"Crime @ mudah.my. Malay Mail Thursday, March 31st, 2011 Local Online scam www.mudah.my . EASY ACCESS: The popular online portal. KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s top online shopping portal www.mudah.my is being used by real estate scammers and a car theft ring selling off stolen spare parts — pocketing more than RM700,000 to date.
The rash of cases has left police concerned and they have not discounted the possibility of more victims. Police are hoping to meet with the portal operators to curb the criminal activities. The Malay Mail probe showed at least eight people had been duped by a man, posing as a real estate agent, who has successfully fleeced the victims of RM500,000 by using the portal to lure potential buyers into parting with their cash.
The suspect would solicit a 10 per cent down payment from his victim before disappearing with the loot. His activities have drawn concern from the real estate fraternity who cautioned the public against buying propertiesonline.
In the wake of the revelation, police yesterday also disclosed a car theft syndicate had used the portal to dispose of stolen parts to unsuspecting buyers. One of the gang’s key members is a 16-year-old school dropout, described as a “computer geek”, entrusted with the sale and purchase of the stolen items via the portal. He took the role as the ring’s IT personnel whose job was to upload images of the spare parts taken from stolen cars in www.mudah.my.
The other syndicate members comprise a mechanic specialising in dismantling stolen cars for parts, a 23-year-old woman used a ‘shield’ to allay suspicion and three men, aged 18 to 25, who accompanied the woman.
Serdang district police chief Supt Abd Razak Elias said the activities came to light when they swung into action following a stolen car report and arrested one of the suspects who then revealed his accomplices’ identiies. The other suspects were detained in several locations in Serdang last week. “The six are believed to be involved in over 10 cases of stolen cars.
We have seized four cars, two car engines and other car spare parts in Serdang, Shah Alam and Johor Baru. We have yet to determine how many casesthis syndicate is involved in.” Abd Razak said the syndicate had used the woman and teenager to allay suspicion on their activities, adding it was thorough in its planning and execution.
“They would follow car owners and wait for the right moment before stealing their cars. They would also target cars without proper alarm systems or old vehicles. “After stealing the car, they used fake number plates and would dismantle the cars in residential areas, making it appear as though they were repairing the vehicles. After dismantling the parts, they would just abandon the cars.”
The suspects are under the Serdang police custody, and would be handed over to Shah Alam and Johor Baru after investigations. At Press time, efforts to contact officials of www.mudah.my were futile.
Property con man caught
KUALA LUMPUR: Simple and uncomplicated. That was how police described the method used by an online con man to dupe property hunters over the past year. Gombak district deputy police chief Supt Rosly Hassan said the 35-year-old suspect, who had raked in more than RM500,000, lured his victims by posing as a property agent through the www.mudah.my online shopping portal.
Police believed he would scout for potential properties around the Klang Valley and placed a number of "House for Sale" advertisements on the portal to sell these properties he did not actually represent. "Whenever a potential property renter or buyer contacted him, the suspect would turn up smartly attired and all his victims thought he was a genuine real estate agent," said Rosly, adding he used fake documentation and a skillfully orchestrated process to convince his victims.
After closing the deal, the suspect would then persuade his "buyers" to pay a 10 per cent down-payment, after which he would disappear. The suspect, from Setapak, was arrested at 5pm on Monday by Gombak police's commercial crime investigation officers in a special operation in Jalan Putra, Chow Kit. Police believe he is behind eight cheating cases in Gombak alone.
Rosly said investigators were not ruling out the possibility he had accomplices. The suspect has been remanded at the Gombak district police headquarters until tomorrow. Serdang district police chief Supt Abd Razak Elias said efforts were underway for police to meet the operators of www.mudah.my to discuss how fraud can be prevented.
"We are not blaming the web portal operators as they would not know if the goods are stolen. Maybe, we could get them to show the profile of the sellers on the website and the seller's particulars recorded if needed by the authorities."
Beware of online scams, says MIEA
KUALA LUMPUR: If a property deal is too good to be true, it probably is. That was the opinion of Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA) president Julie Wong when commenting on police nabbing an online property con man who had cheated eight people of RM500,000 over the past year.
"The public should be cautious of con men posing as property agents, especially online transactions via business-to-consumer (B2C) websites. "However, we have yet to receive any reports of fraud by genuine real estate agents." Wong said MIEA can only take action against agents registered with them, whether online or not. "If there is a complaint against any of our members, the matter will be reverted to our board for immediate action," she said.
"Any member found guilty could face jail of up to 10 years and fined up to RM500,000 under the Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Act 1981." There are 2,900 real estate agents nationwide, but only 400 are registered with MIEA.