SMS Cheating Syndicate Busted

10 January 2009
Tawau

15 people including 2 women were arrested on Friday during a raid in Taman Masaic, Tanjung Batu, at 2am on suspicion that they were part of a syndicate that has been cheating people into believing that they had won prizes via the short messaging service (SMS).

The suspects, aged between 23 and 35 years old, were all Indonesians except for one who was a Malaysian and are believed to have been involved in 115 cheating cases worth RM1.9 million since 2006. A woman and her 2-month-old baby were found with no valid travel documents. Police seized 56 mobile phones, 17 bank savings account books, 7 Indonesian passports, 8 Indonesian border passes, a television set, 33 bank ATM cards, RM7,000 cash and 2 million Indonesian rupiah cash.

The syndicate works by sending out SMS to victims informing them that they had won prizes sponsored by Petronas, Shell and Akademi Fantasia and had to wire transfer money into a bank account to claim the prizes. The bank accounts used by the syndicate were usually owned by rural people who were willing to give them their ATM cards in return for cash. Sometimes, the syndicate even helped the rural people to open bank accounts with ATM cards.

The suspects are being held under Section 420 of the Penal Code.

The Star Online – SMS cheating syndicate crippled
<URL:http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2009/1/10/nation/20090110152313&sec=nation>

The Star Online – Syndicate using SMS trick crippled, 15 held
<URL:http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2009/1/11/nation/2995776&sec=nation>

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