KUALA LUMPUR: A woman was scammed into giving RM600,000 and her passport to a conman who took advantage of the Covid-19 outbreak to "sell" face masks.
The 43 year-old female Chinese national, Zhang Lin, came to Kuala Lumpur early in January for a vacation and later befriended the man, Zhang Zheng Wei, who was working in the events industry.
When news of the Covid-19 situation broke, Zheng Wei persuaded Zhang Lin to buy face masks to be shipped back to China.
He said he could arrange for the purchase of the masks.
Zhang Lin then ordered 1.1 million face masks from him to be delivered to Jiangsu in China, thinking that she could give them to her family, friends and even resell them.
She transferred 975,100 renminbi (RM594,567) to Zheng Wei and passed him a further RM20,000 in cash.
"I even passed him my passport as he said he could help me extend my visa here in Malaysia," she said in a press conference at Wisma MCA on Thursday (March 12).
However, the face masks did not arrive on the promised date on Feb 9, and when Zhang Lin questioned Zheng Wei, he gave excuses and even threatened to kill her if she took the matter public.
She lodged a police report on March 3 and later approached the Chinese Embassy and MCA Public Services and Complaints Department's lawyer James Ee for help.
MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Seri Michael Chong said they would be liaising with the police authorities on the matter.
"With this Covid-19 situation, everyone must remember not to panic," he said, adding that information and reports on social media should not fuel panic.
On a separate note, he said he received a donation of 10,000 face masks to be distributed to schools in Malaysia.
The People's Volunteer Corps (Rela) honorary deputy commissioner also said the organisation had transferred RM135,000 to the Hubei Charity Foundation to help combat the Covid-19 outbreak.