Remember when we were kids, our parents used to tell us not to accept any sweets from strangers? As we grow older, we tend to forget that advice.
That is probably why many fall victim to scams and fraud. In fact, it was reported that in 2016, one million Malaysians lost RM5 billion in a money game investment scams while 500, 000 Malaysians were reported to have been victims of illegal investment scams since 2015.
Sounds ridiculous, right? While you may think that you’d be smart enough to spot a con-artist, some can be scarily convincing… like these six people:
1. The con-man who ended up being conned… by his victims?
A con-man who was known as ‘Adam’ by his victims was convincing and persuasive. He would grin to his victims whilst saying,
“Trust me. I’m an artist, why would I cheat you?”
Not only did he live lavishly, he even had proof on his Instagram account that he had connections to big shots in the country. However, his days as a smooth-talker came to a halt when his victims decided to form a secret group to catch him.
One of his victims, an investor named Fizz told Astro Awani how he lost some RM 5, 000 to the con-man who falsely enticed him with a membership card to get sponsors from brands like LV, Gucci and Hermes.
“He cheated so many people, not just me but my friends and even using our names to con others. We just wanted this thing to stop.” – Fizz told Awani.
Fizz became the leader to the group who wanted to get back at ‘Adam’. It started off when Fizz met other would-be victims of ‘Adam’ at an event and shared his horror story of being conned by ‘Adam’. This was when they got the idea to get back at ‘Adam’.
The group which communicated through Whatsapp and Instagram grew larger from its initial first seven people. They later set a meet up for ‘Adam’ with potential buyers to trap him. However, when they executed the plan, they found out that ‘Adam’ was being fished by another two men who wanted to trap him too.
While ‘Adam’ was busy dealing with the two men, Fizz’s group rushed in and caught ‘Adam’ with the help of auxiliary police. They brought him to the police station that evening itself.
Surprisingly, about 20 victims were gathered at the scene. These victims were from about 40 cases ‘Adam’ was involved in.
2. The fake dentist who was also a social media celeb
Nur Farahanis Ezatty Adli or better known as her Instagram name, Nara, started fitting braces on people at the age of 19 when she was a student at a vocational college in Melaka. She offered her dental services through her Instagram account which had 12, 000 followers. She claimed to have learnt her ‘dentistry skills’ from YouTube… like those make-up tutorials.
But, how did this case go viral?
In August 2016, Nara lodged a police report against two of her customers when they didn’t pay RM 700 for her service. But, the tables turned when the Health Department figured out that she was a bogus dentist based on the report she made. So, they raided the homestay where she was offering her unlicensed dentistry services in January 2017 after they had enough evidence against her.
Despite getting raided, she was persistent in continuing her business with a smile. In fact, in her Instagram post, she also thanked the Health Ministry for supporting and approving her business. (They actually didn’t.) Not only that, she was thankful to the people who complained about her claiming they were the ones who brought her fame.
“Thank you to those involved and also to those who tried to bring me down for making me better known, richer and more successful.” – Nara said in a video she posted on a private Instagram.
She was found guilty on September 2017 for running an unregistered private dental clinic under Section 27 of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998. She was then jailed in Sungai Udang Prison in Melaka after she failed to pay a fine of RM 700, 000. However, instead of serving the original six-month jail term, she was released after only… SIX days!
Apparently, a motorcycle club called Dragon 76 managed to raise RM 700, 000 to pay her fine. One of the club’s member explained how they only helped Nara because they know her father and that they feel like she has a bright future ahead of her but not cos she’s pretty. Their act of bailing her out sparked an outrage among netizens on social media.
However, Nara wasn’t the first to have pretended to be a medical professional…
3. A bogus doctor who loitered around a Kedah hospital for a year
Ever wonder what it feels like to pretend to be a doctor? A man in his 30’s called ‘Dr Ridzuan‘ did exactly that for over a year in Sultanah Bahiyah Hospital, Kedah when he donned a lab coat and a stethoscope around his neck as he walked around public areas in the hospital. He was usually seen at the Emergency Unit or the Specialist Clinic. At times, he would reprimand the cleaners for not carrying out their tasks properly. Quite brave for someone who faked his identity!
Fortunately, he didn’t have the access to other places especially wards since he didn’t have the access card. So, he didn’t attend to any patients throughout his visits to the hospital. He managed to trick everyone in the hospital into thinking he was a doctor there until a senior doctor discovered that there was no such doctor by the name of Ridzuan in that hospital.
‘Dr Ridzuan’ was found with two name tags (Dr Ridzuan and Datuk Ridzuan) in his possession when he was brought to the hospital administration for further investigation. He was arrested and sent for a mental check-up but was later released.
But, how is it even possible for him to loiter around the hospital for a year?
Dr H Krishna Kumar, former president of Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) explained how hospitals differ from military service. Unlike military service, hospitals have many entry points that made it almost impossible to trace all doctors registered in a hospital especially if it is a huge building. So, anyone can just wear a lab coat like ‘Dr Ridzuan’ and walk around pretending to be a doctor.
But we’re NOT telling you to be like ‘Dr Ridzuan’ because hospitals, especially Sultanah Bahiyah Hospital, has been tightening their security measures and improving their current system to avoid cases like this from happening again.
4. The USM lecturer who forged his doctorate certs
Faking certificates isn’t a decent way to get a job. While most lecturers would normally remind students to not plagiarise and cheat, this lecturer got his job with forged documents.
