What Is a Macau Scam?
Find Out How Macau Scams Work, How to Avoid Them and What To Do If You’ve Been Scammed
Have you ever gotten a phone call from someone saying you’ve broken the law? Did they ask you to pay a fee to get out of trouble? Or maybe you know someone who’s been scammed out of their savings through a phone call?
If you or someone you know has gotten one of these calls, you may be among the thousands of Malaysians who have been targeted by a Macau scam. This year alone, the Royal Malaysian Police has investigated over 4,000 cases related to Macau scams!
How does a Macau scam work?
Macau scams get their name because they’re believed to have come from Macau. But don’t let the name trick you, because these scams are happening right here in Malaysia.
In a Macau scam, a scammer calls the victim saying they’re from an organisation such as the police, government or bank. The scammer tells the victim that they are involved in a crime or have broken a law, and asks the victim to pay a fee so they don’t get into more trouble.
In many cases, scam victims can’t get their money back. Millions of ringgit are stolen each year due to these Macau scams. In some cases, victims have lost as much as RM2 million.
Who are the targets of Macau scams?
Many of Macau scam victims are senior citizens who are less technologically-savvy. However, there have also been young victims. So, it doesn’t matter how old you are. Always be on the lookout for scams.
What types of Macau scam are there?
Although there are many kinds of Macau scams, the following four are the most common:
- The police/government official:
In a typical Macau scam, a caller acts as a police officer/Inland Revenue Board (LHDN) officer. The caller tells the victim that they are a suspect in a crime or have broken tax laws. They say that the name, MyKad number, and bank account number of the victim is linked to this offence to make their story sound real.
They then tell the victim that they must pay money within a very short time (as a processing fee) to avoid being taken to court.
- The bank officer:
The scammer poses as a bank officer and claims that the victim hasn’t been paying their credit card bills.
The scammer tells the victim to contact another scammer posing as a Bank Negara Malaysia official to make the scam seem realistic. The victim is told to transfer money to the caller, otherwise the victim will be blacklisted or their bank accounts will be frozen.
- The lucky draw:
The scammer tells the victim that they have won a lucky draw. They ask the victim to pay a processing fee to collect their prize.
- The fake kidnapper:
The scammer tells the victim that their relative has been kidnapped and they have to pay a ransom. The phone is passed to a screaming person pretending to be the kidnapped relative.
Why do people fall for Macau scams?
The scammers use a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system so that their phone number appears to be from the organisation that they say they work for.
How do you know if you’re being scammed?
- A police or government officer calls you to request payment.
Usually, the police or government agencies would send registered letters to your address. You’d then have to go through a process including investigation and going to court. So if someone calls you up claiming to be a police or government officer, they’re most likely a scammer!
- You are asked to transfer money to an unknown bank account.
Official organisations like the police, government agencies and banks would never ask people to transfer money to an unknown bank account not associated with the organisation.
- A “bank officer” calls you to tell you to confirm your account number, security questions, or tell them to change their PIN number or transfer money.
Although you might have spoken to your bank about this information before, be aware that it would’ve been at times when you contacted the bank.
- You receive an email from LHDN asking for your bank account number.
LHDN can already obtain bank account information through the taxpayer’s Income Tax Return Form. So only a scammer would call to ask for your bank account number.
What do you do if you get a call from a scammer?
- NEVER transfer money to a third-party or individual account.
- NEVER share your personal information over the phone. This includes your MyKad / bank account number, ATM / online banking password, and your bank TAC number, unless you’re absolutely sure about who you’re speaking to.
- Hang up and call the organisation that the caller claims to be from to check their story. Don’t call the phone number given by the caller, in case that connects you to their partner. Look up the phone number online, and call that number to check.
- Always ask questions if you don’t understand the caller and double check the information given by the caller.
- Check if LHDN’s letters to you are real:
- You can call the Hasil Care Line at 03-8911 1000 or the phone number of the LHDN branch in the letter.
- Check who you’ve been asked to make the payment to. It should only be the Director General of Inland Revenue or the Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia.
What can you do if you’ve been scammed?
- File a report with the Royal Malaysian Police (address: Head Office, Royal Malaysian Police, Bukit Aman, 50560 Kuala Lumpur). You can also contact them at:
- Tel. no.: 03-2266 2222
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Report the scam to the relevant enforcement agency
- If the scammer claims to be from LHDN, file a complaint with LHDN. You can contact the Hasil Care Line at 03- 8911 1000.
- To report a financial fraud, call Bank Negara’s BNMTelelink Call Centre at 1-300-88-5465 (1-300-88-LINK). You can also email them at email@example.com
- Keep records and documents related to the scam and transactions as evidence, including the people you dealt with.
Unfortunately, there are many scammers out there trying to steal the money we’ve worked hard for. So, always be alert and don’t easily trust calls from people you don’t know.
To learn more about scams and how to stay away from them, check out this post on common scams we’ve seen since the start of COVID-19.