Scratch and Win Scams New Trick

I was Surprise to see the Scratch-and-Win Syndicate still do their business as usual.

Their Profit must be very Good else they will close shop already by now.


Maybe as long there is an element of Human Greed or Ignorant, this Scratch-and-Win Syndicate will still be around to catch their prey.

The scratch-and-win was an illegal activity and those involved could be jailed, whipped and fined under Section 420 of the Penal Code for Cheating.

Now, it is a school holidays period and youngsters seeking part-time jobs should be careful not to be a part of this illegal scam activity.

It the Parents responsibility to keep a close eye on their children and the organizations they get involved in.

For more information on Scratch-and-Win Syndicate SCAM, please visit Beware of Scratch-and-Win Scams

Please to be alert and not fall prey to such Scratch and Win Scams New Trick.


Not an ‘a-peeling’ win


KUALA LUMPUR: Scratch and win scams has now evolved to become “peel and win.”

Instead of scratching a card to reveal the prizes, victims now have to peel open letters to see what they had won.

A 17-year-old student who only wants to be known as Chin became a victim when he was approached by a couple while shopping at Times Square on Aug 17.

He was asked to peel open a card-like envelope and was told he had won a car.

Several newspaper cuttings with pictures of those who had purportedly won were shown to him to gain his trust.

Chin was later brought to an office in Taman Desa here and was asked to pay RM5,600, which included payment for government tax, transportation and advertising costs.

The overjoyed Chin paid RM3,400 and in return he was given a mattress, vacuum cleaner and air purifier.

“While taking the things to his home in Old Klang Road by taxi, Chin related what had happened to him to the taxi driver,” MCA Public Services and Com- plaints Department head Datuk Micheal Chong told a press conference.

Chong said the taxi driver later told Chin he had been deceived and asked him to seek the MCA’s help.

Chong said when he asked Chin to go back to the office and ask a for receipt as proof, the office staff refused to give him a receipt and instead asked him to settle the full amount if he wanted one.

“And Chin was given a certificate stating how much he should pay,” said Chong.

Neither the man nor woman staff member could be reached through their handphones.

Chong said between March and yesterday, 32 other victims who sought his help had reported losses amounting to RM180,000.

“Of these, I solved six cases and managed to get back a total of RM72,000 for the victims,” he added.

Chong also urged the public to be careful and not to be deceived by such scams.

He said victims were usually approached in supermarkets around the Klang Valley.

“I will send a letter to supermarkets asking them not to allow tricksters into their premises,” said Chong.

18 Responses to “Scratch and Win Scams New Trick”

  1. A lot of people looking for easy money nowdays.
    easy come, easy go-lah. haha

  2. Direct selling the biggest grouse for consumers

    PETALING JAYA: Direct selling tops the list of complaints lodged with the National Consumer Com-plaints Centre.

    There were 2,339 complaints in 2008, a substantial increase of 21% as compared with the 1,933 complaints in 2007.

    Consumers complained about scratch-and-win scams, credit card payments, cooling-off period (time given to consumers to reconsider the purchase), lack of information and defective products offered.

    Next on the list is housing developers with 2,316 complaints — an increase of 11.6% from 2,076 complaints in 2007.

    Consumers often complained about abandoned housing projects, shoddy workmanship, late delivery penalty, non-refundable booking fee and Mortgage Reducing Term Assu-rance.

    This is followed by telecommunications at 2,136 complaints, an in-crease of 24.1% from 1,721 in 2007.

    Consumers said service providers did not take their complaints about the frequency of the Internet service breakdown seriously.

    These figures were revealed at the launch of the National Consumer Complaints Centre 2008 annual report at a hotel here yesterday.

  3. Still scratching and not winning!

    KUALA LUMPUR: Scratch-and-win scams are still alive and thriving although a ban was announced by the government more than two years ago.

    Judging by the number of complaints lodged at the National Consumer Complaints Centre (NCCC), they seem to have not let up.

    This is despite a ban announced by the then Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal on Dec 3, 2007 after a deluge of reports about thousands losing money to scratch-and-win fraudsters.

    NCCC senior legal manager P. Vahsudevan said from January to October last year, there were 1,698 complaints lodged at the centre involving losses of more than RM8 million. In 2008, 2,339 complaints were lodged, 1,933 complaints in 2007 and 1,499 complaints in 2006.

    At the Consumer Claims Tribunal, 600 scratch-and-win cases were filed from January to November last year.

    In 2008, 1,288 cases were heard, and 1,669 in 2007.

