Malaysia 'scratch and win' scammers nabbed after targeting policeman at Kajang supermart

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Luck couldn't have been any more rotten for a group of "scratch and win" scammers outside a hypermarket in Kajang when they tried selling their coupons to a man who turned out to be the district's deputy police chief.

Superintendent Abdul Ghani Mohamad Ji said he had gone to the mall, plainclothed, at about 11.15am on Wednesday to buy chicken rice when he was approached by a man asking him if he would like to buy a scratch-and-win card.

The policeman said he had encountered these scammers before, but what irked him this time around was how brazen they had become.

"There were 10 of them at the front entrance ambushing customers to buy into their scam. They pestered me. I kept telling them I was not interested," he told The Star.

While he was buying his lunch, Supt Abdul Ghani called the Commercial Crime Investigation Department at his headquarters, asking officers to dispatch men for an "ambush of their own".

He waited for his men to drive into the mall compound before walking out to the entrance where the scammers were.

"They approached me again. This time I had some fun. I acted like I was interested, took their vouchers and looked at them. Then I told them that I was a police officer.

"They didn't say anything after that. The group just ran helter skelter!" he said.

Thirteen officers got out of their vehicles and chased after the fleeing scammers, who ran onto the road and into the shopping mall. Supt Abdul Ghani himself managed to take down three men.

"We arrested eight men at the mall and another two later in Semenyih. We have received many reports of these people selling scratch-and-win cards here. They may all be working for the same syndicate," he said.

The case is being investigated under Section 420 of the Penal Code for cheating.

About RM5.2 million (S$2 million) has been lost to "scratch and win" scammers last year, with 230 cases reported from January to October 2014.

Klang Valley residents, according to statistics from the Bukit Aman commercial crime investigation department, were the most gullible to these scams, making up 60 per cent of the cases reported last year.