PETALING JAYA: Despite knowing it would be an arduous task to track down scammers let alone get the money back from them, Shahrul Ashraf Sallehuddin, 38, never gave up as he wanted to teach them a lesson.
His determination paid off as he not only tracked down the scammer, but also got him to return the money paid by Shahrul and nine other victims.
The scammer had used Facebook to sell used air conditioners at a cheap price.
This attracted the attention of Shahrul, a father of five, who then contacted the seller on May 25.
“The advertisement stated that a used Sharp air conditioner was available for RM720. This seemed to be a reasonable price, so I paid RM570 in advance,” he told FMT.
“The advance payment was made to the account of the seller’s company. So I did not feel suspicious then. I also got a receipt from the company.”
However, Shahrul was unable to contact the seller after that. He filed a police report, but the authorities could not track down the scammer.
“They told me it would be hard to get back my money.”
But the freelance graphic designer did not give up.
Instead, he began to track down the owner of the company through the Companies Commission of Malaysia’s website. He also got the name, address and identity card number of the owner.
“I managed to get his mobile number and threatened to get his account frozen by making a police report.”
Shahrul went a step further by leaving a comment on the Facebook page that said: “Scammer alert: Whoever wants this scammer, contact me.”
This grabbed the attention of nine other victims of the scam.
After much pressure from all, a man contacted Shahrul and told him he was the owner of the bank account, claiming it was misused by an unknown party.
“He said he would return all our money because he was afraid that his five other bank accounts would also be affected.
“He also tried to convince us that he too was a victim. We did not believe him, but we played along since we only wanted our money back.
“He claimed that he too had lost RM16,000 in the scam, but within two days, he had paid us back RM8,580.”
Shahrul was glad he and the other victims had received their money. He hoped more proactive steps could be undertaken by the authorities to curb this kind of crime.
“By right, bank accounts should be frozen once police receive more than three reports.
“If suspicious bank accounts are not closed down immediately, scammers will continue to look for more victims,” he added.