A married couple in Malaysia has been arrested for running a luxury hotel booking scam ripping off COVID-19 frontline workers.
The unemployed couple was arrested during a raid at a homestay in the district of Ampang in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur on 24th September.
Sungai Buloh district police chief Supt Shafa’aton Abu Bakar said the husband and wife, aged 26 and 27, are accused of scamming frontline COVID-19 workers by offering them discounted holiday packages as a sign of appreciation for battling the pandemic.
According to the police spokesperson, officers received over 30 reports from victims claiming to have lost a total of 26,193 MYR (4,900 GBP) as a result of falling for the scam.
Abu Bakar said: “Investigations found that the suspects have been active since last September using the company name I&I Paradise Venture where most of the victims are frontliners.”
The newspaper Berita Harian said that the couple scammed a total of 514 people since last year.
According to Harian Metro, the couple’s ‘Hari Kebangsaan’ package in August this year led to over 40 complaints from people falling victim to the scam.
On 13th September, a hospital nurse reported the couple to the police with the same complaint.
Abu Bakar said the nurse learned about the hotel deals through an advert in a WhatsApp group and was interested in a stay at a famous hotel in Port Dickson.
The police said: “The victim then contacted the suspects’ company and was offered to become an agent with a commission of 10 percent by distributing package advertisements to her colleagues.”
The nurse managed to convince other workmates and she made a booking for 26 hotel guests with a payment of 7,000 MYR (1,309 GBP) to the bogus company.
The victim was even issued with receipts for an open booking at the hotel for anytime.
She realised she had been conned when she called the hotel to confirm the bookings were made.
Other victims realised they had been conned after arriving at the hotel and trying to check-in with false booking details.
The couple is currently being held in police custody as the investigation continues.
Abu Bakar said: “We have also confiscated four phones and two laptops to aid in the investigation.”
The police added that the suspects never applied to register their travel agency, and the company was never authorised to promote the hotels included in the alleged scam.
The investigation continues.
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