Thursday, June 3, 2010

Housewife loses RM1.2mil to Internet conman

Housewife loses RM1.2mil to Internet conman

By CHRISTINA TAN

KUALA LUMPUR: A 47-year-old housewife lost all her savings and money borrowed from her family and friends, totalling RM1.2mil, to a conman she befriended on the Internet.

The sum also included her mother's lifetime savings, husband's investments, and the savings of her sister and niece.

The woman, who wanted to be known only as Madam Lee, said the man, claiming to be a British offshore engineer named Jeff Brian Manik, had added her as friend on an Internet chat room last year.

Lee said the man told her he was sending her Easter gifts that included a designer wristwatch, perfume, Louis Vuitton bag, jewellery, laptop and camera, and his latest picture, through courier in April.

"He called and wanted me to pay RM16,500 as a deposit to claim those gifts, which I did by banking the money into two local bank accounts, but I did not see those gifts at all," she told a press conference held by MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Michael Chong Thursday.

She said she received an email from a man claiming Manik's agent about two weeks later, who said Manik wanted to make property investments in Malaysia and needed her help to handle his 2.3mil pounds of funds during the transaction.

"I was convince after I met the agent, who had a suitcase full of pounds, at a hotel, and he asked money for transfer charges," she said.

Lee said she deposited and paid cash close to RM400,000 to various agents via different accounts, between April 20 and May 11, to ensure the investment money arrived without problems.

Subsequently, Lee said she deposited RM586,000 to a company on May 16, after receiving a call from one of the agents that there was a 5% tax charge of the 2.5mil-pound fund.

On May 26, Lee said she paid another RM258,000 to the same company.

Lee said she felt something was amiss when she did not receive the gifts but was convinced by the man after listening to his plans to invest in Malaysia.

"I just wanted to help a friend but I did not expect it turn out to be like this, I want the money back to pay back my family and friends," she said, adding that she had never met Manik and lodged a police report few days ago.

Chong said he had received complaints from 18 women over similar scams, totalling more than RM2.4mil, since 2007, and warned people to be wary of such conmen.

Blogger: This kind of stories happened all the times on the internet and the modus operandi is almost the same. But so many people read about similar stories on the media and the stories repeated itself. This is because of greed.

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