    “Despite the ban, it is still going on. These fraudsters are constantly camped outside hypermarkets.

    “The unscrupulous companies use young school leavers to approach and dupe people into parting with their money.

    “The school leavers believe what they are doing is legal,” said Vahsudevan.

    What was worse was that the authorities appeared “very relaxed” about the issue, he added.

    “This issue is not new. Whenever reports appear in the media, the authorities will take action and everything is quiet for a while. It then crops up again.

    “There must be a solution once and for all.”

    He said the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry must push for an amendment to the law criminalising scratch-and-win scams.

    “Even though scratch-and-win contests have been banned, the law has yet to be gazetted.”

    One of the drafters of the Consumer Protection Act 1999, Datuk Dr Sothi Rachagan, said there was no ban unless an instrument of law brought it into effect.

    “By merely pronouncing a ban, the minister cannot bring it into effect,” said Sothi, of the International Association for Consumer Law.

    Sothi said, however, that scratch-and-win scams were offences under the CPA.

    “In scratch-and-win scams, the seller does not give you what he said he would.”

    Part II of the CPA, he said, provided for false, misleading and deceptive conduct in relation to representation or practice.

    “Scratch-and-win scams would be offences under Section 9 (misleading conduct) and Section 10 (false and misleading representation).”

    Sothi said what was more important was for consumers to exercise caution and good judgement.

    “A surfeit of consumer protection measures can make consumers complacent. Purchases need not be made instantly except under special circumstances. After all, what is the great hurry?” he asked.

    Fraudsters, he said, worked on human frailties.

    “There are a whole lot of allurements out there. This is what consumers have to be more cautious about. The more alluring it is, the more cautious you have to be,” he warned.

    “It is frustrating to find that despite the enactment of laws and the establishment of enforcement agencies, consumers still fall for these scams.

    “Laws are not self-enforcing. They need to be enforced. But consumers cannot expect enforcers to be omnipresent; that is the unique privilege of God,” said Sothi.

    Consumer Claims Tribunal chairman Rungit Singh said scratch-and-win contests involved pressure tactics.

    “Consumers do not understand the concept and the delivered products are usually not what was promised.”

    He advised consumers who have fallen prey to scratch-and-win scams to come to the tribunal fast.

    “The faster the claims are filed, the faster the settlement of these cases,” he said.


    IN the middle of last year, two women were cheated of RM14,000.

    One of the women, who only wanted to be identified as Madam Lee, a 51-year-old accountant, was walking at Leboh Ampang on June 23, when she was approached by a woman.

    The woman asked Lee to open an envelope and said Lee had won a Proton Perdana.

    Lee was then asked to pay RM7,000 for advertising fees before she could collect the prize.

    Lee withdrew RM3,000 and when she returned the next day, the woman had disappeared.

    In May, a 40-year-old woman, identified only as Madam Ang, was at Midvalley Megamall shopping centre when she was approached by two tricksters.

    Ang was asked to open an envelope and found that she had “won” a home theatre set. She was asked to pay RM6,000, which she withdrew and gave the two, who told her she was entitled to a second home theatre system for another RM6,000.

    Ang withdrew another RM5,000 and handed over the cash. The two then told her to wait for the products and then they disappeared.

    IN August 2008, it was reported that there was a new scratch-and-win racket that used three-dimensional cards instead of scratch cards.

    MCA Public Service and Complaints Department head Datuk Michael Chong said a 22-year-old information technology student from Jalan Klang Lama was cheated of RM3,400 through this method.

    The student, identified only as Chin, was approached by a couple while shopping at Berjaya Times Square and asked to open a three-dimensional card and was then told that he had won a car.

    The next day, he was told to go to an office at Taman Desa in Jalan Klang Lama where he was instructed to pay a processing fee of RM5,600 before he could collect the prize.

    The fee included government tax, a transportation charge and advertising costs.

    Chong added that Chin was then directed to the nearest automated teller machine where he withdrew RM3,400 which he gave to the company.

    But since he did not have another RM2,200, he was given a mattress, a vacuum cleaner and an air-purifier.

    ON Sept 16, 2008, 33-year-old cashier Chang Lin Ying lost RM900 in a scratch-and-win scam.

    Chang was at the Wangsa Maju LRT station on her way home from work when she was approached by two men and a woman, aged between 18 and 22.

    They introduced themselves as salespeople for a company in Jalan Genting Klang. They persuaded her to pick a scratch-and-win card.

    Chang picked one, and was told she had won a car, but was told that she would have to pay RM4,000 to get it.

