Mother loses $18,000 thinking son was arrested for drugs

Mother loses $18,000 thinking son was arrested for drugs
PHOTO: Reuters

KLANG - "Your son has been arrested for serious drug offences. He is not bailable. But we could help you to see your son a different way."

One call from a "police inspector" got a mother frantic into believing that her 32-year-old son was really arrested.

She later became RM50,000 (S$17,946) poorer after paying the "inspector" who promised to let her see her son, who was actually never arrested.

The housewife who wanted to be known as Madam Lee from Taman Bukit Jed in Seremban said that she received that fateful call at about 10.30am on Wednesday from a man who claimed to be Inspector Tan.

"He read my son's name and said that the crime he committed was serious and was not bailable.

"He told me that my son would be sent to the detention centre soon and asked for RM120,000 if I wanted to see him and get the case settled.

"My heart was racing when I heard this. I told the man I did not have that much of money and we agreed for RM50,000 after some negotiations," she said when met here Saturday.

Lee said the man allowed her to speak with her son over the phone.

"I could hear my son crying and calling out for help. He even said he had no idea why he was found with drugs while helping his colleagues to move stocks while at work.

"This strengthened my belief that it was my son. I was stunned and felt desperate after the call," sobbed Lee, who has heart ailment, adding that the man really sounded like her son with the way he addressed her and how he spoke.

Lee said she tried to call her son on his mobile but to no avail.

Then she received a call from her son's number with the inspector's voice on the other end, telling her to hurry if she wanted to save her son.

She did as she was asked, staying on the phone with the fake officer every step of the way.

"He then told me to put the money in an envelope and drop it under a tree near a parking compound in front of a bank in Pasar Seremban.

"He even told me to walk away without turning my head. But I did and saw a man on a motorcycle picking up the envelope before fleeing.

"He then told me not to worry and that the case will be settled. He said my son would go home soon."

Once she had dropped off the money, Lee gathered herself and went home before calling his son again.

Her son was at work in Bukit Jalil at the time, unaware of anything that had happened.

"He had never been arrested. That was when I realised I was cheated," said Lee, adding that she lodged a police report with her family members at the Jalan Campbell police station later.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) was believed to have been used to clone the number of the victim's loved ones, so that the child's name would show up on the caller ID.

The scammers would even sometimes employ "actors" to cry in the background to trick them into thinking that their loved ones were in distress.

Klang-based social activist Peter Tan, who highlighted Lee's plight at his residence here called on members of the public to be wary of scammers, who use technology to their advantage.

He said he would seek the help of Bukit Aman's commercial crimes department to hasten investigations into the case.

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