Monday February 4, 2013
Many locals victims of online scams
By STEPHEN THEN
MIRI: The number of Sarawakians cheated in online scams is surprisingly large, and they are surprisingly frequent, with cases involving huge amount of money reported every month.
SUPP information chief, Datuk Sebastian Ting, told The Star yesterday that his party had been inundated by frequent appeals for help from victims of the scams.
He used the word “surprisingly” big because with so many such cases happening, and with so much publicity being given to the cases, the general public would have be-come wise and be more cautious.
However, he said, it seemed that despite the high number of victims and wide publicity, even more people have become victims again and again. SUPP offices across the state, including here, have received increasing number of reports of such cases from victims, he claimed.
“The number of reports we get, and also the reports lodged at police stations, have shot up and they are increasing all the time,” he said.
According to him, it would appear that some people were making it too easy for online scammers to cheat them by being too easily coaxed into revealing their personal data, financial details, bank accounts and other details.
“It is extremely difficult to solve such cases because it involves tracking down the senders of the messages, which means getting the cooperation of telecommunication companies or multimedia sources,” he explained.
He admitted that SUPP did not have enough manpower and expertise for such an endeavour.
He further pointed out that if the victims had already made payments into bank accounts, there was a need to track down the account holders and look at the details of the accounts.
“This would involve banks or Bank Negara. Tedious legal processes would be involved,” he said.
Ting, who is Piasau SUPP chairman and the proposed SUPP candidate for Miri parliamentary seat in the coming elections, was commenting on yet another local scam involving more than RM100,000. Two brothers had lodged a police report claiming that they had been cheated of large sums of money by a woman who claimed that she was dying from cancer in the United Kingdom.
She allegedly cheated them into depositing money into dubious ac-counts by telling them that she would donate US$15mil to them to distribute to local churches and or-phanages. Ting yesterday said SUPP had issued many warnings and advice to people on how they could avoid being cheated in such scams.
“The very basic principle is that if you receive an offer of big sums of money from sources you do not know, you must immediately be suspicious.
“If something is too good to be true, then it may be a scam. If there is demand for money up front, that is already a reason to ignore the message and terminate any contact with the sender immediately,” Ting said.
Ting urged members of the public not to entertain such messages or to discuss terms and conditions with them because the more they respond, the higher the likelihood that they would end up as victims.
He warned the public that such scams were orchestrated by people who were very convincing and who knew the tricks of their wicked trade.