African gang behind RM12m scams and robberies smashed

KUALA LUMPUR: Four members of an African gang were arrested and another shot dead by police in Ampang on Saturday. They were believed to be running a currency exchange scam and were involved in multiple robberies.

City police chief Commissioner Datuk Seri Mazlan Lazim said the gang could have been involved in 14 (2016), 21 (2017) and five (2018) similar cases, with reported losses of at least RM12 million.

"This year alone we have five cases which recorded about RM1.2 million in losses," he said.

He said the "Gagak Hitam Gang" had recently scammed a 29-year-old Malaysian who was lured by their offer of paying a black market rate of RM6.50 for each US dollar. They posted the exchange service on YouTube and Facebook.

"The victim met with a local suspect and brought along US$150,000 (RM595,000) to be exchanged in a laptop bag at a high-end hotel at Jalan Tun Razak around 11.45pm on Friday.

"Moments later, a Middle Easterner and another local arrived in a vehicle before they decided to bring the victim to another location where the exchange was to take place," he told reporters at the KL police headquarters, here today.

The victim was brought to a remote location in Cheras where there was another vehicle with four Africans inside, who were waiting before brandishing their machetes and robbing the victim.

"Our personnel from the serious crime division (D9) were alerted with the incident. They were apparently at the same location for their crime prevention rounds.

"The two suspects in the initial vehicle quickly got into the African's vehicle and fled the scene. A high-speed chase between the police and the suspects ensued (on) roads along Ampang Point," he added.

The suspects then abandoned their vehicle and attempted to escape on foot in different directions.

One of the suspects who escaped to a construction site was shot dead after he charged at a policeman with machete.

"A policeman was nearly slashed by the man. We had to shoot him in self-defence," added Mazlan.

Police managed to nab four more suspects, an African, a Middle Eastern man, and two locals who initially arranged the currency exchange deal.

Mazlan urged the public to be wary and avoid falling prey to illegal currency exchange groups.