Police warn of ‘GST’ phone scam

43 cases have been reported in Penang where victims are frightened into thinking they are being investigated for unpaid GST and made to deposit money into an account.

AFP pic.

GEORGE TOWN: A group of confidence tricksters acting as customs officers has made away with tens of thousands of ringgit in Penang by telling victims they owe goods and services tax (GST) for items they had never bought.

Southwest district police chief Supt A Anbalagan said the gang would call up people claiming that they owed money from unpaid GST for mobile phones and “contraband” baby formula.

He said when a victim refused to pay the “customs officer”, the call would be forwarded to a “police officer” who would frighten the victim, accusing him of a serious crime like one related to drugs, and threaten him with quarantine.

“The ‘police officer’ would then ask victims to bank in money to an account to avoid a freeze or forfeiture of their savings accounts,” Anbalagan said.

“They would then assure the victims that their money would be returned after the investigation is concluded,” he said in a WhatsApp message to the press today.

He said a total of 43 cases were reported in Penang alone from Jan 1 until May 27 this year, with the majority of them in the Southwest district on the island.

He said 23 cases, which saw RM51,300 being lost to the tricksters, were recorded in the district.

Anbalagan said seven cases had been opened in the state in relation to the scam and were being investigated for cheating.

He said the syndicate would also threaten those who refused to cough up the sum, warning that there would be “effects”.

He said the tricksters would also ask the victims to keep their conversations private to avoid jeopardising the “investigation”.

“We would like to advise all not to reveal your banking details to anyone through the phone or any other means,” Anbalagan said.

“If you need to liaise with the bank, do so by presenting yourself at the counter.

“If you receive such calls, please do not entertain them but immediately alert the police.”

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