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Monday, August 16, 2010

200 cheated of RM10mil by Africans claiming to be college boys

At least 200 people in the city have been conned of nearly RM10mil since early last year by Africans who entered the country on student visas, but never once stepped into a classroom.

Although these so-called “students” are enrolled in top colleges under fake scholarships, they are more often spotted cruising in flashy cars and frequenting nightspots.

These Africans are believed to be conmen who plied their shady trade overseas before dumping their ill-gotten gains in local banks and “settling down” here.

However, once here, they continue their activities by duping Malaysians of their life savings, using bank accounts of locals to cheat their victims, who are mostly single successful women, either divorced or widowed.

Among the most common scams are tricking Malaysians into paying for non-existent gifts, buying coloured water as “vaccines” to keep cattle healthy and disease-free, and “black money” cases.

City Commercial Crime Investigation Department chief Asst Comm Izany Abdul Ghany, who revealed this, said it was alarming that despite numerous warnings, Malay­sians continued to fall into the conmen’s trap.

He said scams operated by Africans topped the list of commercial crime cases in the city, reeling in the largest amount of ill-gotten money.

“The numbers are rising. Between January last year and June, locals in the city alone were cheated of nearly RM10mil, and the figure could be higher because some victims are still unaware that they are being conned. “The scams are committed throughout the country but the exchange of money usually takes place in the city,” ACP Izany said, adding that over 100 women and 80 men were conned since early last year.

ACP Izany said checks showed that these Africans had committed similar scams in other countries before coming to Malaysia.

“After these syndicates are busted, they enter Malaysia by using fake scholarships apparently given by their country of origin.

“Once here, most of them never even step into the classroom as they are too busy cheating our people,” he said.

ACP Izany said many of the women conned would freely give up their money after being swept off their feet by Africans who lured them with sweet talk and promises.

“The conmen target single women in their 30s and 40s. The victims include doctors and university lecturers,” he said, urging higher learning institutions and relevant agencies to scrutinise carefully the applications of foreign students.

Federal Commercial Crime Investigation Department’s Cyber and Multimedia Investigation Division assistant director ACP Mohd Kamarudin Md Din said in some cases, the victims had met the conmen through social networking websites. They would usually post pictures of other people, sometimes of famous models, just to get closer to the victims.

“By using pictures of other people, these conmen are already committing an offence of identity theft,” he said, adding that despite repeated warnings about people using false identities on the Internet, Malaysians were still being duped.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin said there was a “small number” of foreign students involved in crime here, most of whom had entered the country illegally.

He urged the police to provide the ministry with relevant information so that appropriate action could be taken.

The Star 16/08/2010

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