“I truly believed everything was real and that I was just unlucky to have my identity stolen and wanted to cooperate in every way possible because I didn’t want to go to jail.”
We hear about someone getting scammed on a daily basis, nevertheless, it doesn’t take away from the fact that there are some truly heartless people out there robbing people of their hard-earned money. Twitter user Trina (@trinatriangle) shared her story of how she got scammed RM15K when she received a call from the Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia (LHDN).
On 21 January, she received an automated call giving her a final warning about paying her income tax. As she was under a lot of stress at work during the call, she failed to notice that the call was made from a personal number.
An “officer” picked up her phone who said she wasn’t briefed on this case thus her call was transferred to the “Chief Officer”, Puan Nazirah, who claimed to be the Chief Operating Officer of the LHDN HQ Cyberjaya. Nazirah told Trina that she has not paid her income tax for 15 months and that there is a company registered under her name and IC number that has avoided tax for the past 15 months.
Nazirah then said she would transfer the call to the emergency police hotline at IPK Kuantan Pahang. According to the officer, a police report has to be filed in the same state the crime was committed before the end of the same day, at 5pm. If the police report is not filed and not received by Nazirah at 5pm, she has to submit this to the court meaning Trina would get blacklisted and the money owed will be deducted from any bank accounts under her name.
Trina realised after the issue was over that a police report can be filed at any police station and over the phone which will be then be sent internally to whichever police station is nearest to where the crime was committed.
“However, at the moment, this did not cross my mind as I was still in a state of panic.”
Once her line was transferred, Trina was asked the following things:
- Personal details
- Why she called the police: Someone had been using her information to open a company. She doesn’t want Bank Negara to perform any deductions from any account registered under her name.
- Once the police report was filed, she needed to request the police to fax the report back to Pn Nazirah.
All while this was happening, Trina couldn’t stop crying and she was even comforted by Pn Nazirah. She truly believed it to be a real case of a company stealing her personal details because the way Nazirah reacted was so surprising and she played the kind and compassionate role really well. This led Trina to believe in the whole story thinking it was genuine. Her call was then transferred to Sergeant Nafi who said he will call her back from another phone to start recording the call. The sergeant told her to Google IPK Pahang’s number which will be used to call her with some additional numbers at the front to indicate it’s “being recorded”. (Recording code: +87 -, IPK Pahang number: 03-5052222).
“+87 is NOT a recording code, it might be an international number but I didn’t Google it. They used the real police number at the end to trick you into thinking it’s official.”
The sergeant asked some details, repeated all the company info, and got her house address to send the police report to. While on the call with her, he called the Bukit Aman police department, spoke over a walkie talkie and confirmed a bunch of stuff to this other “police department”.
“I suspected that Bukit Aman was somewhere in KL but my bad geography made me doubt myself. I thought it was somewhere in Kuantan hence the walkie talkie. If my geography was stronger, I would’ve flagged it beause walkie talkie can’t be used across states.”
The person over at Bukit Aman police department searched her IC number and said there was an arrest warrant on her name. The reason for the arrest was money laundering and drug smuggling.
Trina was asked to “talk sweetly” to a Datuk to help her case
As the case was too big, the call transferred to Tuan Inspektor Efizul whom Trina described as a loud and angry man. He told her that they have a man in custody. Trina felt a paralyzing fear wash over her when the inspector spoke to her as even as she tried defending herself, he would poke holes into her explanation and treated her like a suspect.
“I have a fear of authority and so he took advantage of that. He played the role really well too.”
The thief was caught with a lot of drugs in his car. The money laundered into the bank account under her IC was RM2.28 billion and he took 20% of that illegal money as his commission.
Even though she tried to defend her innocence, the Inspector kept yelling and even repeatedly told her that she was not allowed to talk about this case to anyone under Act 88, Akta Rahsia Rasmi 1972 which was repeated multiple times. Trina remembers the “police” even flat out threatened her that if she dared to leak any details of the investigation out to anyone, he would do the extent of damage done to the case (because the investigation would be ruined) ten times more back to her.
In the end, the Inspector said he will take an inventory form. He asked Trina for all her bank account details, amount and all her insurance plans.
The Inspector then said he would transfer the call to a “Datuk ACP Ridzuan” and told Trina to plead with him and always address him as “Datuk”. He suggested to seek help from the Datuk and informed that she was involved in the Lim Kok Seng case. The call was then transferred to the Datuk who continued to yell at her and gave her two options:
- He will collect all her banking information. She would need to bring two sets of clothing and get locked up for 45 days.
- Go via the procedure of the court investigation with AMLA (Anti-Money Laundering Act), let them investigate her bank account for 24 hours.
Trina chose the second option and the Datuk requested her to:
- Give all her bank account details (card no, PIN no, online banking username and password) for AMLA
- She must change all her PIN numbers and online banking passwords once the investigation is over.
- Transfer all the money in her account to another bank account in batches
At this point of time, her second bank blocked her account because maybe fraudulent activities were going on and the bank was calling her repeatedly. Over WhatsApp, Datuk Ridzuan asked her not to speak to any of government officials or banks.
On 22 January, Trina managed to find a lawyer who took her case up.
At this point, she still didn’t tell anyone of her predicament and when she told this to the lawyer, he flagged it as a scam immediately. The lawyer ridiculed the tactic that the police used and asked to “talk sweetly” to the Datuk. He then asked her to check her bank account which she did through the hotline as the bank account was blocked.
That’s when she found out that there were five withdrawals amounting to RM15,500! The lawyer told her to go to the bank, get her bank statement as proof of the money withdrawal, and file a police report.
What did Trina learn from her traumatising ordeal?
As her final thoughts, Trina said they used a lot of psychological tactics where they use a kind and compassionate lady, in the beginning, to comfort you when you are scared then using yelling and accusatory aggression to break you, and then throwing you a bone by “giving advice on how to speak to the head of the case” so you feel grateful that someone is helping you in this ordeal.
Even days after the incident, she still replays his words in her mind and remembers how alone she was. They said she had to be in a secluded area when speaking.
“It was a really emotionally and physically draining experience and I would never want to wish it upon anyone.”
This isn’t the first time such a scam has happened but kudos to Trina for coming forward with her experience to educate the public. Scams like these can happen to absolutely anyone and at any time. So let’s raise awareness to prevent it from happening to another person again. Nobody deserves to go through the mental and emotional struggles that Trina went through.
Also read: PDRM Warns Public Of New Scams Targeting To Take Over WhatsApp Accounts