Keeping scammers at bay

by Jeff Yong

Of late, I’ve been pondering over some scamming cases. So much hard-earned money gone in a flash. I reckon that as long as you don’t transfer all your money to another bank account because you’ve been told to, then you’re quite safe.

These dubious accounts are regarded as mule accounts, set up by pawns of the real scammers. I just hope the police would send these “facilitators” to jail and highlight their wrong-doings. If not, many still don’t see the dangers, agony and ruin that they put mostly unsuspecting people through.

And as long as you don’t reveal your bank account number and security password to the “caller at the other end”, you should be quite safe.

 I suppose some of these scammers thrive on threat, coercion and inculcating fear amongst would-be victims. If I could use a Chinese term, they will score if they succeed by convincing us that we’ve dirt or excrement (or “shit”!) on our bodies!

Like telling us they’re investigating us for money-laundering or monetary fraud. I think if we’ve done something wrong, the authorities would’ve swooped down on us before such phone calls emerge. 

Certainly none of those “cajoling” chats despite they telling us they’re investigating serious crimes involving us and yet wanting to help us in the process. Sounds too good to be true, folks!

I’ve come across two phone calls that bordered on striking fear. One came some years back when I was “advised” that my identity card had been used to open up a phone account that had been used as a call centre in Seremban to scam numerous people. Serious stuff, I must say. That got me shaken up, really.

The person at the other end of the line sounded pretty convincing. Told me that I had to go to the Seremban police district headquarters to clear my name within an hour. 

But I pleaded that I couldn’t possibly reach that place within the stipulated time.

Then he said he’d help and referred me to his senior officer who could manage things online. The call was transferred to a female “police officer” who was rather calm.

Maybe she was waiting for an “opportunity to strike” while I was jabbering away my innocence. 

To cut a long story short, I didn’t divulge confidential account numbers.

Then all of a sudden, I was even told that a copy of my report would be emailed to me since I had been cooperative with the authorities. But till this day, I still haven’t received that report!

Early last year, I got a call, purportedly from a Health Ministry admin officer, who said someone had been using my IC to get medicines from a government clinic in Taiping. And his call to me was to ascertain whether I had been getting those medical supplies since my IC listed me as staying in Kuala Lumpur. He even named what the medicines were used for!

I went along in the conversation, again jabbering my innocence, while I asked for his phone number. He was convincing enough to give me a number with the right Putrajaya numerical prefix starting with 8888.

Then I told him I had an emergency and I’ll call him back soonest. I called the number he gave me but it wasn’t active. This left me to ponder what his ruse was. Or that my jabbering had not allowed him to strike?

Since I knew someone who was working for a senior official in the ministry, I related my story to him over the phone. He laughed and told me not to believe such stories as the ministry’s staff wouldn’t have the time to make such calls. Well, well. I’ve been lucky.

Recently I heard that some retired professionals had transferred some RM3 million over four dozen times online for some mouth-watering investment schemes to people whom they had only met on social media and hadn’t even seen them in the flesh before. 

I’m just wondering what has been the motivation for some people to transfer huge sums of money to strangers. To amass great fortunes easily because they’ve spotted a sure-fire investment scheme? 

Again, I fail back on another Chinese saying: No such thing as having such a big bullfrog jumping up and down the street!