Your parents are right. No matter how much we may want to deny it, there *are* bad people in this world. People who don’t think twice about organising Macau scams and taking your money from you through illegal and unethical means. They do it easily, without guilt or remorse.
This article is a compilation of anecdotes by real people, who were scammed or almost got scammed. Thank you to all who contributed.
#1 – Macau scams (telecommunication or fake call scams)
Macau scams are so prevalent, PDRM (the Royal Malaysian Police) has issued an alert to warn the public. Macau scams have four main modus operandis, and it’s almost always via a phone call or text:
a) Lucky draw or winning entries
You probably have heard of these types of Macau scams.
Aniza R – Once, when I picked up the phone, a computerised voice said that I have won money from CIMB. I don’t even have an account with CIMB.
The call actually came from the legit CIMB customer service number. I called the number to check and was told that they (the scammers) are able to hack real numbers.
We call this the “too lazy dont even wanna make an effort” SMS scam pic.twitter.com/XVQhywOcQd
— Pelham Blue Asset Management (@pelhambluefund) June 13, 2019
— FED (@Mr_Fed) June 2, 2019
b) Impersonating as kidnappers
No one came forward to report this scam this time around, but I’ve heard stories of Malaysians being scammed via this Macau scams method.
This type of Macau scam is designed to scare parents and grandparents into taking fast action and I understand how one would fall for it. Hearing your loved ones is in danger is enough incentive to immediately make the money transfers.
c) Spoofing as a police officer or a government official
The next Macau scams type is one of the scariest as they impersonate authoritative figures!
Fadzr Latip – I received a call from a supposed police station number. The number appeared as 07-XXXXXX, the same number used by a police station in Johor. The person on the line said I had some unpaid credit card dues.
I knew it was a scam because I don’t owe money, as I try my best to pay off all my credit card dues every month. But he was in character all the way and said he is the police.
I insisted on calling him back on the same number he called me. When I did, a real police on the other line told me they have been receiving the same feedback from the public about their number being used to scam people.
Shamini Arivananthan – I received a call claiming from Kuantan court saying I have a warrant. They called multiple times and tried to get my IC number. Best of all, the call is to my office number which is a law firm. We also received several scam calls saying from banks.
Here’s one of the voicemail recording, as shared by a reader.
Kalau tak jawab call tu dia auto je pic.twitter.com/sac8nHY3b8
— busydoinnothin (@ef_hash) June 13, 2019
d) Spoofing as a Bank Negara official or commercial banks
Anon – I received an SMS scam from 68833. It said:
RM0.00 CIMB: MYR 680.28 was charged on your card num 5318 at TRIVAGO on 15/05. Pls call 1800817866 for any queries.
I found out it was a scam SMS by using the TrueCaller app to search the phone number. Also, I don’t have any credit card with that number. I don’t even have an account with CIMB.
I think they just want you to panic and call the number listed in the SMS. The scammer will answer the call and try to get your money.
e) [NEW Macau Scam methodology] Spoofing using postage methods
While I was collecting anecdotes, scammers have ‘leveled’ up from their usual modus operandi and started using this new tactic. Three people said they were almost scammed this way in June.
Simon Malik – I received a prerecorded call stated that I have an uncollected parcel from Poslaju. When connected to the number given, the person claimed she was from Poslaju hub Kuala Lumpur. She asked for my name and IC number and I gave her false ones.
After ‘checking’, she said that I have a registered letter from LHDN with a certain number reference in their custody. She said that this letter is now at the Poslaju KL hub and need to be claimed within 2 hours, since is the letter about unpaid tax due to owning shares. She tried to make me nervous, telling that I sound surprised and I did not know about this.
I played along, asked lots of questions, argued with her about the parcel location, told her I’ll check with a relative who works at LHDN. In the end, she gave up.
One thing I realize is, they have a script to talk. The best way is to counter back by asking a lot of questions and argue back.
