By Prethiba Esvary, Marketing and Communications Executive, Lava Protocols
Last Saturday, one of our employees almost lost all of her savings. Here’s her account of what happened:
I received a call from a handphone number claiming that I had summons to pay off. The recorded message said I could press ‘0’ to speak to someone. A ‘police officer’ picked up and asked for my name and identification card (IC) number. What happened next was he claimed that I had no summons but rather I was involved in a hit and run accident in Kuala Terengganu which put a 15-year-old kid in a coma. The driver of the car claimed that I had rented his car. He then claims this is a huge case and there is a warrant for my arrest. The fear that someone may have got hold of my personal details and used my name in a case like this drove me to hysterics.
He asks me to go somewhere private so he can record my statement, in an effort to clear my name. He also made it a point to ask me not to go too far for my safety. Hmm. Well played.
He then asks me to Google ‘IPK Terengganu’ (Terengganu Contingent Police Headquarters) and says he would call from the number listed there. Clever. The call came and he began probing me further. I said I would prefer to go to the police station and sort this out. He got angry and challenged me to do so and warned that it wouldn’t be his fault if I got arrested.
After numerous attempts of clarifying that I have never stepped foot into Terengganu, let alone rent a car, he proceeded to ask me:
- What car do you drive? When did you purchase it and from where?
- What cars do you have at home?
- What bank accounts do you have? How much do you have? Which account does your salary go into?
At this point, I suspected something was amiss. I hear him speaking to ‘his boss’ and the story changes. Apparently now, I am also involved in money laundering and drug smuggling activities. He claimed I had illegally obtained RM2.28million, which is currently sitting in my OCBC account (an account which I don’t even have!) and gave me the names of 3 suspects involved — all of whom claim I was an accomplice.
I knew something was up and said I wanted to go to the police to clarify this. The moment I mentioned I was going to the police, he got angry and said he wouldn’t cooperate with me. The call ended after that (after 1.5 hours). Thankfully.
When I went to the police station to make a report, the policewoman said there were SO many similar cases like this and I was lucky that I hadn’t actually gone to the extent of furnishing them with my bank account username and password and debit card details. There was also an elderly Chinese woman next to me who was making a report. She had apparently lost more than RM1million because of a scam as well.
–End of account–
I’m pretty sure this scam sounds all too familiar to some of you. This is a classic case of the Macau Scam.
What makes it utterly believable is that these syndicates do a fine job acting as police officers — from the way they speak to the questions they ask you. They even throw in their concerns for your safety and mention their desire to help you clear this up. They are smart in that they play to your fears. So, when you aren’t able to think straight, you may accidentally give them details which you shouldn’t. Elderly folks are one of the easiest targets for this, as they aren’t as tech-savvy as the generations before them.
It was reported that between January and July last year, there were a total of 334 cases like this and the scammers reportedly received RM14.76mil from victims!
What were the lessons learnt from this?
- If a police calls to claim you have been involved in a crime/ accident and then asks for your IC, don’t bother. Any police officer would already have your IC and details, especially if you have committed a crime/ done something which is against the law.
- If they press on and ask you to move to a private location where no one is around, this is a second indication that it is a scam, as they don’t want your family or friends to overhear your conversation.
- If you’re still not convinced, the moment they ask you about your bank accounts and your family, HANG UP. All they want is your money.
Read this: What To Do If You Get A Suspicious Call?
More about scams: Money Sucking Scams Malaysians Keep Falling For [UPDATED]
Are Businesses Doing Enough to Protect their Data?
That’s a story on an individual level. What about businesses?
Coming from a company that sells CRM solutions in Malaysia, I’ve learnt that if you have the ability to build/ create something, you would also know how to break/ hack into it.
This is why we are seeing A LOT of cybersecurity scandals taking place across the globe.
Fake security emails and data breaches are examples of how your business operations can be compromised. The question to ask in most cases is, was it a human error or a technology failure? We talk about this more in a separate article.
Lava Protocols is a cloud consulting company in Malaysia. We are also an authorised Salesforce Partner and we possess more than a decade of experience in CRM solutions for sales, service, and marketing. We pride ourselves in not just being a CRM partner but also understanding the needs of our customers and taking their business to the next level.