GEORGE TOWN - He thought he was the "chosen one" when an e-mail purportedly from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation implied that he would be given 15.9mil pounds (S$33.5 million).
But the ice cube supplier ended up losing RM1.46mil (S$517 million), scammed by a Nigerian-operated syndicate that has been active for the last three years.
The victim, in his 60s from here, made 51 transactions to several bank accounts belonging to syndicate members over three months from March.
He believed the payments were for "processing fees" to the "authorities" to secure release of the RM94mil.
But his patience soon ran out. He lodged a police report on June 19.
Police have since arrested five Nigerian men, aged between 20 and 30, and two local women, aged 40 and 55, to facilitate the probe.
Penang Commercial Crime chief Asst Comm Azmi Adam said the suspects were picked up during an operation codenamed Ops Merpati in Kuala Lumpur and Damansara, Petaling Jaya, on June 30.
He said initial investigation revealed that the Nigerians were students of a local college, while the local women own the bank accounts into which the money was channelled.
"The victim was duped into believing he was one of the 50 lucky recipients to have been chosen by the United States Government to receive the fund.
"The Nigerians have been here for at least two years. We also seized handphones, ATM cards, laptops and other items from the suspects.
"The money belonging to the victim has been withdrawn by the syndicate members.
"Nevertheless, we still discovered about RM1mil in the bank accounts purportedly banked in by other victims living in a neighbouring country," he said during a press conference at the state police headquarters yesterday.
ACP Azmi said the case is being investigated under Section 420 of the Penal Code for cheating, which carries a jail term of not less than one year and not more than 10 years, whipping and a fine.
He reminded the public not to fall for offers "that sounded too good to be true".
"There is no free lunch in this world. Please verify with us if you receive any suspicious email or SMS," he said.