PETALING JAYA: Despite frequent reminders and warnings, incidents of people losing their life savings to Macau scams are still rampant with many cases going unreported during the Covid-19 pandemic.
From the man in the street to professionals, scammers seem to have improvised their tactics and approaches to convince victims to part with their hard-earned money.
MCA secretary-general Datuk Chong Sin Woon said the number of victims falling prey to Macau scams, love parcel scams, internet friend scams and online shopping scams, among others, increased as more people were staying home due the movement control order.
“With less social activities outside, the people are spending more time online.
“So scammers came up with newer and more convincing tactics to dupe victims through greed, fear of running afoul of the law and to avoid being lonely.
“They make use of psychological manipulation and strong make-believe to create an urgency to resolve a dire situation in a short span of time.
“That’s how they managed to deceive even professionals and learned ones.
“It is getting rampant lately and some of these cases were not reported to the authorities as the victims were ashamed, ” he said in an interview.
According to data from the MCA Public Services and Complaints Department, since 2012, a total of 794 cheating complaints involving more than RM64mil were received.
“Among them, the love parcel scam tops the list with 140 cases and RM4mil in losses, followed by the Macau scam with 111 cases with losses amounting to RM12mil.
“When something is too good to be true, people must be more alert and not blindly believe any claims made by unknown callers over the phone.
“It is high time to take up and address this issue and work closely with the authorities, ” he said.
With this aim, MCA will be organising a large-scale national campaign next month to create greater awareness among the public about Macau scams.
Having met with Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani, he said the police, as well as several other NGOs, would be joining the “Rakyat United Scammer Defeated” campaign.
“We will have a series of online activities leveraging on various social media platforms to reach out to the people owing to MCO limitations.
“We are also planning to have some physical activities at places under the conditional MCO.
“Other than the police and NGOs, we have engaged social media influencers, community groups and the media to promote this concerted campaign, ” he said.
Chong said MCA had in the past done similar campaigns against drugs and gambling machines in 2000 that had yielded positive feedback.
“It is only right we do something similar about Macau scams. We are hoping to reach out to as many members of the general public as possible.
“The campaign will run until July, followed by a review by comparing the data and statistics collected throughout the period, ” he said, adding that a campaign extension would depend on the situation then.
Separately, Datuk Seri Michael Chong said the department had been highlighting the plight of Macau scam victims to warn others.
“There are even cases where the victims were still reluctant to believe they were cheated, ” said the department head, who has posed as a family member of the victims to uncover these scams on many occasions.
With most victims often losing their life savings to scammers, he said some also resorted to borrowing from loan sharks to ease their finances.
“We have no way of getting their money back. Those without family support would have no choice but to start saving up money again and spend less, ” he said.