by Joven Junip
It’s a scam. A phrase we have heard very often because it means that someone had been scam out of their hard earn money. What is a scam? According to the Cambridge dictionary, a scam is an illegal plan for making money, especially one that involves tricking people. It involves tricking someone of their money in simple term. The Businessdictionary.com defined it as a fraudulent scheme performed by a dishonest individual, group, or company in an attempt to obtain money or something valuable. Scams traditionally resided in confidence tricks, where an individual would misrepresent themselves as someone with skills or authority i.e. a doctor, lawyer, investor. Now with this definition, it is clear to what a scam is that are hotly debated in our local and international media. In this era of information technology, more and more information is shared among those online, hence we are more vulnerable to scam. According to Dr. Frank Mcandrew, PhD, a psychology professor from Knox college, Galesburg Illinois in his article entitled “Why We Still Fall for the “Nigerian Prince” Scam” at phycologytoday.com gave a general reason on why we still fall for this kind of scam even though we are highly educated. He mentioned that most of us profess unrealistic optimism about our own futures, our grades will be better next semester, a new job will be much better than an old one, and our next relationship will be the one that lasts forever and research shows that we consistently overestimate our knowledge, our skills, our intelligence and our moral fiber. In other words, we truly believe that we are savvy and that nice things are likely to happen to us. In my own experience working for a government agency that handle bankruptcy in Malaysia, fear of the unknown seems to be the reason why many people fall to the scam. For instance, in May 2018, we received 6 complaints. That were from those whom had the ability to question the scammer and check with us about the call they received from the high court employee or from a prominent lawyer firm. In which that they’re told they have a bankruptcy case and have less than 3 hours to bank-in a certain amount of money to this particular account if they don’t want to be declared bankrupt. These people whom does not know how bankruptcy presiding are all about and fear of being declared bankrupt, would just pay that demand. There was never a case to begin with. Those who came to ask for explanation on the matter are the lucky ones to escape such scam but we wonder how many people that had actually paid the demand? Normally these people as Dr. Frank say, is overconfident on their own knowledge and skill, would never report the crime because again, fear of being ridicule by others for not being able to distinguish between a real issue and a scam. An article in The Star newspaper on 24 September 2018 written by Chelsea L.Y Ng and Fatimah Zainal about the scam that was reported in Malaysia recently which is known as the Macau scam. The victim who is an account executive admitted to embezzlement and indirectly cause her bosses to be sacked because the embezzlements. What she did all because of love towards a British man that she only met once. Due to the future romance, she was fooled into giving millions to the man in 2013. This is a classic case of the Macau Scam which in a way, a variant of the Nigerian prince scam. In my view, this is not a direct scam but poor choices of the victim to actually do an act of crime by doing embezzlement to supposedly help out her lover. She knows it was wrong even before she noticed it was a scam so why did she did it? Was it in the name of love? It was the poor choices of an uninform individual that created this situation. According to the Star journalist Malaysia that is said to be prime hunting ground for the Macau scammers. There are a few survivors of this scam whom aim individual ability to handle panic situations. Intimidating their victims is also another technique, claiming to be a police officer coming to arrest them. Senior citizen is also their main target because senior citizen thought to be more prone to panic and are not able to think straight at the situations. Countless reports had been done by victims from various country around the world, but the authority sometimes would never able to get the culprit because the criminal would have withdrawn the money right after the money is bank in and by the time the authority launch an investigation the account would had already been closed. To get those whom open the account to be charged with scam they would need evidence and normally the victim would only have the phone number which can easily change and register under a different name, account number which could already be closed. No paper trail because it was on the phone information and it was time sensitive actions. The criminal would They always use the time factor to trigger the panic and hence get the victim to comply to their demands. Another characteristic that the victims would easily fall to is their flimsy attention to detail. For example, if the scammer used this particular bank as his reference, those whom are sure they do not have any business with that bank would not have fallen for such tactics but then again if their doubt occurred because once they did apply for something but cannot remember when or if it ever got approved, this is when the scammer would have a door opening to grip the victim to believe their scam. Always understand the procedure of what the scammer are trying to convince you. Time is always a factor in the scammer plan, if they do not allow you time to gather information on the matter and even time to gather fund for example, it most certainly be a scam. More information is your amour against such scammer. Hence it would be worthwhile to invest in some time to understand how things work.