That’s how much Malaysians lost to the “African scam”, last year alone.
If Malaysia made its own version of 80s hit movie “The NeverEnding Story”, it would be based on the premise of silly, gullible people falling victim to scams.
A recent report in Malay daily Harian Metro says the losses were incurred from only 1,750 victims, almost 70% of whom were women.
“Records show that 1,205 of the total were women and the remaining 545, men. The number has also seen an increase from 1,095 cases in 2013,” said the report.
It all starts with correspondence in the social media.
The daily spoke to a victim, a 36-year-old single mother who only wanted to be known as Rohana. She lost more than RM350,000 in cash and her house, to a trap set by an African conman, who pretended to be a Scottish citizen called Marc.
Barely a year into their friendship, Marc convinced Rohana to become her partner in his “oil and gas” business in Sabah.
“He was very convincing when he spoke about the business. He often demanded money from me to face “teething” problems in the business, which I banked into a third party account.
“Even then, I was not suspicious of his real motives. I was convinced that I would soon get back my investment,” she told the daily.
Pressed for cash once, Rohana even sold her house in Selayang to pay the conman, which earned the chagrin of her family members.
Rohana still harbours hopes that she will get her money back.
“I was in touch with him several days ago and he assured me that I will get my share. He told me he was in Sabah to run some business related errands and I plan to give him another RM2,000 to help him settle whatever is pending,” she was quoted as saying.
This despite the only form of correspondence Rohana has with Marc, is via Facebook.
Another victim the daily spoke to, was also a single mother aged in her 50s. This woman lost RM72,000 to a conman, through the “Parcel scam” – where she was asked to pay the money in order to retrieve a parcel with “special gifts” addressed to her, from the Customs Department.
This woman, despite being told by the reporter that she may have fallen victim to an African Scam, refused to believe it and said she had never heard of such scams.
Wow, such stupidity, and gullibility. Some people can’t see a train wreck headed their way, even if it hit them on their faces.
The plight of both women were highlighted to the daily by the Malaysian Muslim Consumers Association (PPIM) and the police.
Just two days ago, police arrested 10 Nigerian men and a Filipino woman for running such scam in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur.
The suspects, aged between 25 and 35, had all entered the country using student visas.
There truly seems to be no end to cases of locals being conned by Africans, who see our shores as a goldmine, and rightly so.
Women like Rohana and her likes are prime examples of “money can buy you anything but a brain”.