Friday, February 6, 2009


It was recently reported in the papers that over 50 people lost more than RM12,000 each when they invested in Mat Kiosk, a ‘one-stop’ machine that accepted payments for utilities, air fares, cinema tickets, mobile phone top-ups and other services.

Investors were promised up to RM4000 monthly in commission from the machine payments. Among the victims were retirees who were hoodwinked into thinking that this would be an easy source of passive income for them.

Last week in Japan, police arrested Kazutsugi Nami, 75, for allegedly swindling 37,000 investors, mostly elderly people, of a total of US$1.4 billion.

This begs the question – why are retirees such easy targets for con men (and women)? What makes the elderly so vulnerable that they would readily fall for sob stories and too-good-to-be-true get-rich scams? Is it because they are too trusting, or is it avarice that has clouded their better judgment? Some of these scams have been around for a while, yet there is no shortage of victims.

When I think of all the products that my 82-year old mother has bought from slick-talking sales people who call on her, I think of money going down the drain. Over the years, she has probably spent thousands of ringgit on anti-ageing creams, wonder tonics, sleep-guaranteed pillows and mattresses, and health bracelets. None of them have produced the promised results.

There are cases of lonely older women falling under the charm of Romeos who sweet-talk them into giving away their savings, and of sugar daddies who squander away fortunes on their honey pies young enough to be their daughters or granddaughters.

Cybercrime is also on the rise in Malaysia – by 619% over the past year alone. Of late I’ve been receiving emails carrying tales of woe from hapless strangers begging for financial assistance, emails that congratulate me on winning a million dollars in a contest that I’ve never heard of, and emails informing me that I’ve inherited a fortune from a distant relative. All these unsolicited emails have one thing in common - to get me to part with my money.

Beware too of phishing. When you receive emails from your bank asking you to divulge your personal identification number (PIN) and passwords in order to ‘update’ your account to serve you better, chances are the emails are fraudulent. Never ever disclose your personal details to anyone who ask for them without first checking their bona fide status.

The current economic downturn affects almost everyone. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Whether driven by greed or need, there are people desperate and creative enough to come up with all kinds of scams to con naive folks into parting with their money. And there are always gullible folks who are eager to plonk their hard-earned money into get-rich schemes in the hope of becoming instant millionaires.

So be on the alert. Be wary of dubious, even ingenious schemes that sound too good to be true. Think twice, a dozen times if need be, before you part with your hard-saved money.

Click here for the top five types of scams and how to dodge them. Thousands in Malaysia have fallen prey to scams like these. Don't be the next victim.


Starmandala said...

Just checked your blog and all images are downloading normally. Will resend you the blogbanner & kissing jpegs for your folder! xox

John J. C. Lew said...

Dear Lily,

Visited your blog too and it's great work for the society to understand different changes and needs of seniors.

Seniors go through many changes and it's crucial to recognize and identify them. Changes in social role, professional status, physical aging, emotional conflicts from inside or outside, relationships with the younger generations and others all contribute to the quality of life of seniors.

Your blog for sure provides essential info for seniors to live a better life.


John Lew said...

Nice post. I responded to your question in my own blog post: