Regardless of whether there is an economic boom or economic recession, the possibility of people falling victim to scams is always there. More so during the economic slowdown, people will become more vulnerable to financial tricks and scams. But even when a person has a stable job or is living comfortably, they can still fall victim to scam and sometimes it is so convincingly done that you do not realise until it is too late.
The media constantly highlight the different type of scams that are used to trick victims into parting away with their hard earned money ranging from few hundred to millions. I was also targeted numerous times through email, phone calling and even letters.
Thankfully, I have managed to avoid the traps laid out but there was once where I nearly did give in and believe that by parting away with some money I will be able to gain manifolds in return. Luckily, I thought through the whole thing and realize that it was a scam.
As such, I hope to share and provide some of the type of scams that are common in Malaysia:
Deceptive lucky draws
There are two types of prize draw scam. With the first type, you receive a letter saying you have won a large prize. However, you are asked to send a fee to receive it. If you read the small print, it says you are only being entered into a prize draw.
The second type says that you have won a prize but have to order something from a catalogue to receive it. Again the small print makes clear that you are just being entered into a draw.
There are variations, sometimes it maybe through phone. I myself have encountered it and find it very well planned. Firstly someone would call you saying you have been chosen to be in a lucky draw. Few days later, you have ‘won’ and would be required to meet a lawyer to get release letter to obtain the prize. However, the lawyer happens to be outstation the prize will expire when the lawyer comes back. Hence to circumvent the rule, you would have to pay a fee and bank in direct into an account.
Scratch and win
This scam is so widely spread that it was banned to more victims. However lately, there seem to be reemergence of this scam again. Generally, the victim is being persuaded to try her luck and pick one of the envelopes that and upon scratching would win a prize. Then the victim would be guided to an office to collect the prize but would be required to pay a certain sum to settle government taxes and sign an agreement. Upon paying, the victim would realize that the victim has actually paid for the prizes.
Advance fee fraud
This is very common and anyone with an email account would have received it once. It maybe in the form of a letter, fax, e-mail or telephone, and usually concerns an amount of money that your correspondent needs to get out if their country. The victim is offered a large sum of money as a reward for helping with the transfer that is supposedly stuck. Some how the emails address seems weird; they might have gotten your name wrong and the letter is at times badly written.
Typically, the sender would claim to be a senior government official, a senior bank officer, an accountant with a state owned corporation, or perhaps a relative of a deposed or dead politician. It will also be marked “Strictly Confidential” or “Urgent”, and that the sender is writing to you at their own risk sincerely hope to share the returns.
Work at home/business opportunity scams
This scam tends to hit those seeking for part time jobs and is likely to be more popular because of rising unemployment. Typically theses scams are advertise in newspapers at times as an alternative income and usually stress the advantage of working from home ‘when it suits you’ or provide flexible work time.
In order to be eligible you need to spend money for registration, at times for training or to make photocopies, take out newspaper ads or buy software. If you buy craft kits and make items you may find the promoter will not pay out because your work does not come up their standards.
At times it be also similar to a pyramid selling scheme and the only money available is by getting other people to sign up. The distinction between a scam and Legitimate work-at-home promoters is that the latter would have start up costs and the work should not be so easy that it seems unbelievable no one has discover this gold mine. Before entering into any financial commitment check whether you can verify information with other workers, obtain as much data on the company and others.
The list above is not exhaustive but I hope this would provide some information on the type of scams used frequently in Malaysia. Nevertheless, I believe if we follow the below thought process it may help in identifying possible scams;
1. Is the competition too simple?
2. Does it seems too good to be true?
3. Are you are required to part with some money before you could claim your prize or reward?
If it is a yes to the above, please be very suspicious of the offer or the person giving the offer especially if it is not from a reputable firm. I hope and urge the public to be wary and to be extra cautious as there will be more scams due to the economic slowdown.
Lastly, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Walk away if in doubt and always think twice before you part with your money.