KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian and Chinese police crippled an international syndicate running the infamous 'Macau Scam' that had swindled over RM12million (S$4.5 million)from Chinese and Taiwanese victims here.
An operation led by SAC Kamaruddin Md Din, saw officers from China's Interpol and Bukit Aman's Commercial Crime Investigation Department arresting 60 suspects during raids in three houses in the Klang Valley.
The scammers, who set up their seedy operations base in houses in Taman Seputeh, Taman Cheras and Bandar Sri Damansara, have been operating here for about three-months.
"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," SAC Kamaruddin explained Tuesday.
Voip will display the actual phone number of banks and government departments and offices on the receiver's mobile phones, making it easy for syndicates to dupe their victims.
SAC Kamaruddin, who is Bukit Aman CCID cyber crime investigation unit's assistant director, said the 60 arrested were men and women from Taiwan and China, brought into Malaysia under the pretext of being tourists - to scam their own countrymen.
Police were also investigating if locals had a hand in the syndicate, as the houses were rented out to them by Malaysians.
At the raided houses, scammers went to great lengths to hide their vice activities from the outside world.
They taped clothe over windows and set up soundproof booths around makeshift desks where they make calls to their victims.
At their phone booths were handwritten scripts of what they had to say to their victims to guide them through the process of getting scammed.
SAC Kamaruddin said the scammers lived in the same houses they worked in, and would stay indoors without leaving for up to days at a time.
They are now being investigated under Section 420 of the Penal Code for cheating.
Since 2011, more than RM83mil have been lost by victims of the notorious Macau phone scammers.
In 2012, a total of 821 cases, amounting to losses of RM22.4mil, were reported.
Last year, there were 967 reported cases involving losses of RM25.8mil.
Up to August this year, there were already 885 cases that had resulted in losses of RM26.8mil. 145 people believed to be behind the scam had been arrested up to August this year.