JOHOR BAHRU: The criminal activities of a group using the WeChat app to find victims for ransom money were crippled when five suspects were detained here two days ago.
Iskandar Puteri district police chief ACP Noor Hashim Mohamad said the arrests of the suspects, comprising a woman and four men, aged 24 to 31, took place on Monday evening at several areas in Gelang Patah.
The arrests followed a police report lodged by a 35-year-old Indian national engineer, who said he received a call from an unknown individual who tried to blackmail him into paying a ransom to free his friend, who had earlier gone to meet a local woman whom he had just met via WeChat.
“The victim was a 31-year-old Indian national who had been working in a factory making oil and gas products in Nusa Cemerlang, Gelang Patah, for about four years.
“He met the local woman through WeChat on July 1, and two days later, he told his friend (the complainant) that he wanted to take sick leave and go meet the woman,” Noor Hashim said in a statement here today.
“However, on July 3 at about 11.30am, when the victim’s friend returned from the Gelang Patah Health Clinic, he received a telephone call from an unknown individual who tried to extort money from him to release the victim.
“He immediately lodged a police report before all the suspects were arrested.”
All five suspects tested negative for drugs. They were also found to have no criminal records. Two of them worked as security guards, one was a canopy fixer and two were unemployed.
Noor Hashim said their modus operandi was that the woman suspect would use the picture of another person in the WeChat app and get acquainted with prospective victims before taking them hostage and demanding money from their friends.
The suspects were remanded for four days from July 4 to Friday for further investigations.