Trained Scammers Posing as Bank Officers Nabbed

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Scam syndicate crippled with the arrest of 50 fraudsters.

  • Cheated 82 victims of RM2.74m
  • Professionally trained, with scripts to follow when calling as bank and police officers
  • Intimidation of freezing account and drug charge
  • Usage of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology to replicate hotline number of Penang police hq to con victims 

Not your average amateur conmen, the scammers arrested received overseas training, including in Japan, and followed “con-scripts” to fool 82 victims from all over the country, pocketing RM2.74 million.

Police believed the figures were just the tip of the iceberg.

What shocked the police was the fraudsters were tracked down to a high-end gated residential area just a short distance from the Serdang police headquarters.

Penang police nabbed 50 people, aged between 17 and 42, from a million-ringgit three-storey bungalow in Taman Damai Utara, Bandar Kinrara, Puchong, Selangor.

The bungalow was used as a training centre for the swindlers before for the past five to six months.

Their modus operandi was to phone people to say their bank accounts were under criminal investigation.

Penang Commercial Crimes Investigation Department chief ACP Abdul Ghani Ahmad said Saturday’s arrest was the largest the state police had made on a case like this.

He said police uncovered the syndicate following a police report lodged by a female victim in Balik Pulau. She claimed she lost RM5,000 after transferring her money to someone alleging to be a Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) officer.

The victim was told her ATM card and bank account were “hacked” and Bank Negara had to freeze her account. The “officer” advised her to transfer the money to another account for safety.

The fraudster said the transferred money would be returned to her account in a week. When she did not get back her money, she reported to the police.

“Our officers then investigated and traced the fraudster to a place in Puchong. After interrogation, we found another scam.

“Not only were they duping people by saying they were BNM officers, they have been also pretending to be police officers from Penang,” Ghani told reporters yesterday.

In the second scam scheme, the fraudsters would pretend to be bank officers calling to remind customers that they were behind in their loan repayments. In return, they would ask the victims to call a number of a Bank Negara officer.

The Bank Negara “officer” would then say their account was under criminal investigation by the Penang police.

A “Sarjan Badi” would then tell the victims they had a court warrant to freeze their accounts and they would be investigated for drug charges.

“They will pose as bank and police officers and make calls to the victims to transfer money into a specific bank account.

“The victims were told that their bank accounts had been misused by crime syndicates and had to be closed. The scammers would ask the victims to transfer a sum of money before the accounts were frozen.

“They use the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology to replicate the hotline number of Penang police headquarters, which is 04-2221-522, to con their victims.

“The scammers also promised that the money will be returned to the victims once the ‘investigations’ are completed,” Ghani said.

Handwritten “con-scripts” seized from the bungalow showed a purported dialogue of how bank officers and policemen would talk.

The scripts also contained tips on how to counter “typical responses” from their victims.

The victims would be told they were wanted for smuggling 16kg of syabu. They would be also accused of selling their accounts to drug dealers.

At this point, intimidated by the “police”, the victims would reveal their banking details and their monies would be siphoned out.

Ghani said during the raid, five mobile phones, three employment folders, over 30 Malaysian international passports, and 46 identity cards were seized.

The 50 arrested, including three women and a 17-year-old teenager, had been under a three-day remand since Saturday.

The suspects were brought to the Balik Pulau magistrate’s court today where their remand was extended until Thursday.

The case is being investigated under Section 420 of the Penal Code for cheating.

Police said those arrested were merely underlings, with the main culprit still at large.

“I would like to advise everybody that no one will call you from Bank Negara, the police or any bank, for that matter, to talk about your bank account,” said Ghani.