A Malaysian woman named Sruti, was targeted by an impostor claiming to represent the Income Tax Department (LDHN) in a recent phone call. The caller, seeking verification, coerced Sruti into providing her IC number. Although Sruti confirmed her identity, she promptly informed the caller that her address had changed since the issuance of her identification card a decade ago.
To Sruti's astonishment, the caller alleged that she had an outstanding income tax balance of RM12,375 with LDHN. This claim caught Sruti off guard, as she had already settled her taxes and had no knowledge of any remaining dues. The fraudulent caller insisted that Sruti attend a court hearing to address the purported unpaid tax. According to their records, the outstanding amount had accumulated over an extended period, with the court hearing scheduled for May 24, 2023. The caller warned that failure to settle the matter in court would result in direct deductions from Sruti's bank account.
Baffled by the situation, Sruti questioned the lack of prior communication regarding this matter, such as emails, calls, or letters sent to her current address. The caller responded by explaining that multiple letters had been sent to her previous address, but they had been unable to reach her since she had moved.
Concerned about potential financial losses and feeling the urgency of the situation, Sruti decided to contact the provided number and seek assistance. She spoke with Mr. Shah at Makhamah Pulau Pinang, who advised her to file a police report. Mr. Shah connected Sruti to Inspector Hadri, a high-ranking officer at the police station, to discuss her belief that her identity had been compromised.
Inspector Hadri, to establish his authenticity, instructed Sruti to cross-check the phone number displayed on her caller ID with the Penang Police Headquarters number listed on Google. Upon confirming the match, Sruti gained confidence in the legitimacy of the conversation, believing she was speaking to a genuine police officer.
Relaying her predicament to Inspector Hadri, Sruti received attentive listening and expressions of belief in her innocence. The inspector assured her that he would check her IC in their database to determine if it had been connected to any other criminal activities. Anxious, Sruti anxiously awaited the outcome of the inspector's investigation.
Following the check, Inspector Hadri delivered shocking news to Sruti. Case files had been found, linking her name to incidents of money laundering, petty theft, and fraudulent overseas transfers. Sruti was devastated and puzzled as to how her IC details could have been compromised.
Inspector Hadri emphasized the gravity of the situation and requested Sruti's undivided attention. He advised her to find a private space where she could speak without interruptions. As the inspector questioned her involvement in illegal activities, Sruti vehemently denied any wrongdoing while expressing her fear and confusion. Despite her denials, Sruti felt intimidated and on the verge of tears due to the intense nature of Inspector Hadri's interrogation.
Sensing Sruti's distress, Inspector Hadri proposed a potential solution. He offered to transfer her to his superior to negotiate a plea deal. Left with limited options and feeling trapped, Sruti reluctantly agreed to proceed.
Once connected to Inspector Hadri's superior, Sruti faced initial skepticism from the person on the other end of the line. She was repeatedly asked to explain her situation. The superior informed Sruti that the call would be recorded, and a form would be retrieved to assist her. Sruti was instructed to regularly repeat her name during the call to avoid any gaps or silence in the recording.
When the superior returned, he requested detailed personal information from Sruti, including her occupation, the number of siblings she had, her parents' occupations, her assets, and the approximate balance in her bank account. Reluctantly, Sruti provided the requested information.
Reassuring Sruti, the superior claimed that he would attempt to help her. He mentioned including a "record" in his report that would exempt her from the money laundering investigation. Emphasizing the importance of confidentiality, he warned Sruti not to disclose the situation to her family or friends, as everything said during the recording would be utilized in the ongoing investigation.
At this point, the superior directed Sruti to open a link on her phone browser, claiming it was the final step in the process. However, Sruti's suspicions were aroused, and she grew hesitant about downloading anything onto her phone. Consequently, she decided to terminate the call.
Sruti wasted no time in reporting the incident to the Penang Contingent Police Headquarters. Authorities confirmed that they had received numerous similar reports, indicating the prevalence of this fraudulent scheme targeting unsuspecting victims.
This incident serves as a stark reminder for the public to remain vigilant and exercise caution when receiving unexpected calls involving financial matters. Verifying the authenticity of the caller and promptly reporting any suspicious activity to the relevant authorities are crucial steps in preventing such scams.
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