Cops nab 22 Macau scam syndicate members in raid

Comm Zainuddin showing the items seized during the raid.

IPOH: Police have crippled a Macau scam syndicate with the arrest of 22 locals, including three women at a house here.

Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department director Comm Datuk Zainuddin Yaacob said the group, aged between 20 and 46, have been active since 2018.

He said they were arrested on Tuesday (Dec 29) during a raid after a nine-hour surveillance operation since 7am.

Comm Zainuddin said the group is believed to be involved in cheating people via the phone by posing as customer service officers from Telekom Malaysia, as well as officers from the Terengganu Police Contingent headquarters.

“They get information about their victims from the ‘dark web’, or through other applications such as 'MYEG', 'JPJ Portal' and 'SPR Portal'.

“So far 29 cheating cases are linked to this group, where in total, the victims lost about RM360,000,” he told a press conference at the Perak police headquarters here.

Comm Zainuddin added that this syndicate has been active since April 2018, where some of the group members had undergone a week’s training in Cambodia.

He said the group had been operating in Laos from the middle of 2018 to March this year.

“In the end of May, this group returned back to Malaysia due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“They were then housed in a transit home in September in Menglembu near here, before operating at a call centre in Taiping until November.

“Then they returned to Ipoh, and had been operating there until their arrest yesterday,” he added.

The case, he said is being investigated under Section 420 of the Penal Code for cheating, and the 22 have been remanded until Friday (Jan 1).

Comm Zainuddin advised the public not to fall prey to such scams, and try to avoid answering phone calls from unknown numbers.

He said in any uncertainties, the public should communicate directly with the agencies involved.

“Never reveal your personal details, such as bank account, TAC, or pin numbers to a third party.

“To make sure the account number provided by the caller is not involved in any cheating cases, it is important to check the details via” he added.

The term “Macau scam” was coined because it is believed that it originated from Macau or that the first victims came from there. This has never been confirmed.

The scam often starts with a phone call from someone pretending to be an officer from a bank, government agency or debt collector.

The scammer will then claim that the potential victim owes money or has an unpaid fine, often with a very short window of less than an hour, to settle the payment or face “dire consequences”.

These unsuspecting victims will then be asked to make payments to get them off the hook.

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