    As she did not have cash on her, the scammers asked whether she had an ATM card. Unbelievably, Chang went to the ATM at the station and withdrew RM900.

    She then followed the three to their office. There she was given an invoice and reminded to pay the balance of RM3,100 before she could collect the car.

    Chang later realised that she might have been tricked and called one of the salesperson to recover her money.

    The man, instead, insisted that she settle the balance of the amount.

    When she failed to contact the salesman later, she went to the sales office and was shocked to see it vacant.

  4. Direct Sales Act to have more bite soon

    BERA: The Direct Sales Act will be amended to impose heavier penalties on those involved in unlicensed direct selling and scams.

    Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consu-merism Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the amendments would be tabled in Parliament for first reading on Friday.

    “With the amendments, the scope will be clearer and wider for stern action to be taken against the culprits.

    “The existing Act only covers direct-selling schemes and not the pyramid, get-rich-quick and scratch-and-win schemes or sales offers made via SMS or Facebook,” he told reporters after attending a gotong-royong event in Bandar Kemayan near here yesterday.

    Ismail Sabri said that with the amendments, individuals who cheated customers could be fined up to RM1mil and companies up to RM5mil, compared with the existing penalties of RM250,000 and RM500,000, respectively.

  5. RM50m fine for pyramid offenders

    ANY company or society found guilty of a repeated offence in promoting a pyramid scheme can be fined up to a whopping RM50mil under a new Bill by the Government to plug loopholes in the direct sales sector.

    The proposed amendment to the Direct Sales Act will also see individuals, including those working in companies or societies, fined up to RM10mil or jailed up to 10 years or both for repeated offences.

    The Bill – which will also see the Act renamed as the Direct Sales and Anti-Pyramid Act – was tabled for first reading by the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

    The minister later said the second reading of the Bill was expected during this meeting.

    The maximum fine for a first offence in promoting such schemes is RM10mil for companies and RM5mil for individuals in addition to a possible five-year jail term.

    Among others, the Bill will define a pyramid scheme to include features such as having no buy back policy or refunds, the promotion of bonuses or benefits through the recruitment of participants rather than the sales of goods or services, pressuring members to buy goods to qualify them for bonuses, and disallowing them from withdrawing from the programme.

    Such a scheme will also be defined by requiring members to buy goods or make minimum payment in order to be eligible for participation, and to force them to buy more stuff than can be re-sold within a reasonable period of time.

    The Bill aims to protect those giving information to authorities about pyramid schemes and other offences by disallowing any disclosure of their names or addresses during court trials.

    Under this clause, no witness in civil or criminal proceedings is obliged or even permitted to disclose the names or addresses of informers or the nature of their information and any documents bearing their names will be concealed from view.

  6. Pedestrians lose out to scratch-and-win ring


    JOHOR BARU: Two high-traffic pedestrian bridges in the heart of the city have been turned into the latest hunting ground for a scratch-and-win syndicate.

    As the bridges linked the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex at the Sultan Iskandar Building and bus stops, syndicate members mostly target Malaysians commuting to work in Singapore.

    It is learnt that the syndicate has been operating at the bridge across Jalan Tun Razak for months and recently expanded its operations to one across Jalan Wong Ah Fook.

    Youths in their early 20s were recruited to entice unsuspecting people into scratching a card for an attractive prize. However, the victims only end up forking out a huge sum to buy inferior goods.

    The syndicate, it is learnt, also operates at hawker centres and car parks in hypermarkets.

    MCA Youth consumer affairs bureau deputy chief Kua Song Tuck said he had been told that the syndicate had brought in large consignments of merchandise from China for their operations.

    “They would promise prizes like luxury cars, holiday packages and cash but what they have in their storerooms are inferior electrical items such as hotplate cookers, water filters and massage gadgets.

    “Usually, potential victims are lured into their office and persuaded into believing that they are among the few lucky winners of a ‘sure win’ contest,” he told the New Straits Times.

    It is learnt that workers of the syndicate based in Permas Jaya earn by commission basis.

    To safeguard themselves against victims lodging a report at the Consumer Claims Tribunal, syndicate members issued receipts with no company name or address.

    Kua said he believed the syndicate had a strong network as similar pamphlets had surfaced in the Klang Valley and Penang.

    He urged the police and relevant agencies to take immediate action against such syndicates.

  7. More clout in amended Direct Sales Act to curb get-rich-quick schemes


    KUALA LUMPUR: The Direct Sales Act is being amended with increased penalties and more stringent enforcement, in a bid to curb pyramid and get-rich-quick schemes, said Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

    Direct-selling companies are prohibited from promoting pyramid schemes, he said, adding that a new section – the prohibition of pyramid schemes – was included in the amended Bill.

