Contractor fears for family's safety after debt collection goes wrong


KUALA LUMPUR: A 55-year-old contractor is afraid for his family’s safety after falling victim to an extortionist who operated under the guise of a debt collector.

MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Seri Michael Chong said this caused the victim, Lee, to suffer intense harassment from the collector with his lorry also being torched in the process.

Chong said Lee initially engaged the services of the collector known as "Mikey Keat" through social media earlier this year, to collect a sum of RM18,000 from a debtor.

The amount was for a construction job in 2018.

“Both Lee and Keat communicated through the phone, and Keat stated that no payment was required prior to the job, with the exception of needing both Lee’s and the debtor's details.

“The agreement was that 30% of the collected debt would be given to Keat,” Chong told a press conference here on Tuesday (Sept 13).

Chong said Lee found out that the collector did his job several days later, when the debtor sent him a receipt as proof that he had transferred RM30,000 which was substantially more than the RM18,000 owed, into a local bank account.

“Lee, however, did not receive a single sen of the amount collected and was alarmed that it exceeded what he was owed,” he said.

Chong added that Keat later cooked up a story that the debtor lodged a police report after the incident, leading to the debt collector's arrest.

“He also demanded an additional RM20,000 payment for settlement with the cops,” he said.

Lee subsequently transferred RM10,000 to a local bank account after which Keat asked for a further RM5,000 as the first payment was late, Chong said.

“After this, the collector began harassing both Lee and his family with threatening messages, burning Lee’s lorry and demanding an additional RM15,000 payment.

“Even his (Lee) neighbours were not spared as red paint was splashed all over their car,” he said.

Lee, who was at the press conference, said engaging with the debt collector was a last-ditch attempt to get his money back after previous efforts proved futile.

“I tried calling the debtor over the years and even attempted engaging with legal debt collectors but their charges were too high for me.

“I then saw this service on social media and thought it was worth a try since everything else wasn’t working,” he said, adding that he had lodged two police reports and was left traumatised by the ordeal.

Chong advised the public not to fall for such scam tactics, adding that he believed this was not the first time Keat had done something like this.

He said the modus operandi of such operators was to make it seem as though the debt had been collected beyond the initial amount, only to concoct stories to extort more money from those who engaged their services.

“If you find yourself in the position where you need a debt collected, source only from those who are licensed,” he said.

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