Eighteen women in Selangor have fallen prey to a scam where they receive calls on their mobile phones, showing the caller IDs of their loved ones.
The person who calls will identify himself as a "narcotics police officer".
The "officer" tells the women that their husbands or children have been arrested for drug offences and that they have to pay money for their release, Malay Mail Online reported.
The victims say they have heard their sons and husbands crying over the phone during the call, which made them fall for the trick.
As it turns out, their husbands or sons were actually at work, the report said.
The women, aged between 28 and 70, parted with amounts ranging from RM500 to RM50,000 (S$193 to S$19,365), with a total of RM195,000 taken from them.
The women never met the people they paid the money to.
They were told to put the cash wrapped in newspapers in rubbish bins, under cars at a carpark and or other public places around Petaling Jaya like bus stops, phone booths, petrol kiosks, bank entrances and even a Chinese temple.
None of the women tried to verify where their loved ones were. And none of the victims' children and husbands even had criminal records.
Petaling Jaya police chief Assistant Commissioner of Police Azmi Abu Kassim said 18 such cases were reported in Selangor last month.
He said the fraudsters had used Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) in their scam. With VoIP, scammers can call a person's land line or mobile phone with cloned phone numbers.
ACP Azmi said the fraudsters knew the victims well, including information like their financial backgrounds and how close their family ties were.
The targets were mostly elderly mothers who were alone at home, he said.
He said the victims said they believed the calls because they were the legitimate phone numbers of their children and husbands and they got to speak to their so-called "loved ones".
"The fraudsters would convince the mothers by passing the phone to 'actors' who would cry and ask for help," he said.
Said ACP Azmi: "The calls will be made in the morning. By noon, the fraudsters will receive the money and the victim will realise they were cheated in the evening."
He said the calls were traced to a telecommunications provider in Africa and most of them were made locally. Police are investigating if foreigners were involved.
This article was first published on November 5, 2014.
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