    Among others, the Bill defines a pyramid scheme to include features such as having no buy-back policy or refunds, the promotion of bonuses or benefits through the recruitment of participants rather than the sales of goods or services, pressuring members to buy goods to qualify for bonuses, and disallowing them from withdrawing from the programme.

    The Bill also seeks to promote the positive growth of direct-selling activities instead of unethical ones, he said.

    Tabling the Bill for its second reading in Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday, Ismail said many direct-selling companies did not return licences revoked by the ministry.

    “Not returning the revoked licence to the ministry is also an offence now.

    “Many companies resort to selling their licence to other companies, which continue to operate on the grounds that the name has yet to be changed,” he said.

    A company is liable to a fine of RM250,000 while an individual can be fined up to RM100,000 or six month’s jail for not returning a revoked licence.

    Fines for operating a direct business company without a valid licence have also been increased from RM250,000 to RM1mil for companies, and RM100,000 or two years’ jail to RM250,000 or five years’ jail for individuials, for the first offence.

    The second offence carries a fine of RM2mil for a company and RM500,000 or 10 years’ jail for an individual.

    The Bill will also cover online transactions, he said.

  8. Fresh prey as scratch-and-win rings make a comeback in JB

    JOHOR BARU: Scratch-and-win syndicates are making a comeback in the city and many have fallen victim, swayed by promises of free cars, holidays trips and other merchandise.

    “The modus operandi is similar to that in previous years, but consumers still fall prey to the scams,” deputy consumer claims tribunal secretary Ahmad Shukri said.

    Many victims had filed cases with the tribunal. Last month alone, there were 12 reports.

    Ahmad said many other complaints could not be heard by the tribunal as the victims did not have an official receipt to show that they had paid money to the company involved.

    “Besides cases reported in the city, we also received several re-ports about syndicates operating in Batu Pahat,” he said.

    “Most of the syndicates offer at-tractive prizes but on condition that the winner of the prize pay a certain sum to claim it.”

    State Domestic Trade, Coopera­tives and Consumerism Department director Che Halim Abd Rahman said the department had received complaints from consumers about being conned by the syndicates.

    “We have sent our team to investigate the complaints, but I would also like to remind the public to be careful and not be influenced by false promises,” he said.

    He added that consumers should also refrain from providing their personal details, including their identity card numbers and bank account numbers, when approa-ched by scratch-and-win groups.

    “We would also like to urge victims to come forward,” he said.

    Checks by The Star revealed that scratch-and-win syndicates usually operate at pedestrian crossings near shopping complexes in the city centre, targeting female consumers.

    Syndicate members would appear surprised when victims “win” a prize after scratching the card given. They would then react excitedly and ask the winner to follow them to a waiting taxi, then take them to their office to collect their “prize”.

  9. Tribunal gets 2,661 consumer complaints

    JOHOR BARU: The Consumer Claims Tribunal received 2,661 complaints nationwide this year, the bulk relating to scratch-and-win scams, and faulty mobile phones and electrical appliances.

    Deputy Domestic Trade, Coope-rative and Consumerism Minister Datuk Rohani Abdul Karim said most of the cases had been solved.

    “The tribunal has been very active in looking after the plight of consumer,” she told newsmen after launching a dialogue on ethical business practices here recently.

    “But consumers must also be aware of their rights for justice to be upheld.”

    Rohani advised consumers to check any item thoroughly before purchasing it.

    “Don’t wait until a few weeks or months to complain about faulty items,” she said.

    “The tribunal is designed to look into valid cases where consumers have been wronged. It is not a platform for easy gain.”

    Rohani said that in Johor, the tribunal recorded 283 cases, including 56 involving scratch-and win-scams. Of the cases resolved, 76 resulted in consumers being awarded compensation, while 33 cases were settled mutually.

    She also advised businesses to adhere to ethical practices to enable them to compete globally.

  10. Heavier penalties expected with amendments to Direct Selling Act

    BERA: Amendments to the Direct Selling Act 1993 with heavier penalties are expected to be enforced by the end of this year, Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said.

    Ismail Sabri said under the proposed amendments, offenders could be jailed up to 10 years and liable to a maximum fine of RM5mil.

    “The Attorney-General office is studying the proposals and foreseeing no changes, will be tabled in Parliament this Oct.

