KUALA LUMPUR: A woman meets a guy online; he claims he is from abroad; his profile picture looks good; he says all the right things and is everything she dreams about.
Things move fast over the Internet, and even though she hasn’t seen him in real life, she has already fallen for him.
He tells her he loves her and that he would meet her. That is when the nightmare begins.
Suddenly, she receives a call from the authorities informing that he has been detained while entering the country and a huge sum of money is needed to release him.
Desperate to help, she keeps transferring money to the account provided until she has nothing left.
Then it all goes silent. She is left wondering what just happened and where the man of her dreams is.
This is what happens to victims of love scam syndicates and although the media has highlighted these cases time after time, people are still falling for it.
Checks with the Federal Commercial Crime Investigations Department (CCID), which handles these scam cases nationwide, revealed that between January and mid-April, 464 cases have already been reported, resulting in over RM27mil in losses so far.
The Star spoke to Datuk Mazlan Mansor while he was the CCID director.
He is baffled as to why the number of victims keeps increasing over the years.
“This year alone, victims have lost RM27,830,592 to these love scams.
“Last year, a total of 1,709 cases were reported with RM110,720,866 losses recorded compared to 2,271 cases involving RM95,983,758 in losses in 2017,” Mazlan said, adding that the majority of victims were women.
He said that out of the 464 victims who came forward this year, 378 were women while the rest were men.
“The highest number of victims are from the 31-40 age group. Based on our observation, the female victims from this age group are busy working and have no time to meet potential suitors,” he said.
“They rely on social media in this aspect and that is what the syndicates are taking full advantage of.”Mazlan, who was recently appointed Deputy Inspector-General of Police, said the syndicates target victims at random online and when social media was introduced, they immediately adapted to it.
“The syndicate members who are of African descent would pose as someone else on social media and lure the victims to fall for them.
“They have scripts prepared and with the wonders of translation apps, can speak in either English, Bahasa Malaysia or even Mandarin,” he said, adding that the syndicate members would go to great lengths to woo their potential victims.
He said the only way to combat these syndicates is through awareness and to change the mindset of the public.
“Most of the time in telecommunication scams, the victim only comes to us after they have been duped. “We want to change that and make sure, if they have any doubts, to come to us first before doing anything else,” he said.
Mazlan also had the same advice to give, which is to not be so trusting, especially if one has not met the person face to face.
“Do not be so quick to part with money for someone you have never met in person,” he added.