Everything fake about the suspects – their elite state honorific awards club, the titles they can get from several states.
- One of the suspects believed to be a prominent Johor businessman, community policing leader
- Police identified 40 individuals involved in the syndicate
- Victims pay membership fees from RM10k to join state honorific awards ‘club’, said to be active in Muar and Batu Pahat
- RM180k-RM280k for ‘Datuk Seri’ title
Johor police have crippled a syndicate selling false ‘datukship’ titles and seized eight honorary awards and appointment letters estimated to be valued at RM1.34 million last month.
Two suspects, aged 40 and 57, from Batu Pahat, believed to be syndicate members, were arrested in the Oct 30 raid.
“Initial investigations revealed that the syndicate had been active since the beginning of this year. To date, 13 police reports have been lodged and we have detected more than 40 members of the syndicate,” Johor police chief Mohd Khalil Kader Mohd told reporters in Johor Baru yesterday.
“The syndicate also joined the Community Policing Association (PKK) to evade the suspicion of the authorities and community. We are calling all individuals involved in the syndicate to come forward before we pay them a visit,” he said.
It is learnt that one of the suspects is allegedly a prominent Johor businessman and a community policing leader, but police declined to confirm this.
Police were also tracking down a suspect, Muhamad Faizal Abd Rahman, 33, to facilitate investigations.
“We have listed him as a wanted man and his last address was in Kuala Lumpur,” Khalil said.
According to him, the syndicate would lure individuals to become members of an unregistered non-governmental organisation apart from being involved in selling state honorary titles.
Victims reportedly have to pay between RM20,000 and RM30,000 as membership fees to join a state honorific awards ‘club’, which is said to be active in Muar and Batu Pahat.
“In order to convince these potential buyers, the club operators showed them fake photos of some Datuks being greeting by members of royal families.
“One has to pay between RM20,000 and RM30,000 to obtain a ‘datukship’ and another RM180,000 or RM280,000 for a ‘Datuk Seri’ title,” Khalil said.
Police also seized several items, including fake award medals, royal appointment letters and ceremonial uniforms used by the suspects to convince victims that they had the clout to recommend people for titles from a neighbouring state.
“The suspects were very slick in their operations. They duped their victims by showing them the medals and appointment letters that looked genuine,” said Khalil.
Dressed in formal wear, the suspects would take their victims to a certain state where the royal family there would be holding ceremonies and meeting with the public.
The suspects would then arrange for their victims to take pictures with members of the royalty, following which they would charge their victims RM5,000 if the latter wanted their pictures to be printed and framed.
“We conducted checks with the palace of this state. The palace confirmed that it had no ties with the suspects and stressed that the medals and appointment letters were fake,” Khalil said.
Police believe at least 40 people may have been victims of the scam. They also did not rule out the possibility that there were also victims from other states.
Khalil said some of the victims lodged police reports after they realised they had been cheated when the promised invitation from the respective palaces never materialised or when their award ceremony did not take place.
He urged other victims of the scam to come forward and lodge reports.
“I would like to remind the public that it is not easy to be bestowed with a Datukship as it is not something that money can buy,” Khalil said, warning the public not to be involved with any individuals offering these titles.
The crime is being investigated under Section 420 of the Penal Code for cheating, Section 15(2) Offences on Award Act, Section 471 of the Penal Code for using fake documents, and Section 45(1) Societies Act 1966.