QuickCheck: Did a scammer impersonate a Health Ministry official?

FOR many people, phone calls from strangers are a source of stress. Even more so if the caller claims that you were involved in a serious crime.

Many people have reported that scammers impersonating government officials fleeced them of money.

One victim in particular allegedly lost over RM160,000 last month to a scammer impersonating a Health Ministry official.

Is this true?



Ipoh OCPD Asst Comm Yahaya Hassan said in a statement on Feb 9 that police received a report from a 45-year-old local woman from Taman Tawas Gemilang over a phone scam where the suspect deceived the victim by pretending to be a Health Ministry official.

On Jan 5, the victim was at home when she received a call from an unknown individual introducing himself as a pharmacist from the ministry.

"The suspect said the victim had been caught taking some controlled drugs from a hospital in Penang.

"The victim denied this and then was told to make a police report," said ACP Yahaya, adding that she was then connected to a "police officer" supposedly from the Penang contingent headquarters.

"She was then told that she had a record for drug smuggling and money laundering.

"To convince the victim, the second suspect asked her to send him pictures of the front and back of her MyKad."

He said she was also shown a letter listing her alleged crimes as well as an arrest warrant in her name.

ACP Yahaya said she was told to deposit RM168,000 into five different bank accounts belonging to the suspects in order to resolve the matter.

"It was then that she realised she had been cheated and lodged a police report," he said, adding that the case was being investigated under Section 420 of the Penal Code for cheating.

ACP Yahaya then went on to advise the public to not be easily deceived by calls from unknown numbers.

Safety tips to avoid being cheated by scammers or phone scam syndicates:

1. Do not panic if you receive a call from an individual who claims to be from any enforcement agency. Do not respond, just hang up.

2. Enforcement agencies cannot connect phone calls to other enforcement agencies. Government business is conducted on the agency's premises, not online.

3. Never put money in an unknown individual's account and never give your account numbers and banking information to unknown individuals.

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