Scammers use big names to lure victims

PETALING JAYA- MCA Public Service and Complaints Department chairman Datuk Seri Michael Chong said the most common SMS scams use the names of big companies to cheat victims.

He said the most familiar were those urging people - via SMS or phone call - to claim "prizes".

"It's a simple trick but there are people who still fall into the trap. When the victim believes that he or she has won a prize, the scammers ask for 'fees' to claim it," he added.

"These scams defy logic, yet people believe them. How can anyone win something if the person did not take part in the competition?" he asked.

Chong said he had been handling more than 40 cases each year, with victims losing thousands of ringgit.

"Even if one has won RM20,000, why would the person pay more than that to claim the prize? But this happens," he said, citing the example of a man who was cheated of more than RM800,000 after being told that he had won a prize at the Hong Kong Turf Club.

"He was asked to pay a 'membership fee' to claim the money. Then he was asked to pay legal fees and administrative fees. In the end, he lost more than RM800,000," said Chong, adding that the victim even went to Hong Kong thinking that he had won the prize.

Chong said that he once pretended to be the father of a woman who was being cheated with the same modus operandi.

"I called and asked them if they would allow me to claim the prize first and then pay them the fees with a share of the prize money but they refused, clearly confirming that it was a scam," he said.

Meanwhile, Association of Banks executive director Chuah Mei Lin urged the public to remain cautious and responsible when they are asked to reveal personal information to avoid being cheated by scamĀ­mers.

"Always remember, regulators and banks already have your personal details stored and will never ask you for your personal information over the telephone.

"This message has been emphasised many times although we understand why a person in a state of panic may end up falling prey to such attempts," she said.

Chuah said the association had worked with member banks to introduce anti-fraud systems that monitor the spending patterns of credit card holders.