Be wary of who you hand your money to.
A 22-year-old woman was nabbed by police who suspected her of using social media to cheat people of up to RM 200,000. She baited customers by posing as a “travel agent” offering affordable travel packages.
The woman, known only as Alia, was remanded by police for 3 days from 23rd May, and then again on 26th May. She was detained by the Manjung Commercial Crime Investigation Division over a failed travel package to Pulau Perhentian, said Kajang Police chief ACP Othman Nanyan.
An account on popular social networking site Instagram named “mytravel.coo” was believed to be owned by the woman, who advertised various attractive domestic and overseas travel packages there. The account was closed following the woman’s arrest.
Some of the more tempting packages promoted to followers were the 3-day-2-night stay to Pulau Redang and Pulau Perhentian, for RM200 and RM250 per person respectively. Followers of “mytravel.coo” who wanted to travel overseas were also persuaded by trips to Japan and South Korea, which only cost RM1,300 per person for a 5-day-4-night stay.
Apart from the aforementioned places, Alia also pushed cheap travel packages to Pulau Tioman, the Maldives, and Australia. Return air tickets, accommodation, transport, entrance tickets, and meals were supposedly promised for every trip.
Several victims have since stepped up to relate their stories.
Hanie, one of the victims who was a freelance travel agent, said that she and 8 of her customers lost about RM 22,500 after booking a trip to Japan that never materialised.
The group was supposed to leave for Japan on 29th April, but it was rescheduled to 1st May. “After arriving at KLIA at 4am on the day in question, we found that our names were not on the passenger list,” Hanie told Bernama.
She then contacted the woman via WhatsApp, but was informed that her mother had passed away and she had to attend to some funeral arrangements, and thus, wouldn’t be able to make the trip to the airport. Alia did promise to refund their payment but 3 days later, the money still remains unseen.
Some of the victims went to the house of the woman in Sungai Buloh to get their refund back, only to find that Alia’s parents were both alive and well.
“The cost included the travel package of RM 1,300 per person and my flight ticket from Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur,” explained Hanie, who then lodged a police report at the Kuantan Police Headquarters in Pahang on 20th May.
Nur Rosamimie Farisa Mohd Raslan, 30, was also a victim to the scam. She lost almost RM 3,000 after she and 11 family members and employees paid for a 3-day-2-night trip to Pulau Redang.
The package cost RM 250 per person. I realised that we had been cheated on 19th May, a day before the scheduled departure, after receiving an Instagram message from someone. Not wanting to disappoint my family members and employees, I contacted another travel agent and bought another package to Pulau Redang.
A police report was lodged at the Kota Baharu Police headquarters on 23rd May.
Some victims have since created the Instagram account “mytravel.coo_penipu” to alert travellers about the scam. The account is currently active with 14,400 followers and 68 posts, but it is set as private.
The “travel agent” has also been listed in one of Malaysia’s scammer alert website, tipu.my.
Sources: Bernama via The Sun Daily, The Petite Wanderlust.
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