Scammers targeting sellers in Malaysia's top online marketplaces

File photo of an online transaction

GEORGE TOWN - Scamsters are now preying on those who post their valuables for sale at a top local online marketplace in Malaysia.

A businessman, who wished to be known only as Tony, in his 30s, alleged that he nearly became a victim of the "advance fee" fraud after being told to refund a potential buyer via an online transaction.

"It started when I posted a branded wallet on the website for sale last week. Shortly after, I received an e-mail from a woman who wanted to buy it for her niece in Indonesia.

"The so-called buyer, who claimed to be a Briton, agreed to pay RM1,500 for the wallet. I gave her the parcel's details and tracking number and she too showed me the number of her bank's wire transfer order.

"Her bank even sent me a notification, claiming the money would be released within 72 hours. However, I received an e-mail notification from the bank several hours later, saying the account had been frozen.

"The e-mail instructed me to make a refund via Western Union or MoneyGram as the buyer had paid me extra due to the fluctuation in the currency exchange rate," he told The Star yesterday.

Tony said everything looked so genuine, from the bank's e-mail to the recipient's address in Indonesia.

"But I was still suspicious, so I did an Internet search on the bank and noticed a slight difference in the bank's e-mail address. So, I called off the transaction.

"The buyer threatened to lodge a report with Interpol against me for alleged breach of trust, and that was the last I heard of her," he added.

Tony said he lost several hundred ringgit in shipping fees but eventually managed to get his wallet back.

Bukit Aman Cyber Crimes and Multimedia division investigator Asst Supt Mohd Syafiq Jinuin Abdullah said they had received reports about such scams every now and then.

He said these people would come up with new tricks to scam victims and the modus operandi mentioned by Tony was just one of many.