    “Once it is passed by the House, we hope those who propagated in cheating via pyramid or multi-level marketing (MLM) schemes would be dealt with sternly,” he said here on Sunday.

    Late last month, police with the help of officials from the ministry detained 59 people and seized 17 luxury cars, including Mercedes-Benz and BMW, believed to be used as “bait” to lure the public to become members of a get-rich-quick scheme.

    Subsequently, a 23-year-old woman said to have amassed properties worth RM10mil from the scheme surrendered herself to the police to facilitate investigations.

    Ismail Sabri, who is also the Bera MP, said the Government viewed such matter seriously as many people had been taken in by promises of good returns.

    He said such perpetrators must not be allowed to escape scot-free as it had caused hardship and suffering to many and crippled the country’s economy.

    “Presently, those who misuse the licence given only face a meagre fine of RM250,000 for the first offence and RM500,000 for the second offence.

    “We are of the opinion that the penalties are not deterrent enough to deal with perpetrators in such schemes, which are increasing of late,” he said, adding that those involved in such schemes had amassed millions in ill-gotten gains from innocent public.

    Ismail Sabri urged those who had been cheated to come forward to lodge a report with the ministry at its toll free number, 1300-888-255, so that investigations could be initiated and prompt action taken to prevent more victims from falling prey.

  11. No end to scratch-and-win scams

    JOHOR BARU: More than 2,000 people in the state – among them housewives, businessmen and doctors – have fallen prey to scratch-and-win scams that have been escalating since 2006.

    Johor Baru MCA Youth chief Kua Song Tuck said that there seemed to be no end to the problem.

    “These companies are clearly duping victims and they are still operating,” he told a press conference here yesterday.

    Kua said that Singaporeans had been duped by such scams, where victims were told they had won winning luxury items such as cars.

    “The companies’ personnel would corner a victim near a shopping mall and give them cards, which they ‘scratch’ to discover what prize they have won.

    “These companies even publish their own magazines to further fool the victims.”

    The winners are told the prizes could only be given to them with the approval of a government officer.

    Kua cited a company based in Bandar Baru Permas Jaya that had fooled more than 50 victims in just over a month, the latest being hotel employee Teoh Suan Chu and housewife Tey Tze Wee, who were duped of RM1,000 and RM5,000, respectively, this week.

    “The two were told that they had won cars but had to first pay taxes amounting to RM12,000,” he said.

    “The victims deposited a certain sum but when they returned to the company’s office the next day, they were told that they could not win the cars.

    “Such rampant cheating cases must be stopped.”

    Johor Baru (South) OCPD Asst Comm Zainuddin said police would work closely with the Johor Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Department to act against such companies.

  12. Scratch-and-win schemes still claiming victims

    THERE should be more messages on billboards to warn the public of scratch-and-win contest scam, said Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng.

    Lim said this move would complement the constant warning given by the government as more people were falling prey to it.

    He said most of these scams were carefully carried out that even if the matter was brought to court, it was difficult to fight for justice because the victim had voluntarily consented to a bargain.

    “It is not clean fraud. A victim is being sweet-talked into a scam, so it is very difficult to go about such cases, so the public should be more cautious.

    “We can enact new laws to curb such incidents but in most cases, victims don’t even ask for an official receipt when they end up paying for something.

    “Once they realise they’ve been duped, they know it’s their own fault and just bear with it,” he said.

    Lim was speaking to reporters during a press conference to highlight the latest case involving a man who was duped into parting with RM12,000 outside a mall in Selayang recently.

    The victim, who was represented by his nephew Khairuddin Karim at the press conference, was told that he had won a Toyota Altis after scratching on a form. He was then taken to the office and was told to pay RM12,000 for insurance, road tax and storage payment.

    “So enchanted by the ‘winning’ that my uncle and his wife went back home to get the cash and gave it to the company, but he received no receipt for it.

    “It was only much later that he felt cheated because he realised that what he had won was just a mattress,” said Khairuddin.

    Khairuddin said he took his uncle to meet Lim and later lodged a police report, after which Lim took the victim to the company to enquire about the matter.

    “I asked the staff at the company and they said they will investigate the matter. Luckily, after a week, they returned the victim’s money,” said Lim

  13. Scratch and lose

    KUALA LUMPUR: Scratch-and-win scammers are making an aggressive comeback in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Johor, Malacca, Kedah and Perak.

    Syndicate members often lurk near banks and LRT stations, targeting those who withdraw their money from ATM machines and commuters at the train stations.

    Despite numerous media reports, many people continue to fall prey to the scam. The victims of the scheme include university students, housewives, civil servants, businessmen and even doctors.

