PETALING JAYA: More discerning online users are “fighting back” against scammers instead of just letting them off the hook.
The Star journalist Nurbaiti Hamdan came across her first scammer trying to cheat her of RM477 when she posted an ad for a book on a secondhand marketplace online.
She wanted to sell the book for a mere RM20.
“It was my first posting on that website. A few days later, someone called Farina who claimed she lived in Belgium messaged me asking if I could post the book to her sister in Kedah,” she said.
Farina also wanted to take the conversation private and asked for Nurbaiti’s mobile number to discuss “a better deal”.
“I didn’t see any harm in that so I gave her my mobile number. Almost immediately, she messaged me on WhatsApp,” Nurbaiti said.
Halfway through the chat, Nurbaiti received a notification that Farina’s user account on the website was suspended.
“Someone tried to log into my account so I lodged a complaint,” Farina explained.
Nurbaiti continued the chat and asked Farina to include another RM3 for the postage to Kedah. Farina then asked for Nurbaiti’s banking details.
“Two hours later, she claimed to have wired me the money and a notification had been sent to my email. I saw an email from a ‘Credit Europe Bank’ saying I’d received an ‘overcharged’ payment of RM500 and I had to return the balance of RM477,” she said.
It was then that Nurbaiti realised she was dealing with a scammer while “Farina” kept pressing her to make the payment.
She started conversing in Malay asking why she had to return the RM477 when she did not see any extra RM500 in her bank account. Farina asked her to speak in English.
Farina also threatened that the “state police” and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) would take action against Nurbaiti if she did not pay.
Nurbaiti shared screenshots of the conversation with the scammer on her Facebook and the post was shared more than 600 times.
“I have a scammer at hand, and all I could think of was ‘do you really think I’m that stupid to fall for this?’ So I decided to troll the person. It was also the most elaborate scam I’ve encountered so far. I usually receive emails from ‘Nigerian princes’ or ‘successful businessmen’ asking me if I want to do business with them,” she said.
Meanwhile, an IT security consultant who only wanted to be known as Amir, 32, took matters into his own hands and sent a virus to the scammers.
“I have received numerous emails which I knew were scams but one day I replied one of their emails.
“They claimed to be from a church that had received a large sum of money and wanted to send the money out of their ‘corrupt country’,” he said, adding that after some correspondence, the syndicate told him they wanted to transfer the money to his account and would give him a cut. He agreed and passed them a fake bank account number.
“They replied me later saying they had sent the money but it was held by the authorities until a tax on it was paid.
“I knew they would ask me for cash and true enough they asked me if I could pay the US$10,000 (RM40,206) tax.
“I transferred US$1 (RM4.02) via Western Union to them. They were not impressed and threatened to hurt me if I ever go to Nigeria. I told them I would transfer the rest of the money,” he said.
Amir then downloaded a ransomware virus and sent it to them via email.
“I never heard from them again,” he said.