SCAM ALERT. PLEASE READ AND PLEASE SHARE: pic.twitter.com/1NaC3rmJIv
— Annatasha (@monkeydisease) June 13, 2019
Sharing mine that just happened yesterday. pic.twitter.com/PKv3FWgIcC
— gwen (@shirogwen) June 13, 2019
Some of you might wonder, okay how *do* we know if the call is legit or not? None of us wants to ignore or laugh off an actual warrant against us, right? Here’s an article by AskLegal on picking up red flags indicative of Macau scams.
Here’s a rule of thumb – DO NOT transfer money or divulge bank card and pin number over the phone, no matter how much they threaten you.
#2 – Being told to pay for PIDM’s protection services
This scam is horrible because the scammers target… people who are already financially desperate.
- Desperation forces some people to approach money lenders
- They are told to make payment to ‘activate’ PIDM’s protection before they can receive the money
- They never get the money after making payment and this may potentially get them into a worse financial situation
You can see some evidence of this. In PIDM’s Google Answers page, you can see some queries from the public about this type of scam.
As a reminder, PIDM’s protection for deposits, takaful and insurance benefits (up to a certain amount) – are FREE. There is no payment required.
Let me repeat that, because it’s important. There. Is. No. Payment. Required. For. PIDM’s. Protection.
It’s also important to take note of which banking products are protected (for deposits, PIDM protects savings accounts, current accounts, joint accounts, etc.) and not protected.
Some banking products are not and have never been under PIDM’s protection. For example, loan products are NOT protected by PIDM so watch out if anybody tells you to pay a fee to PIDM in order to take out a loan.
#3 – Online Scams
Many of you have been exposed to online scams one way or another. Some were obvious, others were a lot more elaborate and professionally-executed. Here are some examples.
Online selling scam
There are two main ways for scammers to part you with your money via online selling scam. If you’re a buyer, you might never receive the item you paid for.
Syaza Nazura – One of my friends got scammed about a cheap iPhone. Got random messages saying something like “Buy an iPhone for only RMXXX” and they were really attracted by the cheap iPhones price so they didn’t think much about it. After they paid the deposit, the seller cut off communications. That’s when they realised they’ve been scammed.
This can happen for a variety of items. Even flight tickets! If you see super-cheap flight tickets sold on Instagram or Facebook, that’s most likely fake – don’t buy them because you’ll probably get stranded. It’s impressive how brazen they are at conducting these activities.
These fake flight ticket scams are still ongoing, according to one former ‘agent’ who refunded customers’ money out of her own pocket and lost RM300k herself.
Sellers can get scammed as well:
Anon – I want to share my experience almost being scammed. At the time I just registered as a Shopee seller, selling vintage kimonos. I had just uploaded two items and someone DM-ed with interest to purchase. The person requested to Whatsapp me other pictures personally, and I did because I haven’t uploaded the rest in the platform.
He said he’d buy four items for his partner in Kelantan, claiming he’s out of the country. I gave him my bank account number and other details like usual. The next message from him was informing me of his transfer, telling me to check my email.
By that point I felt something was off, but played along. The email ended up in my spam folder. When I opened it, apparently an international bank transferred a big amount to my account and instructed me to refund back the balance.
I googled, found out it’s a scam, then blocked the buyer. The email received is as below.
Zoe Liew – I got scammed out of 900 euros. I was desperate for a place to stay in the Netherlands and it was really hard to find a place online unless we went through the school or real estate agencies and the fees were exorbitant
They even provided me with a copy of the contract and their passport. Turns out even the passport copy was stolen.
Ayesha – How about the rent scam in Bangsar South? They post fake ads for rooms on iBilik, Mudah etc that’s actually just booked for the day from AirBnb (here’s one expose). Very reasonable price! Make people pay for down payment/deposit, then disappear. I saw some people get scammed this way.
When I was room hunting I encountered some of these scammers/ fake ads. Waste of time! Can you imagine 8/10 room ads I contacted were scam. Some stories I read were UM students, or people outside KL who just got a job and desperate to look for affordable rooms. I feel bad for people who don’t know better.
These types of scams are disgusting since scammers spend so much time and effort to get your trust. It’s easy to dismiss them, thinking, oh why was he/she so easy to dupe.
