Selangor Police detained 44 members of an African Scam syndicate in several operations conducted around Puchong near here last week. Head of the Selangor Commercial Crimes Investigation Department ACP Mohd Sakri Ariffin said in the operations which began at 11.45 pm on Nov 16, 36 suspects were detained at an entertainment centre in Puchong while another eight suspects were detained around the town the next day.
“The suspects who were detained were 24 Nigerian men, a local man, nine local women, three women each from Nigeria and Thailand, two Filipinas, one each from Vietnam and Indonesia, all between 20 and 30 years.
“Checks on all the suspects found that 13 police reports had been made against a local woman who was a member of the syndicate, while another local woman was believed to have been involved in cheating a businessman in Kuala Lumpur of RM2.9 million.
“All the Nigerian men had entered Malaysia as students in local private colleges and the local women were bank account-holders who acted as authorities to scam victims,” he told a press conference here today. Mohd Sakri said investigations conducted on the suspects brought the police to a house in Puchong which was their operations centre, where 14 laptops of various brands, two cheque books, bank account books from several banks, as well as five ATM cards from different banks were seized.
He said the modus operandi of the syndicate was to befriend victims through social websites. “After winning the trust of the victims, the syndicate would scam the victims by telling them they would be given gifts, including cash or luxury items such as jewelery and expensive handbags as a show of love, but these items had been detained by the authorities at the airport.
“The suspects would then use the local women who masqueraded as the authorities, either from the Customs Department or the Immigration Department to contact the victims and ask for payment to release the items. The victims would only realise they had been scammed after making several payments but still not receive the items,” he said.
According to Mohd Sakri, the victims would be told to bank in money into the accounts of the local women who were members of the syndicate. All the suspects are being investigated under Section 420 of the Penal Code, he said. He added that from January 2016 till yesterday, 554 cases had been reported involving African scams in Selangor, with losses of up to RM20.8 million.