Four Nigerians, one local woman held over RM1m 'romance scam'

KUALA LUMPUR: A "romance scam" syndicate that fleeced its victims of almost RM1 million was busted early Tuesday during a raid in the city and Selangor.

A raiding party from the federal police commercial crimes investigations department (CCID) arrested four Nigerians and a local woman aged between 28 - 40 during the raid in Cyberjaya, Damansara and Old Klang Road.

It is learnt that each suspect had a role in the syndicate such as identifying victims online and impersonating as courier agents.

Bukit Aman CCID director Commissioner Datuk Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani said police seized 13 cellphones, six ATM cards, six laptops, four bank books, and four vehicles including luxury cars.

"With the arrests and seizures made, we believe that we have solved 43 cases of scams here," he said.

The "romance or parcel scam" syndicate members had used the well-known modus operandi of first gaining the trust of their victims, who were mostly women.

They would then claim a gift or a parcel meant for the victim was stuck at the customs office and a payment would be needed for its release.

A bank account, provided by an account mule, would be given to the victim to deposit the money.

The suspects would then lose contact with the victims once the money has been deposited.

"From January till March this year, the CCID received 581 cases involving parcel or love scam which involved RM23.6 million losses," Acryl added.

It is learnt that the suspects will be investigated under Section 420 of the Penal Code (Act 574), Prevention of the Crime Act 1959 (Poca) and Section 4(1) Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities 2001 (AMLATFPUAA.)

Recently on Feb 13, a joint effort by the Bukit Aman CCID and Singapore's Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) managed to cripple four African scam syndicates following two raids in January in Malaysia.

The joint effort saw the arrest of 27 suspects including 12 African men and the syndicates were allegedly responsible for losses of RM21.6 million, from 65 victims in Malaysia and 43 victims from across the border.