Malaysian and Chinese police say they have crippled an international syndicate running the infamous "Macau scam" that has swindled Chinese and Taiwanese victims in Malaysia out of more than RM12 million (S$4.5 million).
Officers from China's Interpol and Bukit Aman's Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) arrested 60 suspects during raids in three houses in the Klang Valley.
The conmen, who had set up their operations base in houses in Taman Seputeh, Taman Cheras and Bandar Sri Damansara, had been operating there for about three months.
Malaysian Senior Assistant Commissioner (SAC) Kamaruddin Md Din said on Tuesday: "The group's modus operandi is the same as any group running the Macau scam. The suspects will call up victims while posing as bank officers or a Taiwanese government official by using the Voice Over Internet Protocol (Voip).
"They would inform their victims that he or she has been found to be involved in money laundering and their accounts have to be closed. The suspects would then instruct their victims to transfer their money into another account."
Macau scammers would phone targeted victims and pose as bank or government officers to get people to give up their banking information.
Voip will display the actual phone number of banks and government departments and offices on the recipients' mobile phones, making it easy for syndicates to dupe their victims.
SAC Kamaruddin, who is the Bukit Aman CCID cyber crime investigation unit's assistant director, said the 60 people arrested were men and women from Taiwan and China, brought into Malaysia under the pretext of being tourists, to trick their own countrymen.
Police are investigating if locals were involved as the houses had been rented out by Malaysians.
The houses had been set up so that the vice activities were hidden. The conmen taped clothes over windows and set up soundproof booths around makeshift desks from where they made calls. At their phone booths were handwritten scripts of what they had to say to their victims.
SAC Kamaruddin said the scammers lived in the houses they worked in and would stay indoors without leaving for days at a time. They are being investigated for cheating.
Since 2011, more than RM83 million has been lost by victims of the notorious Macau phone scammers. In 2012, a total of 821 cases, amounting to losses of RM22.4 million, were reported.
This article was first published on Dec 18, 2014.
Get The New Paper for more stories.