GEORGE TOWN: The proliferation of Macau scams has left police in a fix.
When the men in blue call individuals in the course of their investigations into unresolved cases, they are often mistaken for scammers.
Fearing the worst when they receive unfamiliar calls, the individuals being contacted have been hanging up on the investigators, forcing then to make repeated calls to explain that they are real cops.
In Penang, there have been at least 20 cases of such scams in the past five months, leading to wide publicity on the modus operandi of the scammers, and therefore greater public awareness.
Southwest district police chief Supt V. Anbalagan is not amused.
He stressed that those receiving calls should listen carefully to what the caller has to say.
“In most cases, the police officers call because they want the person to drop in at the police station for their statements to be recorded or for eyewitness accounts to be verified.
“When we call, we do not ask for money so they should not hang up on us,” he said.
Anbalagan pointed out that Macau scam callers who impersonate police officers usually fool their victims by using VoIP (voice over internet protocol) to make it seem that the call is coming from an official police phone number.
He said Macau scammers only operated through the phone, and they seldom asked to meet their victims.
He said those who received calls about a crime that they were supposedly linked to should realise they have nothing to do with it in the first place.
It has been reported that thousands lose an average total of RM2 billion each year in Macau scams, e-commerce fraud and e-mail love scams – all of which are committed through the internet.
In the first half of this year, a total of 5,069 people had been cheated of more than RM250 million.
Police from the commercial crime division have picked up 1,973 people this year for involvement in cyber crimes.