Now and then, we will be inundated with reports of folks being conned online.
This occurs so often that you would believe our police department is now taking action to put a stop to it. After all, this is the only rational measure to prevent other individuals from being duped out of hundreds, if not thousands, of ringgit.
This is far from the reality with Malaysian authorities still baffled about how to deal with fraudsters.
Victim Successfully Traced Scammer
When Shahrul Ashraf Sallehuddin, 38, saw an RM720 Sharp R32 1HP air conditioner on Facebook on May 25, he was intrigued.
He made the order without hesitation since the pricing was low and seemed to be a good deal. The seller who went by the name Isaac Chooi asked Shahrul to transfer an upfront payment of RM570.
It wasn’t suspicious at first as the payment was made to a company account and the seller provided him with an invoice of his purchase.
The seller soon disappeared after full payment was made and Shahrul took the next step to catch the scammer.
He started tracking the bank account owner’s information on the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) website.
He emailed the scammer a copy of the SSM and IC number and threatened to file a police complaint in order to have the fraudster’s bank account closed.
Shahrul also left a comment on the seller’s page alerting others that the profile belongs to a scammer.
After leaving a remark on the scammer’s page, nine additional people messaged him reporting being robbed by the same account.
The scammer reimbursed everyone’s money totalling RM8,580 in two days.
Shahrul expressed gratitude for being able to collect his money but hoped for more aggressive police action. The scammer’s bank account wasn’t frozen after this incident and was able to walk free.
Police Officer Responses Back to Victim
It’s not the duty of the authorities to get back any victim’s money, a senior police official told Free Malaysia Today in response to Shahrul’s story.
He provided that the reason why police officers aren’t able to help victims is because police officers aren’t authorised to do so by law.
“I understand that victims want their stolen money back. If I were a victim, I would want my money back, too. But we have to follow the law,” said the police officer.
Scammers and account mules are frequently mistaken in the public’s mind, he said. It is illegal to allow someone else to use your account, and account mules are those who do just that.
“Scammers are not so stupid as to use their own bank accounts. That means when one perpetrator is arrested, it is likely that the scammer is still at large,” he concluded.
Authorities restricted by law towards helping victims isn’t necessarily breaking news.
According to Muslim consumer organisation (PPIM) campaigner Nadzim Johan, the police need to enhance their treatment of scammers and their victims.
He opined that certain investigators need to adopt a more open-minded approach. They need to express care and do whatever they can to explore this matter.
Nadzim also claimed that there are dozens of victims who came to PPIM after being failed by the police and PPIM managed to solve some of these cases.
If our police aren’t tasked with recovering scammed money, will we see more scammers run freely in the future?