    A check with the police showed that 113 reports were lodged nationwide in the first eight months of this year, involving almost RM1mil in losses.

    Between January 2006 and August 2010, there were almost 1,000 cases involving RM8.7mil.

    The number of victims is believed to be even higher.

    In Johor, the MCA complaints bureau estimates that more than 2,000 people have been cheated in the last four years.

    Starprobe found that syndicate members in the Klang Valley usually operate in groups at busy LRT stations in Bukit Jalil and Masjid Jamek.

    They would offer cards to scratch and react excitedly when their victims “win” prizes.

    Each “winner” would be asked to go to the syndicate’s office in a taxi.

    Once there, the victim would be asked to pay some cash or use their jewellery as collateral before they can claim the “gift”.

    Federal Commercial Crimes Acting Director Deputy Comm Datuk Nooryah Anvar said police, who classify such cases as cheating, have arrested several suspects in connection with the scam.

    She advised the public to be wary of strangers offering gifts with scratch-and-win cards.

    MCA public complaints department head Datuk Michael Chong, whose bureau has received 125 cases with losses amounting to RM628,000, said he suspected that a syndicate with branches nationwide was responsible for the scam.

    “The modus operandi is the same. What they change is the way they approach a victim.”

    In the past, he explained, they would go from door-to-door or rent a booth in shopping complexes. Now they are targeting people at LRT and train stations.

    “They try to convince their customers by using photographs of a man in police uniform who had allegedly won a prize.”

    Chong noted that the syndicate was very resourceful and exploited legal loopholes.

    “It is a situation where there is a willing buyer and seller. Even if the product is worthless, it is not considered cheating because the salesperson is skilful in selling it.”

  14. ‘Entire operation was well planned’

    JOHOR BARU: A woman who lost RM33,000 in a scratch-and-win scam revealed that the entire operation run by a syndicate here was elaborately planned.

    In the end, after taking her money, the syndicate members even gave her items like electrical appliances and water filters which they claimed were equivalent to the RM33,000 she gave them.

    The woman, who wanted to be identified only as Leong, said she did not suspect anything amiss when she was approached by two people at Jalan Station here.

    “All I had to do was scratch the cards given for the chance to win a car,” said Leong, who lost most of her savings after being conned.

    She said she decided to give it a try and was surprised when she “won” a car.

    Leong was then quickly whisked away in a private taxi to an office in Permas Jaya.

    “As I entered the office, a group of other ‘winners’ were loitering around, waiting to claim prizes,” she said, adding that this convinced her further of the authenticity of the competition.

    Two men waiting at the office then showed her various newspaper articles with past winners of the same competition.

    “There were winners of different races including a woman standing happily beside the new car which she had won,” she said.

    Leong said the men then told her she would have to settle the tax for her new car and then she could drive it home.

    “Once I agreed, one of the men brought me to a pawnshop nearby which had a machine to swipe my credit card,” she said, adding that because it was for a large amount, she followed the man to three other pawnshops in different locations to swipe her card.

    Three hours later, they got back to the office and the men began to change their story, saying she now needed to wait longer to get the car and even imposed more conditions before she could obtain her prize.

    “This was when I suspected that something was wrong and told them that I wanted my money back,” she said.

    At this point, the men became angry and stormed out of the room.

    Leong said she was frightened as there were three other men in the office and she was the only woman.

    “They kept saying that I had agreed to everything and that they already gone through so much of trouble because of me,” she said, adding that she was afraid that they would hurt her.

    “This was when I decided to leave but the men insisted that I take away some of the items there.

    “They filled the car I came in with water filters, wooden mats, electric heaters and other electrical appliances which they claimed was equivalent to RM33,000,” Leong said, adding that the driver then sent her home.

    The syndicate is believed to have been operating in the area for years.

  15. Scratch, scream and blush

    JOHOR BARU: The Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex here is a popular venue for groups running the scratch-and-win racket, with their staff pouncing on passers-by, tourists and workers commuting daily between the city and Singapore.

    Initially, a few members of the syndicate would hang around the area, smiling and making small talk with passers-by.

    Once they get the attention of a prospective victim, they would flash out a leaflet depicting pictures of attractive products, including cars and holiday packages, said to be contest prizes.

    After convincing the victim to scratch a card, the syndicate member would let out an excited scream and hug a fellow conspirator.

    One victim was greeted with a round of loud applause as though he had won a rare prize.

