Those who were supposed to protect us allowed the syndicate to continue.
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Posing as an officer from government authorities and threatening victims is the main modus operandi of the Macau Scam syndicate.
They have been duping victims across Southeast Asia for several years, with the number of victims in Malaysia being particularly high. The Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) reported that around 6,500 Malaysians fell for the scam between 2018 and September 2019.
“Life-savings lost to Macau Scam”
Earliest reports of the scam occurring in the country surfaced sometime in 2017. Although there were several reports in the past that police had successfully busted the scam and arrested suspects, the syndicate still managed to continue operating.
News reports of housewives, retirees, school teachers, and the like losing hundreds of thousands of their life savings would occur at least once a week. Utusan Malaysia reported that Malaysian victims have collectively lost RM405.7 million to the scam in the last three years.
Finally, it seems that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) may have caught its ringleader. The ensuing investigation also appears to have uncovered a deep running syndicate that stinks of corruption and bribery.
It is suspected that the scam was able to operate successfully for so long because it was being protected by high-ranking officers within government enforcement agencies.
Macau Scam Mastermind?
The suspect currently at the centre of the investigation is 32-year-old, Goh Leong Yeong, commonly known as Alvin. At the moment, he is being tracked down by PDRM after fleeing from MACC headquarters.
Alvin had earlier been detained by MACC for his suspected involvement in the Macau Scam. However, they had released him on bail before he escaped arrest by the police.
The syndicate was reportedly discovered by the MACC Anti-Money Laundering Divisions after investigations were conducted. Following that, five individuals, including men with Datuk and Datuk Seri titles were arrested.
Since then, more people have been apprehended and questioned in the ongoing investigation.
Corruption and bribery kept the syndicate alive
According to a report by Utusan Malaysia, Alvin had allegedly “spent” up to RM4 million a month just to cover up his purported crimes.
Alvin had also apparently used a fake “Datuk Seri” title to reinforce his criminal activities in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.
Profit from the scam and illegal online gambling activities were divided among various parties who could have reported the illicit activities. According to Malay Mail, up to 100 people may have received money from Alvin.
This includes influential people, officers and policemen who have been detained or investigated by the MACC. The money was ‘paid’ to protect Macau scam crimes and online gambling as well as provide information if the authorities were planning a raid.Utusan Malaysia source via Malay Mail
On 8 October, MACC arrested 20 individuals involved in the scams. Of those arrested, eight were police officers who, according to MACC Chief Commissioner Datuk Seri Azam Baki, were believed to be giving protection to others also involved in the syndicate.
The lavish lives of Macau Scammers revealed
MACC has since frozen 730 bank accounts with funds amounting to RM80 million, and seized RM5 million cash believed to be proceeds of money laundering and other illegal activities connected to the Macau Scam syndicate.
Besides cash and bank accounts, we seized 23 luxury vehicles, including Bentley, Ferrari, Rolls Royce and some high-powered motorcycles.Datuk Seri Azam Baki via NST
From their investigation, MACC also found that the syndicates had created hundreds of shell companies to launder the money they acquired illegally. Those involved are believed to also lend money to legal business entities and later become share signatories of the companies to ensure the business owners pay them back.
According to Azam, the scammers also sometimes channel the money through loan sharks.
Investigations are still ongoing as we are tracing many other assets that have been acquired through money laundering.Datuk Seri Azam Baki via NST
Starving forensic investigator turned writer cause she couldn't find a job. Used to search for killers now searches for killer stories.