JOHOR BARU: There are people who are easily conned by Macau scam syndicates despite numerous news reports and frequent advice given by the police.
Johor police chief Comm Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said the police were also baffled as to why there were still people who fell prey to such syndicates.
“In Johor, on the average, we receive about three reports daily lodged by victims with losses amounting to hundreds of thousands of ringgit, ’’ he told a press conference at the Johor police contingent here on Thursday (March 4).
Comm Ayob Khan said that in 2020, the state's Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) received 241 reports of Macau scam cases with losses amounting to RM26,171,230.16.
“In the first two months of this year, the department recorded 40 cases with losses of RM1,484,907.24, ” he said.
Comm Ayob Khan also said there were 961 cases of loan scams recorded in 2020 with losses totalling RM9,431,071.60. A total of 108 such cases were registered in the first two months of 2021 with RM1,364,006.36 in losses.
He said the department also detained 342 individuals under an operation codenamed Ops Mule (to identify mule accounts used in scams) in 2020, involving losses amounting to RM6,403,769.67.
“Ninety-two individuals were arrested in the first two months of 2021 during Ops Mule involving losses totalling RM1,604,206.19, ” said Comm Ayob Khan.
He said police did not rule out the possibility that the Macau scam syndicates and mule accounts were connected and run by the same masterminds.
“Macau scam callers are paid between RM1,000 and RM2,000 and receive commission based on the number of people conned by them and the money involved, ’’ said Comm Ayob Khan.
He said the syndicates are now operating from the secondary towns or rural areas of Johor instead of urban localities to avoid being detected by the police.
Comm Ayob Khan urged those who have information on Macau scam syndicates to call the Johor CCID or the officer in charge ASP Timmy Anak Aheng at 019-777 3728; or the Johor CCID infoline at 013-211 1222.
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 a debt collector.
The scammer will tell potential victims that they owe money or have 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 be let off the hook.