PETALING JAYA,. Welfare aid, such as 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M), is on offer to even those who do not qualify to receive such assistance. But like many things that are too good to be true, these are just scams.
Conmen are setting elaborate traps, misusing the names of government aid programmes such as BR1M and various Welfare Department financial aids to cheat victims.
They also dupe people into believing that they are acting on behalf of the Government, welfare organisations or even rich and benevolent “Datuks” and “Tan Sris”.
Many of their targets are people who would actually be eligible for this aid, such as the elderly or disabled, if they apply through the right channels.
Two months ago, an elderly widow in Kuala Lumpur lost RM3,000 worth of jewellery to two tricksters who promised her welfare aid to buy groceries.
M. Maruthampal, 71, was at a private hospital for a doctor’s appointment when she was approached by a woman and a man claiming to be mother and son.
The “mother”, who appeared to be in her 40s, told Maruthampal that a kind-hearted Datuk wanted to help the poor and was willing to sponsor a month’s worth of groceries.
Excited at the prospect of free groceries, the diabetic mother of nine abandoned her doctor’s appointment to follow the duo to a supermarket in Sungai Besi.
“She was told to go in first and choose her groceries, and that the Datuk would meet her at the checkout counter with the cash,” Maruthampal’s son M. Malar Dasan said.
“However, before she entered the supermarket, the ‘son’ told my mother to remove her gold necklace, bangles and earrings so the Datuk would be convinced that she deserved the aid.”
Dasan said Maruthampal then put her valuables in a small bag and left it at the bag counter in exchange for a claim ticket, which the man immediately took from her.
“As she went in, they told her they would follow right behind but my mother realised five minutes later that they were missing.
“She rushed to the counter but the attendant said the duo had already claimed her handbag,” said Dasan.
In June last year, elderly couple Maria and Robert (not their real names) were doing their weekly shopping at a morning market in Puchong when they were approached by two men.
“They showed us name tags and claimed they were from the state Welfare Department, helping people to check whether they were entitled to welfare aid,” Maria said.
“They were very friendly. They asked questions like whether or not we had financial support and if we were living on our own, and jotted down our answers.”
After the questions, the men spoke among themselves and then told the couple that they were indeed eligible to receive RM10,000 aid from the local welfare office.
However, both husband and wife were told that in order to receive the money, they had to open a bank account first.
“They said we had to deposit at least RM1,000 to activate the account, and the Welfare Department would then pay us the full amount. My husband asked them why we had to deposit so much, but they said it was just a formality and that the money would be returned to us,” said Maria.
Neither Maria nor Robert had that much money on them at the time, but the scammers said they could take the couple to the nearest bank to withdraw the cash.
Fearing that the men might harm them, the couple reluctantly agreed to follow the scammers.
“Luckily for us, my husband managed to call our son on the way to the bank.
“My son and his friends happened to be at a cafe along the same row, so they reached the bank before we did,” said Maria.
The couple’s son and their friends surrounded the scammers, who stayed in the car while Maria and Robert got out.
After being bombarded with some terse questions, the scammers sped off, leaving the couple shaken after their lucky escape.