KUALA LUMPUR: Police have busted an investment scam syndicate based in the city here but conning victims in China, with the arrest of 99 people at a luxury office near KL Sentral, the biggest such bust made so far.
The suspects – 93 Chinese nationals and six Malaysians – had been operating the syndicate's call centre for a few months now.
Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) director Comm Datuk Seri Amar Singh said a Malaysian "Datuk Seri" in his 40s and a 14-year-old Malaysian boy were among those arrested.
“The syndicate followed the same modus operandi as Macau Scam syndicates.
“They acted as a so-called stockbrocking company, offering shares to the victims, they could get huge returns in their investment in a short time,” he told reporters at the CCID headquarters Friday.
Among the items seized were 169 mobile phones and 114 laptops, he added.
"The suspects used Voice-Over-Internet Protocol (VOIP) calls to pose as officials before tricking the victims into parting with their hard-earned money.
"We are working with our counterparts from China to investigate the case further, including how much losses have been suffered by the victims," Comm Amar said.
Initial investigations revealed that the syndicate raked in several million ringgit each month, he added.
"We don't have the exact figures, but based on the salary of more than RM2,500 for each worker, as well as the office rental cost and flying the workers from China, their earnings could easily be a couple of million monthly.
"We're aware that such scammers were able to contact the victims, as there is a leak in personal data.
"I had a meeting with my counterparts in Hong Kong and Singapore, and they are also facing similar problems with regards to cybercrime," he said.
Hong Kong has 10 times more "Nigerian" scam cases than Malaysia. Recently, a woman lost some RM95mil in such a scam there, Comm Amar added.
He also called on Malaysian telecommunication companies to upgrade their systems so that they could assist the police in tracking down Internet Protocol (IP) addresses used by the scammers.
"We are more interested in the IP address, and I hope the government can play its part in getting the telcos to upgrade their system," he said.
Comm Amar reminded the public not to easily fall for such scams.
Note: An earlier version of this story inaccurately described the operation as a Macau Scam; this has been corrected.