ANN/THE STAR – A 23-year-old woman and her husband are living in fear after they were targetted by an extortion racket.
The woman, who wished to be known only as Loo, said a man had sought her husband’s Facebook advertising consultancy services via WhatsApp on November 20.
“The man was using a Singapore number and introduced himself as Ben. He then paid a total of MYR2,100 as the service fee in helping him advertise on Facebook.
“However, later the same month, Ben claimed to be unhappy with the services and demanded MYR20,000 in compensation,” she told a press conference organised by MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Seri Michael Chong yesterday.
Loo said Ben began to send photos of burned vehicles to her and her husband and threatened to do the same to them if they did not pay. “He also texted my photo and personal details while threatening to burn my house if the sum was not paid. On December 24, my father’s vehicle was burned and Ben even sent a video of the act.
“I am very scared this man would do something worse,” she said, adding that she has since lodged several police reports.
Chong said it is a new tactic by an extortion racket to demand money from victims.
“These syndicates would take up services from businesses and claim they were unhappy as a basis to demand compensation.
“They will then use force to intimidate the victims. Be careful when dealing with people, especially online,” he said.
In another case, a 32-year-old hairdresser was also targetted by an extortion racket after she borrowed money online. The victim, who wished to be known only as Phang, said she initially wanted to borrow MYR5,000 on October 11 but received MYR3,000 instead.
“I ended up paying RM7,000 within 10 days. I thought it was the end of it but this so-called money lender demanded MYR50,000 because he claimed it was accumulated fees for late payments,” she said at the same press conference.
After she was not able to pay the sum, her house and workplace were splashed with red paint, she added.
“The same man also threatened to burn my house if I was still unable to pay the MYR50,000. Apparently, they charge a fee for every loan repayment that is late,” she said.
The lender even told Phang of their past misdeeds including burning people’s cars and houses, she said.
“I have since lodged two police reports. When I lodged the reports, the police informed me that there were other victims as well,” she said.
Chong said he suspected it was a similar extortion syndicate operating under the guise of a money lender.
“These conmen even claimed to have police connections but I highly doubt it. I am sure the police will go all out to nab those responsible for extorting people,” he said.
Chong also advised the public to only take loans from legitimate financial institutions or money lenders.