October 16, 2023
KUALA LUMPUR – Northern Myanmar is not the furthest place Malaysians can be duped by scammers into seemingly attractive job offers. They are now taken as distant as Peru in South America! While Mainland Chinese are the masterminds behind most scamming operations in northern Myanmar, the Taiwanese are the ones pulling the strings of scam syndicates in Peru. They nevertheless entice their victims with the same tempting promises: good money, easy work, nice food and accommodation.
According to the 43 rescued Malaysian victims, the syndicate lured them with well-paying jobs at casinos through recruitment ads placed on social media. They were flown first from Kuala Lumpur to Amsterdam before flying into Peru with legal papers.
After they arrived at Lima’s airport, they were put in a crowded bungalow (to serve as camouflage), given only one meal a day, with their passports and phones confiscated. “Security was very tight,” they revealed.
They were made to pretend to be bank executives, police cops or officers to scam their victims who were mainly individuals and companies from Malaysia or Taiwan. If not because the syndicate was busted, more ethnic Chinese from countries like China, Singapore and elsewhere in the world could also fall prey to their wicked designs.
But why are Malaysians, in particular, vulnerable to job scams?
Apparently the Taiwanese government’s effort to crush online scams has paid off and few are now duped into a flight oversea to the dark world of scammers. According to Taiwanese media reports, “Mainland Chinese face growingly tough restrictions on outbound travels, while well informed Taiwanese are generally less susceptible to such scams nowadays. By contrast, Malaysians seem to be rather easy targets.” So, the conclusion is: Malaysians are easy targets of online scams!
Countless of people in China, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and elsewhere have fallen into the traps meticulously set up by these syndicates, including well-educated people such as school principals, tech workers, housewives, middle-age men with some spare cash to spend… they will only wake up to the cruel reality after their bank accounts have been squeezed dry.
The scams could come in many shapes and forms: love trap, profitable investment that requires minimal financial input, a romantic picture that has fallen into wrong hands, a winning lottery ticket that requires a 15% tax, a family member held hostage, alleged money-laundering involvement, unpaid tax dues, etc.
If you pick up the call and start talking to them, there are good chances you will fall into their trap.
With the AI technology increasingly sophisticated, your personal data couldn’t have been more easily obtained, especially with voice cloning thrown in. The only way to stay safe is to reject all calls from unfamiliar numbers, ignore messages from dubious senders, not be greedy, and read more (newspapers of course, not unverified social media hearsay).
Official statistics show that 49,500 scams amounting to RM1.921 billion were reported in 2021, at a daily average of 136 cases and RM5.26 million. And these figures do not include cases left unreported, some involving trivial amounts and are therefore largely disregarded, along with love scams too embarrassing to be made public.
Despite the fact Sin Chew Daily has generously reported scam cases in recent months, many still repeatedly fall victim to the scammers.
Many people are happy to waste time on crappy content on social media and will never bother about serious news that may be of some importance to them.
Last September, Malaysia’s ambassador to Cambodia Eldeen Husaini Mohd Hashim put it very frankly in an interview with Sin Chew Daily: “Most of the Malaysians ‘sold’ by scam syndicates to northern Myanmar do not read news, and the victims have no idea what job scam is all about!”
Due to the poor conveyance of truthful information to the public, the government has found itself at a bottleneck dealing with the scammers. Because of that, the police appointed a total of 104 “anti-scam ambassadors” that included key opinion leaders (KOLs) from entertainment, business, police, badminton sports and other sectors, to help spread the message against scamming on social media. Unfortunately, the effects have been unsatisfactory.
So, who “sold’ these 43 Malaysians to Peru? Even if IGP Razarudin Husain has vowed to bring the human traffickers to book, if members of the public lack the awareness, the police may just end up wasting more resources each time to fix the mess. The police chief has advised the public to think twice before accepting an overseas job offer, but such advice will invariably fall on deaf ears of people who shun mainstream news.