EIGHT-MONTH PROBE: Suspects, aged between 25 and 30, are Nigerians holding student passes
KUALA LUMPUR: Smitten by a "United States army general" she had met online, a female auditor parted with almost RM5 million in fraudulent investments on the behest of her new-found love.
The 63-year-old widow sold her RM3.5 million bungalow in Damansara Heights and borrowed the rest from relatives, friends and partners from her audit firm, only to learn later that she had fallen victim to a group of Nigerians in yet another one of their scams.
The woman's 30-year-old son, suspecting that his mother was being cheated, lodged a police report in September last year, when she had asked him and his other siblings to fork out RM200,000 each as investments.
He later learnt through a relative that his mother had also transferred RM300,000 to a stranger's bank account.
After an investigation which stretched up to eight months, police nabbed 15 Nigerians, between the ages of 25 and 30, and a local woman in four separate raids in Subang Jaya and Damansara earlier this week.
City Commercial Crime Investigation Department chief Assistant Commissioner Izany Abdul Ghany said the Nigerians were all holding student passes.
Police seized 14 laptops, 20 mobile phones, 11 savings account books, ATM and credit cards of several banks, a cheque book, SIM cards, pen drives and modems.
"The woman was recruited by the syndicate to open bank accounts where the money from their scams were credited.
"She had also registered companies with the Companies Commission of Malaysia to legitimise her bank transactions."
Izany said police were also looking for another local woman who had also opened bank accounts for the syndicate.
He said police are now getting more information from the colleges where the suspects were registered.
"We are also checking with the Immigration Department on the suspects' travel status," he said at a joint press conference with Cheras police chief Assistant Commissioner Mohan Singh Tara Singh at the district headquarters yesterday.
They advised the public to be wary of online friends and not be easily fooled by their "perfect" appearance and personality.
It was learnt that the Nigerian who chatted up the victim used the photograph of a Caucasian male, dressed in full army uniform, as his profile picture.
Last October, a 58-year-old artist received a call from an "army general in Ghana" who claimed to have arrested a thief and recovered a bag of money with the artist's name and contact number.
The artist then transferred RM10,500 into a local bank account for transportation and miscellaneous charges to retrieve his "bag of cash" but then realised he had been duped when nobody came to the meeting point in Puchong where he was to collect the bag.
In follow-up operations, police and the Immigration department raided an apartment in Kepong and nabbed five African men between the ages of 20 and 30.