When I woke up today, I thought it would be a regular Tuesday morning.
My parcels had just arrived and I was riding on the high of dopamine that comes with tearing into those packages.
Everything seemed perfectly routine until I received a call which I picked up without really paying attention to the number. I simply assumed it was the delivery rider, checking up on me to make sure I had picked up my parcel from the gate.
This was when I almost got scammed out of RM30,000 and to a broke 23-year-old, it was one of the most terrifying moments of my life…
As soon as I said hello, a woman greeted me with a perfunctory “Selamat pagi,” before notifying me that she was from Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri (LHDN). I didn’t think much of it especially since I had gotten an email from them only a few days prior.
It was only after she began explaining the reason for her call that my heart rate started to hasten.
According to her, a supposed company named, Anco Marketing & Supply in the state of Pahang had registered their company under my name using my details. She then revealed that they had not paid their taxes and since I was named as their “director”, I owed RM30,000 which I had to pay before noon.
You could imagine my shock at this point after hearing such a large sum of money tied to my name that I apparently needed to pay if I wanted to evade criminal charges.
As soon as this happened, I started asking the mysterious woman on the other end more questions because the situation immediately struck me as highly unlikely and incredibly suspicious.
At first, I asked for more details about the company. She gave me the company’s registration number and address.
She kept pestering me and her voice was believably tinged with genuine concern. When I told her that I had heard of no such company and that it was impossible for me to even open a company in Pahang since I live in Selangor with no relatives there, she told me that if I were telling the truth, I needed to lodge a police report immediately.
The sirens in my head that were alarming me that this was a blatant scam started to dampen. I thought to myself, “Why would a scammer want me to speak to the police?” It made no sense.
I agreed with her but before I could proceed, I asked which headquarters she was from. She told me she was from LHDN Cyberjaya and even gave me the number of the headquarters.
I then asked for her name which she promptly told me was Nazira bt Haji Ahmad. This was another red flag.
Normally, government servants who call you would refer to themselves by their names as stated in their IC. The name struck me as odd. Why would she disclose the Haji in her surname? That information was neither relevant to me, nor was it necessary. In hindsight, it was probably for her to appear more righteous.
Nevertheless, I mirrored her pestering and continued to ask questions. She gave me the case file number against my supposed “secret company” and told me I had to make a police report as soon as possible. She even told me that she would assist.
Since the incident took place in Kuantan, Pahang, the report needed to be made there and of course, I told her that was out of the question. I was going to make the report, but in Selangor instead. That was when the call abruptly ended.
With my head spinning and heart pounding hard against my chest, I was left completely dumbfounded – phone in my left hand and pen in my right, bleeding blue ink onto a piece of paper scrawled with random numbers.
My instincts told me that this was a scam but of course, the curious writer in me wanted to make sure it was irrevocably true so I dug deeper. To be completely frank, the threat of losing money was also a driving force.
At first, I searched the company registration number and found that Anco Marketing & Supply is an existing company and the address matched the address given to me by Nazira. Since they were real, my anger burgeoned, thinking that whoever it was behind this, they were one shady fella.
So, I consulted my trusty confidant, Google, and what I found completely floored me.
Not only was this company real but it has been used in many previous attempts to scam Malaysians since last year, and some were even fruitful.
I read one recount by a victim where they detailed their experience with this scammer and it mirrored my story to a tee. Thankfully, the individual also realised it was a scam before it cost them any money.
Since their attempt to scam me was cut short, let me explain how it would’ve went down had I fallen prey to their twisted deception.
The call would be transferred to an “officer” and this would be the stage where they would get my personal information such as my IC, bank account number and the amount of money in my account. I would assume that they would delegate their “toughest” sounding team member to successfully convince victims to close the deal.
Upon discovering that this was a scam and that I wouldn’t be losing RM30,000 (thank God because I was thinking of getting that cute dress off Shopee and being declared bankrupt would not bode well for that), I was obviously relieved. This feeling didn’t last long, for it was replaced with fiery anger.
The pandemic is a vulnerable time for many Malaysians and people are struggling financially as it is. These scammers are vicious animals for taking advantage of this situation to further scare vulnerable people to give up money they don’t have.
I was lucky enough to know the skeleton of their modus operandi and have my parents beside me, listening in as well. Had I not known, their convincing trickery would’ve fooled me into debt.
The experience was frightening and I am still jostled as I write this. Anyone could become susceptible to this crime and in order to prevent this from happening to you, dear reader, I would like to share the red flags that I noticed in the conversation that led me to the conclusion that I was indeed being scammed.
Tone of voice
The first red flag was definitely the caller’s tone of voice. Despite sounding concerned, the scammer also used threatening words in order to push me to make a decision.
In my case, she used, “Jangan buang masa saya,” which I found incredibly rude and off-putting. But, I have had bad experiences with people over the phone before so I chalked it up to a worker having a bad day. In actuality, no government worker should speak to you like this especially on such a sensitive topic.
Legitimate callers will put you at ease and use formal language when speaking to you. This phrase alone should have snapped me out of this trance but I must admit, the fear fogged my judgment and I hope that by sharing this now, it would be made scintillatingly clear for you.
Impossible time limit
The second red flag was the dire time limit I was given. I received the call at 10:12am and I had to pay the money by noon. This was too short notice for anyone to choke up RM30,000, unless of course you’re an heir/heiress.
Obviously, if the matter was so important, I would have been notified weeks in advance or even months via email or post. A phone call felt urgent and that planted the idea that I was either in deep trouble or just being scammed.
The third red flag was the mention of a fax. Not to be insensitive but, does anybody in this generation use fax machines anymore? [Ed’s Note: In Japan, yes.]
It struck me as completely outdated and nonsensical. Some of us don’t even have printers let alone fax machines. But to ease my growing suspicions, Nazira spat out a bunch of numbers at me to convince me this was all legit.
Transferring your call
The final red flag was the police report itself. Feigning concern, Nazira was going to transfer me to a police officer so I didn’t have to go through the hassle of doing it on my own.
Instead of letting that happen, I insisted that I called her back so I could lodge a police report in Selangor first. She became increasingly impatient and when I remained adamant about my decision, that was when the call ended.
Had this been a real case of a genuine government worker, they would have given me time to process this information. They would hold while I spoke to my parents or when I told them I needed time to find a pen and paper.
In the case of this scammer, she had absolutely zero patience and of course, time was of the essence here and the less time I had to think, the higher the probability of this scam working. She even warned me not to talk to a third party because I was running out of time.
All in all, the lesson here is to take a deep breath and stand your ground. If the person calling you is really who they say they are, they will have no problem waiting on the call for you.
Ask as many questions as you want and make sure you have your laptop open in-front of you so you can double-check all of this information on the spot.
Never give up any personal information to anyone. No matter how pressing the issue might seem, government officials will always contact you through authenticated numbers and avenues such as email or post.
If you have someone else there with you, put the call on loudspeaker and record it. Make sure to gather as much evidence as you can so if it does turn out to be a scam, you can hand all your materials to the police.
Variants of these scams include claiming that you illegally sent your IC by mail/parcel delivery; “marketing promos” where scammers urge you to reveal SMS codes for online shopping platforms; scammers posing as debt collectors, and more.
As a final note, I will share all of the numbers and information I gathered from this call so you can be more cognisant of this Anco Marketing & Supply scam.
Nazira bt Haji Ahmad (phone number): 019-408-5494
Fax number: 03-83137843
Stay safe out there folks! Spread the word and hopefully, this wouldn’t happen to you or your loved ones. But if it does, just pretend your ex-Malaysian PM, Dato Seri Najib and troll them back like this dude…