But what if a good friend of yours ended up doing this to you? It’s not just financially painful, but emotionally as well.
Anon – Briefly: he befriended me and a friend using a fake name, we got along pretty well. He was very engaging and active in our chat group.
We met up often. He planned a trip but as the date approached, he went silent in the chat. A few days later, his ‘brother’ introduced himself in the chat, informed us that his bro met an accident while in KK and was in a coma, so he took it upon himself to let us know.
The ‘brother’ kept us updated about his progress and recovery in detail. He shared a photo of him with his head shaved (allegedly) for surgery. He always gave apologetic excuses why we can’t visit. Then he asked me for help because they were in urgent need of funds for emergency surgery. I stupidly lost RM6.5k
I’ve made a police report but according to the officer, nothing much can be done because what he did (and is still doing) is kind of a gray area thing
Job opportunity scams
Anon – I want to share my experience being scammed via LinkedIn. Made a police report over it but they said it’ll be hard to catch the scammers.
V – A week ago I got scammed for a job.
I am desperate for work, but currently can’t take any full-time jobs because I have things to deal with.
I saw a job post on a Facebook job group. The work is typing out content from a physical book, and we will get paid RM3-5 per page. I was interested because I could do this job anywhere.
They said there would be a “deposit” of RM50 to send the physical books. I thought it was a real job and deposited the amount. I even wrote the contract to work with this person. It seems legit with the contract and company (in Kedah apparently).
I contacted this guy two days after and asked for the tracking number. An hour later I found out that I was blocked.
#5 – IRL scams
Charity or donation scams
Lee Jun – I was approached by some nicely dressed young man asking for a donation for XX Elder Care Centre. It didn’t occur to me to check that The XX Elder Care Centre is in a different state, but I did think it was weird of them to come all the way to a different state.
Later, when my friend did a Google search and called the XX centre, they said they don’t send people out collecting cash donations. They said they raise funds through charity sales or Corp donations to their bank account.
Hakim Aar – One African man approached me, said I’m handsome and gave a speech on how Muslims must help each other. He then proceeded to ask for money right after. Gave him 70sen. The lesson here is, don’t trust random people calling you handsome.
Anon – I did some random survey outside of Lot10. They asked me to fill up a form and give them points for some activities. I wrote 100 then a group of them came and surrounded me trying to make a scene. Apparently, each point equals RM1 so they asked for RM100. I had to give them RM30 before they let me leave.
Anon – I helped 2 women who claimed they lost a wallet at KLCC. They approached me, saying they have no money to go home and asked if I can lend them some money for a cab. They promised to return the money to me once they reached home, then blocked me immediately after they left. They definitely took advantage of my kindness. I was young and foolish.
Ivan Wong – Was pumping petrol at Petronas. One Chinese uncle approached me and tried to sell me a high-end smartphone for RM300.
I tested the phone and it was okay. After I paid him, he somehow managed to switch the phone to a dummy or fake phone. After he left, I tried to turn on the power but it failed. Took it to a phone shop and found out the phone is all filled with metal inside.
He was good, because while I was withdrawing money from ATM at the petrol station, I still have the real phone with me. It’s only after I handed him the cash that he quickly switched it into a dummy set. I think he did it while he removed his old sim card.
Iman Anne – Gores & Menang scam. I was at an LRT station when somebody approached me. I scratched and the scam team there were all cheering saying that I won a Honda Civic. Obviously I was happy. When I ask about getting the car, they said I must pay RM6k for tax first to take the car. I left.
What scams have you encountered in Malaysia?
Share them in the comments section so the rest of us can learn and see how prevalent scams are. I hope you realise you have to be aware of many types of scams, not just Macau scams.
If there’s one thing you should know, it’s that scams in Malaysia are exceptionally common, and it just takes one slip, a temporary lapse in judgement to fall for it. That’s why Macau scams still exists – it only takes one error.
Also, always remember to check with the authorities or the organisations named for confirmation before you pay – whether it’s for protection, charity, or even a penalty. It’s an extra effort that may potentially save you, and your money, in the long run.