Cindy Shoba (not her real name) is a desperate 39-year-old spinster in a hurry to find a foreign mate to tie the knot.
She found one over the Internet two months ago. But last week her dream turned into a nightmare. She almost lost RM10,000 to the boyfriend who turned out to be a conman out to fleece her.
Like Cindy, there are many unsuspecting women who turn to the Internet to find foreign husbands, usually "Mat Sallehs", but end up being cheated of thousands of ringgit.
The perpetrators, mostly from Nigeria and Algeria, have now changed their modus operandi trying to fleece women looking for love.
Although such scams have been around for some time, the perpetrators are now using the name of the Immigration Department to con unsuspecting female victims.
The latest - trying to get the victim to pay "release" money following their "arrival" at the KL International Airport.
Like Cindy, divorcee Rafidah, a 49-year-old school senior assistant from Perak, too nearly fell victim to this tactic used by these conmen who claim that they have been detained by Immigration at the airport for carrying large amounts of money and that the "officer" wanted some money to release him.
To augment their story, they get a fellow partner in crime, usually a local woman, to call the victim and identify herself as an Immigration officer and ask for some money to release the boyfriend.
The woman told Rafidah she was an Immigration officer and that her friend was in custody for bringing in "too much money".
She said Rafidah would have to pay RM50,000 to be credited to a given Maybank account. Rafidah told the woman to give her a few minutes for her to check how much she had in her account.
Sensing something amiss, Rafidah called a friend and told her the story. The friend told her to ask for the woman officer's office number in order to verify her story. The woman suddenly turned angry and said if she did not deliver the money to the account, her boyfriend would be detained.
In Cindy's case, she befriended a foreigner, M. Morrison, after she posted her profile on friendship network, Tagged.
After two months, he finally committed himself to coming to Malaysia and meeting her parents and asking for her hand in marriage.
"He called to say that he would be arriving at the KLIA on Friday night. I tried to reach him for two days but his telephone was disconnected.
I panicked thinking something might have happened to him," Cindy said. Then, on Sunday morning she received a call from a person called Diana who told Cindy that her friend was detained at the airport for carrying a large amount of money.
She gave a bank account and told Cindy to bank in RM6,000 before Monday when the Immigration officer would start processing him for the "crime".
"I panicked and pleaded with her to speak to my friend and she obliged and gave the phone to Morrison who told me the same story. When I told this to my friend, he called a Malay Mail reporter who checked with the Immigration at the KLIA and found that nobody by that name had been detained.
According to crime analyst Dr Kamal Ariffin, these conmen are operating from Malaysia and come to the country on student visas or social visit passes and continue staying in the country until they make a substantial "killing." They then leave and come back another day.
According to Malay Mail investigations, the conmen make an impression on their victims by calling them from "abroad" on their handphone when in fact they are in the country using prepaid telephone cards purchased overseas.
"Last week, the father of a victim from Johor called me saying his daughter was asked to pay some RM7,000 to get her present, a diamond ring sent to her by a foreign boyfriend whom she had befriended over the Net,"
He said a women identifying herself as a Customs officer called her to say a package had been confiscated by the department and asked her to credit the amount to a given bank account before she could come and collect the parcel.
She told her father after she found she had been conned. "And the photos the conmen send when they are courting local women are in fact somebody else's, " Kamal added.
Source: The Malay Mail
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