GEORGETOWN: Penang police crippled a syndicate that had conned more than 100 women in the country with empty “gift” promises, with the arrest of three local and 11 Nigerian students.
The students, from public and private higher learning institutions in the country, were detained during two separate raids on houses in Seberang Perai on June 18, according to Penang deputy police chief Senior Assistant Commissioner (I) Datuk Tun Hisan Tun Hamzah.
“We have received 111 reports, including one from a 73-year-old woman, who have all suffered losses amounting to more than RM1.5mil,” he told reporters here yesterday.
He said the modus operandi of the syndicate, believed to be operating in the state since 2008, was that the Nigerian students would pretend to be British nationals and chat up local women through social sites on the Internet, make marriage proposals and later request their addresses and phone numbers.
“They sought such details under the pretext of wanting to send their “lovers” gifts from overseas while the three local female students would impersonate Customs officers and contact the women to inform them that they had detained their gifts because duty and tax was not paid,” he said.
The unsuspecting women, believing that their online “lovers” had actually sent them expensive gifts or parcels, would then pay the duty and tax running into thousands of ringgit.
Tun Hisan said among the gifts promised by the conmen were US currency, jewellery, crafted items, cameras and laptop computers.
“However, after the women had paid the money, online or through dedicated bank accounts, they would not receive the gifts while their contacts would go missing,” he said.
The syndicate also used tactics like claiming that their “lovers” were being detained at airports for carrying excess cash and then requesting the women bail them out by paying large sums of money. — Bernama