JOHOR BARU, June 23 — The Johor state police said they have crippled a fraud syndicate that masqueraded as a part-time employer of agents for a popular sales app by arresting 22 people in Kota Tinggi here.
The suspects, 11 local men and 11 local women aged between 15 and 28 years’ old, were arrested in separate raids on four guarded residences on Monday.
In the seven-hour operation that started at 4pm that day, police also managed to detain the call centre’s head.
Johor police chief Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said initial investigations revealed that those working in the call centre were offered wages ranging from RM1,000 to RM3,000 a month.
He said that the figure was excluding commissions for the agents’ successful scams.
“Further investigations revealed that the group had a network with another group from the syndicate’s headquarters that are currently operating at an unknown location.
“The headquarters group will make announcements through social sites and send short messages via WhatsApp randomly to the victims by offering part-time jobs as online buying and selling application agents to generate side income,” said Ayob Khan in a media conference held at the Johor police contingent headquarters here today.
Ayob Khan explained that the victims were then instructed to call the telephone number included in the message.
“The telephone number contacted by the victim would be answered by the syndicate’s group members manning the call centre, before they offered the jobs.
“The syndicate would offer for the victim’s to be a permanent agent or ‘VIP’ with a commission of eight to 15 per cent, depending on the amount purchased,” he said.
Ayob Khan said before being appointed as an agent, the victim must first buy goods in a non-existent trading application and would later have to make payments to a bank account controlled by the syndicate.
“The syndicate will later promise that the commission would be credited within 10 to 15 minutes after payment was made.
“The syndicate would later fail to be contacted and the victim will realise that they had been duped by the syndicate,” he said.
Ayob Khan added that the syndicate had been operating for the past month and was known to have changed its operation location to avoid being caught by the authorities.
He said investigators believe that the syndicate still has several networks that were active in fraudulently offering jobs.
“They mainly target Singaporeans as their main victims, especially those who have lost their jobs since the Covid-19 pandemic stated,” he said, adding that police also confiscated various equipment including 48 mobile phones, 12 laptops, two notebooks and two units of internet modems used by the syndicate.
The suspects have since been remanded for three days to assist in investigations under Section 420 of the Penal Code for cheating.
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