The “Macau Scam” – Part One

By Gunasegaran Munusamy Head, AKPK JB Branch
  1. What is Macau Scam and why is it a threat?

• The Macau scam is a fraudulent syndicate run by both locals and foreigners, through making random phone calls impersonating as personnel from Bank Negara Malaysia, police officers, court officials and government agencies, among others.

• Over the years, various scare tactics have been used to deceive victims, resulting in losses

  1. How does the Macau Scam Syndicate deceive victims?
  • The Macau Scam Syndicate uses various modus operandi to deceive victims into giving up their money. Usually, scammers will pose as law enforcement officials and bank officers, telling the victims that they have been involved in a crime or have outstanding bank loans. In order to convince the victim, other syndicate members will disguise themselves as BNM officers or police and ask for the victim’s personal information.
  • For example, a victim receives a call from someone claiming to be a police officer from the police headquarters, who informs her that she is involved in a narcotics case. She is then patched through to someone claiming to be from BNM, who tells her that her bank accounts would be frozen for investigations.
  • Syndicate members are quick to note even the slightest hint of fear in the voice of potential victims and use it to their advantage. Once the victim panicks, it is easier to influence the victim. The victim is then informed that in order to avoid her bank account from being frozen and to facilitate investigation, the victim has to transfer all the money in her bank account to a third party account (allegedly belonging to BNM).
  • The victim is also ordered to keep the matter a secret, supposedly so that it will not interfere with the investigation, and to contact BNM officials or police again within a few days. Usually, the victim only realises it is a scam after failing to contact the BNM officer or police.
  • On top of misusing the names of BNM, police and financial institutions, the syndicate is increasingly misusing the names of other agencies such as court officials and fine-tuning their modus operandi. What we have to keep in mind is that regardless of the type of modus operandi used, the syndicate’s main objective is to prey on the element of fear and shame to get their victims to comply with their demand.