N. Thevananthan applied a job as a lecturer at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Penang like a normal person in August 2008. After he presented his supporting documents (yknow all the certs you carry around during your job interview), USM accepted his application and he became a lecturer.
However, in June 2011 (yes, three years later) USM discovered that the documents he presented were forged! Not only did he lie to USM by using false documents but he forged his PhD cert from the American University of Maryland and Doctorate in Neuroscience from the University of Toronto, Canada.
When USM tried to confront him, he tendered a 24-hour resignation.
He was charged under Section 420 of the Penal Code for cheating that would cause him a jail term of up to 10 years with whipping and an amount of fine upon conviction. As of March 2018, Magistrate L. Umma Devi allowed bail at RM 17,500 for both charges and fixed April 9 for document submission.
But Thevananthan wasn’t the only one who forged documents…
4. The technician who (technically) robbed a bank in Damansara Heights
He is a technician of all sorts, you name it. Air-conditioner? Computer? Heck, fire extinguisher?! He’ll come and ‘fix’ it for you.
Except he isn’t a real technician.
The man who was believed to be local was only armed with papers when he entered a bank in Damansara Heights in September 2017 as a fire extinguisher technician. He came in with a supposed floor plan of the bank but failed to provide the bank manager with his identification when he was asked for one. Instead of leaving the premise, he waited as the bank manager left for lunch.
He then pretended to check on the fire extinguisher before sneaking through behind the bank’s counters. Although the safe room required a pass code possessed only by the bank manager, he managed to disable the auto-latch door by placing a piece of magnet on it when the cashier entered the room.
The technician managed to walk away with RM 600, 000 ‘coolly’ as quoted from The Sun Daily. He could even chit-chat with the security guard on his way out of the bank!
The bank manager discovered about this heist after his lunch when he couldn’t find the technician in the premise. He then reported the case to the police. However, the bank manager and chief cashier were the ones suspended by the bank in this case after being remanded to help the police with the investigation.
The technician who is still out there has been cheating people since 2014. It was reported that he was linked to 20 other similar cases. One of his victims, Zie Chong told Malaysian Digest that the technician came to his shop in Bangsar and informed him there was an ongoing pipe repair work near his shop.
“Our shops are connected and this made us concerned about our water supply too. The suspect took this opportunity to roam around and steal a handphone from the office before fleeing.” – Zie Chong, taken from Malaysian Digest
Zie also shared a CCTV footage of the technician stealing the phone:
6. The broker who scammed 15 contractors in Ipoh
As if cheating one person isn’t enough, a broker who goes by the name of ‘Faiz’ cheated 15 contractors!
He posed as a broker under the Perak State Forestry Department, offering projects that has never existed to his victims. One of ‘Faiz’s’ victim was Safaruddin Arif who claimed he invested RM 148, 000 into a project as it sounded convincing.
“He said he did several projects for the state Forestry Department and showed us the letters to prove it.” – Safaruddin told Malay Mail.
‘Faiz’ also introduced Safaruddin to another individual whom he claimed to be the director of the Forestry Department but Safaruddin later found out that both the project and director didn’t exist. Safaruddin confronted ‘Faiz’ about the matter, but ‘Faiz’s’ wife and mother came along, and both pleaded him not to lodge a police report against ‘Faiz’. That was the last time Safaruddin saw ‘Faiz’.
It shocked Safaruddin to know how he wasn’t the only one who have been conned. Another businessman, Aznul claimed he knew the conman since 2015 and had several successful business dealings with ‘Faiz’. Aznul’s problem only began in December 2016 when he invested RM 120, ooo but didn’t see any profit.
“I believed him when he said that because he has handled some genuine projects with the forestry department. (But) we found out that he did not complete any of those projects.” – Aznul told The Star.
Aznul then posted on Facebook about his lost investment only to discover that other businessmen were in similar situation. About 15 contractors lost a total of RM 2.5 million to ‘Faiz’. The police told the victims that ‘Faiz’ might be a professional fraudster.
Although they have different methods to con, they have one thing in common…
If ugaiz noticed, although all six Malaysian con-men have different method to con others, all of them are good at persuading their victims into believing they are who they claim to be. They also build trust with their victims to ensure that whatever they say and do are believable.
Jim, the veteran scammer we mentioned in the introduction, shared that his ability to persuade people gave him the job as a closer in over 30 fraudulent business operations. He also shared that it’s not about how smart victims are but how well they can control their emotions. Apparently, anyone can be a victim if a con-man gets to drive a victim’s need (like the need for money to support kids) and greed (the promise of profit to victims).
Additionally, Jim claimed that older people and men are more prone to being victims of fraud especially when it involves investments. Apparently, older people’s emotional needs are closer to the surface while men are said to be more emotional and full of ego. No wonder the victims in most cases presented are male.
Regardless of gender and age, people, in general, are at risk to fall for scams and fraud. Malaysians are getting more concerned of being scammed especially with the emergence of technology. A study by Telenor Group revealed that Malaysia is the most vulnerable country to online scams, with 46% of respondents claimed they have been victims of scams.
“The bottom line is, fraud is a crime that can happen to anyone, given the right con man and a victim with the right set of circumstances.” – Jim to AARP.
That is probably why it’s wise to be wary of whom to trust but, most importantly, trust your gut instinct. If it tells you an offer is to good to be true, then it probably is. 😉