JOHOR BARU: It was a bitter pill to swallow for a housewife who got cheated out of her savings of over RM64,000 after falling for an online investment scheme that claimed to use artificial intelligence (AI) to give her high returns.
The 61-year-old, known only as Tan, said she thought she was being clever by taking a few months to observe the scheme after first coming across it in March.
“I had prior experience in stock trading. I learned about the scheme from a Facebook advertisement and out of curiosity, I clicked on it and it led me to download an app.
“I wanted to give the app a try as it claimed to provide accurate insider information and used AI to source background information on stocks and investment portfolios in order to save us from having to do this ourselves.
“I was contacted via WhatsApp by someone who claimed to be an agent, telling me that I could easily earn about RM700 just by signing my attendance in the app daily and observing the situation if I was still hesitant.
“So, I signed my attendance daily for about three months and was promised RM732. However, I was told I had to enter my particulars by signing up for an account in the app to get my hands on the money,” said Tan who did what she was told.
She said the agent then started to persuade her more fervently about joining the scheme, for which she was promised over RM70,000 with an investment of RM50,000.
Tan said strangers trying to allay her concerns also contacted her via WhatsApp, claiming they knew her from the app.
“Thinking their testimonials were true, I decided to dig into my savings to join the scheme.
“I deposited money from May 23 until July 12, with amounts varying between RM2,000 and RM7,000 each time until this came up to more than RM64,000.
“I should have known better because the accounts I deposited money into were different each time – from company accounts to personal accounts of people unknown to me,” said Tan, who is from Kluang.
Using the https://semakmule.rmp.gov.my/ website, a check by The Star on one of the so-called company bank accounts Tan deposited into showed a “Warning” alert with six police reports lodged against it.
Another account showed the same alert with eight police reports lodged against it.
Tan said she only realised she had fallen victim when the agent told her she had supposedly violated her “contract” and had to make a final deposit of RM7,840 to cash out all her earnings of more than RM80,000.
“After I deposited that amount, everything was wiped out from my account in the app, including my personal information and the people who had contacted me.
“I am under a lot of stress because the money I forked out was what I have saved up over the years. I cannot believe that it is all gone.
“It was my retirement fund and the ‘coffin money’ for my funeral when I am gone one day,” lamented Tan, adding that she then sought help from Kluang MCA public complaints bureau chief Joan Ng.
Ng said with many elderly people using social media, they had become easy targets for scam syndicates using new tactics.
“They use buzzwords like AI and ChatGPT, and operate with a group of people to slowly reel their victims in,” she added.
Johor police chief Comm Datuk Kamarul Zaman Mamat reminded people to use the website to check the legitimacy of the bank accounts.
“Do not be influenced by online advertisements that promise things that seem too good to be true,” he said.
Those who suspect they have been cheated can call the Johor police hotline at 07-221 2999 or head to the nearest station.