    The Starprobe team saw a syndicate member running across a pedestrian bridge while shouting and flinging his hands up in excitement when a victim had purportedly “won” a car.

    The victim, an elderly woman, was seen smiling and blushing. A man, in his 20s, then escorted the woman to a waiting taxi near the pedestrian bridge.

    Everything took place within a span of just 15 minutes and the victim was swiftly driven away to some destination.

    The Starprobe team tried to tail the taxi to the syndicate’s office but lost track of it during the journey.

  16. Tribunal orders scratch-and-win firm to return RM5,598

    KLUANG: A scratch-and-win company was ordered by the Consumer Claims Tribunal to refund RM5,598 to a rubber tapper who was misled into believing that he could win a car or a holiday trip.

    Mohd Daud Mohd Shukri (pic), 20, told the tribunal that he was approached by an employee of Starr Healthcare Sdn Bhd at the carpark of a hypermarket in Batu Pahat on July 5.

    He was asked to choose between two scratch and win tickets which could bring winnings including a car and a holiday trip.

    “The man explained to me that all I needed to do was to pay government tax of RM5,998,” he said adding that he was excited about the possibility of winning a car.

    Mohd Daud said he followed the man to an office at Taman Maju, near Batu Pahat where he paid a deposit of RM400 for the scratch and win.

    “It was disappointing to find out that I only won a stove when I went back to the office with the money the following day,” he said, adding that the man offered to sell the stove for RM12,000 in order to refund Mohd Daud.

    Fearing something was amiss, he called the man but his phone had already been turned off. He lodged a police report at the Batu Pahat police headquarters and was ad­vised to file a claim with the Consumer Claims Tribunal.

    In an unrelated case, a car service centre was ordered to refund RM808 to a plumbing consultant for failing to repair his BMW’s faulty air-conditioning.

    Sofian Fuad Md. Nor (pic), 44, said he sent his car to the workshop in Batu Pahat on June 29 after his air-conditioning stopped working.

    “The workers at the workshop tried to fix the unit by replacing unnecessary parts, and when they failed to rectify the problem, they sent my car to another workshop in Muar without my consent.

    “I am very disappointed as my car air-conditioning system and cooling system are still faulty,” he said, adding that he was shocked that the bill was RM808.

    He paid the bill but when advised by a friend that it was an exorbitant amount, he filed a claim at the Consumer Claims Tribunal.

  17. Conmen on the prowl

    THE scratch-and-win scam continues to thrive in the city.

    Groups of young men and women in their 20s can be seen approaching passers-by in many crowded areas in the Klang Valley, persuading them to try their tear-and-win coupons.

    The sealed coupons in their hands do not bring you luxury cars as they claim. In fact, many people have ended up losing thousands of ringgit for believing their sweet words.

    Their existence is not a new occurrence and despite numerous highlights in the media, people still fall for the scam.

    One can always spot them at places such as the Bukit Jalil LRT station, the pedestrian bridges linking Sungei Wang Plaza and Lot 10 shopping centre, the pedestrian bridge in front of Berjaya Times Square as well as banks and walkways with high pedestrian traffic.

    Executive Elaine Lim, 26, said she was annoyed that the scammers were taking up the walkway outside the Bukit Jalil LRT station.

    “When I ignored them, they tried to get my attention by tapping my arm with the coupons,” she said.

    Student Desmond Yee, 24, recounted a time when he was approached by them at the same station last April.

    “My girlfriend and I were on our way back to the campus in Serdang when a man handed us an envelope each, urging us to tear it open.

    “Mine contained nothing while my girlfriend’s revealed a grey dot. The man then examined the dot with a device that looked like a magnifying glass, and a number code appeared,” he recalled.

    The man told them they stood a chance to win a car, the grand prize among a long list of other products. He convinced Yee’s girlfriend to take a taxi with him back to their office in Old Klang Road to claim the prize.

    “He acted convincingly sincere and he assured us that we only needed to pay for the insurance and that he would let us see the car before we had to pay anything. He said the insurance would cost about RM10,000, and it could be paid by installments.

    “However, once my girlfriend withdrew a few hundred ringgit from a bank nearby and handed them the cash, they checked the number code again and said she only won a jade mattress,” Yee said.

    They claimed that the jade mattress cost over RM3,000 but the promotional price was only RM2,000.

    “They extolled the mattress’ benefits and gave my girlfriend a month to consider buying the item.

    “She went home and called the man later, telling him she wasn’t interested in the mattress and wanted her ‘deposit’ back. The man said he would have to check with the office first since nobody had done it before. But he ignored her calls after that and she never got her money back,” Yee said.

