PETALING JAYA: A senior police officer has objected to an insinuation that it is the police’s responsibility to help scam victims recover their money.
The law does not empower policemen to do so, he told FMT in a comment on news that graphic designer Shahrul Ashraf Sallehuddin had tracked down a scammer and made him return money belonging to him and nine other victims.
Shahrul said he went after the scammer after the authorities had told him they could not track him down and that it would be “hard to get back my money”.
The officer, who heads a district commercial crime investigation department but who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “The police’s duty is to arrest, investigate and charge the suspects after receiving instruction from the deputy public prosecutor. The police cannot take action on their own.
“I understand that victims want their stolen money back. If I were a victim, I would want my money back, too. But we have to follow the law.”
He complained that the police were often blamed when victims could not recover their money.
He also said the public was often confused between account mules and scammers.
“Those who cheat are not necessarily scammers,” he said. “They could be just account mules. They let other people use their accounts and this is clearly against the law.
“Scammers are not so stupid as to use their own bank accounts. That means when one perpetrator is arrested, it is likely that the scammer is still at large.”
Muslim consumer group (PPIM) activist Nadzim Johan said police should improve the way they dealt with scams.
“There’s a need for a change in the attitude of some investigating officers when dealing with such cases,” he said. “They have to show that they are concerned and go all out to investigate.”
He told FMT that PPIM had helped dozens of victims who had reached a dead end after seeking help from the authorities.
“This shows that the cases can be solved,” he said.