By EDDIE CHUA
PETALING JAYA: Internet scam artistes have upped the ante to the ultimate level – they are now “phishing” for money in the name of God.
The latest trick appears to be a combination of the good ol’ Nigerian, or the 4-1-9 scam (named after the section in the Nigerian penal code which covers such frauds), and the charity scam. With the recent blaze of publicity concerning the book and movie, The Da Vinci Code which involves secretive sects, the new scam claims to be linked to a Catholic sect.
The e-mail is supposedly from a Rev Father Vincent Mark who claims to represent the Vatican City Priesthood of the Roman Catholic church.
The scam artiste claims that he is looking for a “godly fellow” to assist him in helping the “poor and needy, especially the motherless babies”.
He adds: “It pains me to discover that many people are suffering and dying of hunger and starvation.”
He says he has decided to help these poor folk with US$8mil (RM29.4mil) from the sect (the scam artiste happens to be the financial controller, too) and he needs a “God servant and God-fearing figure” to help him siphon the money out for “humanitarian” purposes. The e-mail is signed off with a Chicago, United States, address.
He also wants the recipient’s full name, address, telephone and fax numbers, occupation and religion to enable him to forward more information on how to obtain the money.
Once you reply, the scamming process will begin and like all Internet frauds, you will end up losing money because there will be a need to pay special “processing fees” or “commissions” before you get the “cash”.
You may think that by now, Internet surfers would be smart enough not to be fooled by such scams, but according to MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Michael Chong, a woman recently called up and told him she lost RM10,000 to a similar in-the-name-of-God Net scam .
Chong said they received calls from several people concerning this latest scam.
“Some called the department to verify the authenticity of the e-mail while others, who had been the victims of the scam, sought help to recover the money purportedly paid to obtain the fund.
“The wife of a businessman lost some RM10,000 last month.
“She told us she had paid the money as part of the administrative payment to retrieve the fund worth several million dollars stashed in an overseas bank. However, after paying the money, she found out that there was no such fund.”
Chong warned the public not to be duped. “Many people fall for it because they are greedy and gullible.”
Meanwhile, a National ICT Security and Emergency Response Centre official said the Nigerian e-mail scam had evolved over the years.
“Every now and then the storyline changes but the bottom line is to entice by offering a lucrative percentage to those who help them transfer the 'funds' from foreign banks.”
The official said many gullible Malaysians had been duped into believing that they would get rich quick.
He said despite repeated warnings, many were still being cheated.
“This is all because of greed. There is no such thing as free money,” he added.