    He added that they wanted to lodge a police report but was chided by the police for being “stupid”.

    A StarMetro reader, who wished to be known only as Wong, recalled an unpleasant experience that took place last December. He, too, was handed an envelope that revealed a grey dot.

    “The girl went on and on about how lucky I was, and asked me to come with her in a taxi to Taman Desa to claim the prize.

    “I said I should call my friend first but her partner said I shouldn’t waste any time. When I walked off, they turned aggresive all of a sudden and shouting at me to return the paper. I panicked and threw the paper away.”

    A consultant who works nearby said she has seen the scratch-and-win people around since three years ago and she could only watch helplessly as they prey on the unsuspecting victims.

    “I was always approached by them whenever I walked on the pedestrian bridge and walkway outside Hang Tuah LRT station.

    “Once, I told them to leave me alone and they shouted foul languages at me,” she said.

  18. Former scratch-and-win employee tells how it’s done

    SEAN Tan (not his real name) thought he had been recruited by a direct sales company but it turned out that their version of “sales” was conning victims for a scratch-and-win company.

    “I was 23 years old and couldn’t find a job after I graduated. My friend who was involved in the scratch-and-win scam asked me to join him instead of idling at home,” the former scratch-and-win company employee told StarMetro.

    He was a given a lowdown on cheating as soon as he joined the company.

    “I only realised that it was a scam during the training session. They brainwashed us every day saying that this was the fastest way to make money,” he said.

    Newbies were then paired with a seniors who showed them the tricks of the trade.

    “We approached people on the pretext of conducting a survey and they are given a coupon after completing it.

    “There is a mix of coupons, you either win a prize or leave home empty handed if you get the ‘thank you’ coupon. Unbeknown to the victims, we know which coupons contain a prize and which didn’t.

    “We usually promise potential victims a chance to win a car or RM10,000 but the prize is actually electrical appliances like a microwave oven and they need to pay a deposit before the prize is revealed,” he said of the modus operandi.

    The company makes a profit as the products given out as prizes are bought at a low price from China.

    Aside from their monthly income, employees get a commission for every “sale” that they make.

    One of the tactics to motivate their employees is to praise the one who raked in the highest sales for the week in front of other employees at their weekly meeting.

    “Those who got the least sales or none weremade fun of. I ended up being laughed at most of the time as I did not have the heart to cheat people,” he said.

    The company also encouraged employees to work their way up the ladder and eventually set up their own company.

    “After working for a while, you can recruit new blood and be promoted to supervisor. You can then buy a car and continue the scam.

    “When you become a supervisor, you don’t have to do the hard work yourself and still get a cut of the profits.

    “You become a manager when you have enough supervisors working for you. You can then set up your own company but the condition is that you still need to purchase products from the parent company. The parent company will give managers a BMW 3 series,” he said.

    Those as young as 15 have been recruited to join the company.

    “All employees have to stay at a hostel. This is a way to ensure that they do not have contact with others.

    “Even when going out for a meal, they have to go in a group and be accompanied by a supervisor,” he revealed.

    He did not have to stay in the hostel because his friend was the supervisor.

    Once, he saw a victim who had to borrow money from ah long (loan sharks) to pay the deposit in order to win a prize

    “My colleague coaxed him by saying that he might win a luxury car or money but he had to pay a deposit of RM1,000.

    “He only had RM100 at hand and was given a week to come up with the money.

    “A week later, he brought the remainder of the deposit and scratched the coupon thinking that he will be winning a car or a large sum of money. It turned out that he only won a microwave oven, he was crestfallen.

    “That was the straw that broke the camel’s back, I quit soon after that,” he said.

    “When I wanted to quit, my manager tried to coax me to stay by saying that for a 23-year-old, I was doing well as I already owned a BMW and Mercedes. But I had made up my mind to call it quits,” he added.

    “They will try to coax you to stay but if you really want to quit, there is nothing they can do,” he said.

    His friend who introduced him to the scam is now a manager of a scratch-and-win company and drives a BMW.

    “He does not think that he is doing anything wrong as he feels that people willingly scratch the coupons to win the prizes.

    “I would rather earn an honest living and have a good night’s sleep than make a living from cheating people to buy luxurious cars and houses,” he said.

    His advice to those who are approached by such companies, “Even if you have opened the envelope, don’t follow them back to the office. Don’t sign anything and don’t let them copy the serial number of your money.”

    As for those who are working for such companies, his advice is simple, “Don’t make a profit from someone’s suffering.”