Police Warn of Rise in ‘GST’ Scams

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Victims frightened into thinking they are being investigated for unpaid GST and made to deposit money into an account.

With just two days before the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is brought down to zero percent, scammers are calling potential victims saying they have outstanding payments that must be made immediately.

The group of confidence tricksters acting as customs officers has made away with tens of thousands of ringgit in Penang by telling victims they owe GST for items they had never bought.

Police here received 43 reports between Jan 1 to May 27 from victims who received calls from scammers claiming to be from the Customs Department.

Balik Pulau OCPD Supt A Anbalagan said the gang would call up people claiming that they owed money from unpaid GST for mobile phones and “contraband” baby formula.

He said when a victim refused to pay the “customs officer”, the call would be forwarded to a “police officer” who would frighten the victim, accusing him of a serious crime like one related to drugs, and threaten him with quarantine.

“The ‘police officer’ would then ask victims to bank in money to an account to avoid a freeze or forfeiture of their savings accounts.

“They would then assure the victims that their money would be returned after the investigation is concluded,” Anbalagan said.

He said the syndicate would also threaten those who refused to pay, warning that there would be “effects”.

He added that the scammers would also ask the victims to keep their conversations private to avoid jeopardising the “investigation”.

Anbalagan said that out of the 43 reports in Penang alone, 23 were in the southwest district while 20 were from other districts in the state.

He revealed that 23 cases saw RM51,300 being lost to the tricksters.

“We would like to advise all not to reveal your banking details to anyone through the phone or any other means

“If you need to liaise with the bank, do so by in person at the nearest branch.

“If you receive such calls, do not entertain them and alert the police immediately,” Anbalagan said in a WhatsApp message to the press today.