Macau scam syndicates moving to rural areas to avoid detection, says Johor police chief

JOHOR BARU: Macau scam syndicates are now moving their operations to secondary towns and rural areas from urban areas, says Comm Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay.

The Johor police chief said the change in location was to prevent authorities from detecting their activities.

He said Johor police would continue to take action against them regardless of where they were operating.

Comm Ayob Khan said an investigation by Johor police had led to the arrest of 12 locals involved in a Macau scam.

"The suspects, aged between 22 and 33, were arrested on Feb 28 in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, between 4.30pm and 6.10pm," he said at the Johor Police Contingent headquarters here Thursday (March 4).

Comm Ayob Khan said that prior to the arrest, Johor police had seized 57 mobile phones, one computer and two sets of modems from a shoplot in Kota Tinggi on Feb 2.

He said the shoplot was vacant when police raided the place.

"The suspects arrested in Cheras were the Macau scam syndicate members operating from the Kota Tinggi shoplot, disguising themselves as PosLaju representatives," Comm Ayob Khan said.

He said the suspects, one woman and 11 men, have been remanded for 21 days starting from March 1 under Section 4(1) of the Crime Prevention Act 1959.

Comm Ayob Khan added that Johor police had received 421 reports on Macau scams in 2020, with about RM26.171mil losses.

The term “Macau scam” was coined as it is believed it originated from Macau or that the first victims came from there.

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

The scammer will tell the potential victim that they owe money or has an unpaid fine, often with a very short window to settle the payment or face “dire consequences”.

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

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