Scams are part and parcel of modern-day life, and they’ve become even more rampant online, where grifters ply their trade on social media and in thinly guised emails. However, there are also scammers who are brave enough to do it face to face, even faking tears in hopes of selling their sob stories to the next kind soul to cross their path.
A victim of such scams shared with WORLD OF BUZZ about how he got scammed in ‘broad daylight’ at a supermarket in Mutiara Damansara while he was grocery shopping recently.
It was about 3.30pm when the victim, who wishes to be identified as Alex, was interrupted by a guy who started off the conversation by complimenting his appearance, saying that he looked “more educated and sympathetic than everyone else he asked around”. He then proceeded to narrate his story of why he needed monetary help from Alex.
He told Alex that he had a job interview at a bank that Saturday morning (4 May) and that he had somehow misplaced his wallet containing RM1,200. Alex says in hindsight, he should have been suspicious about this as banks are closed on weekends.
The scammer then said that he made a police report regarding his missing IC and even showed Alex the report.
Note the date, name, phone number, and IC number.
Telling Alex he was planning to make a new IC, the scammer needed the necessary documents – which he claimed were in his hotel room. However, he also claimed that the hotel wouldn’t let him into his room unless he paid them. This was a second red flag for Alex as hotels don’t usually require their customers to pay in order to enter their own room, plus, he was puzzled at why the scammer didn’t have a key.
The scammer then added that he had no way of contacting his friends and family in Kedah as his car was out of petrol.
Trying to remove Alex’s doubts, the scammer then proceeded to try to convince Alex that he genuinely needed help and even asked Alex to take a photo of him and his police report. He told Alex to check the SPR website to confirm that his name matches his IC number, which evidently, does.
Attempting to seem even more sincere in his pleading, the scammer shed a few tears and made sure Alex saw his red eyes, which Alex suspects was triggered when the scammer coughed, giving him the opportunity to sprinkle some pepper into his eyes.
Concluding his story, the scammer asked Alex for RM1,200 so that he could pay the hotel and promised that he would pay Alex back the next day.
Refusing to be gullible, Alex told him that he didn’t have cash, but was willing to go to the hotel and pay the fee via credit card. However, the scammer said that it was a budget hotel that only accepted cash. Alex became even more suspicious as hotels aren’t usually known to deal with cash ONLY.
At this point of time, Alex started to question his own doubts and was unsure if the guy was actually lying or telling the truth. Nevertheless, Alex offered to buy him petrol for his car, but he said that it was somewhere in Puduraya. He had only managed to make his way to Mutiara Damansara because someone else was kind enough to shuttle him to a nearby police station to make a report.
In the end, Alex agreed to give him RM300, which was more than enough to get him back to Kedah.
About 20 minutes later, it started to dawn on Alex that he might’ve actually been scammed. With the details that he managed to obtain, he did a Google search on the scammer and stumbled upon two similar cases that happened in PWTC and Seri Kembangan last year (2018).
In hopes of catching the scammer, Alex tried walking around the area but the scammer was gone. He admits that although he was suspicious enough not to give him the full amount, he was too nice and ignored all the red flags – an act of kindness which cost him RM300.
Alex ends his story with a disclaimer, saying that the actual person may be an innocent victim living in Kedah, his details being used to legitimize the scam.
I guess it is safe to say that you should never give money to strangers no matter what the amount. You’ll most probably end up being scammed and you’ll never see your money again.
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