Pen-pal fakes kidnap, family ends up paying RM2,300

Tue, Jan 13, 2009
The Star

KUALA LUMPUR – Taking a bus ride together with a pen-pal barely two weeks after getting acquainted turned out to be a nightmare for 21-year-old student Chow Weng Fatt’s family.

Chow, his family members and a friend were tricked into parting with RM2,300 ($959.56) and a handphone after the male pen-pal led them to believe that Chow had been kidnapped.

On Christmas day, Chow was contacted by a youth known as Charles after getting the former’s number from a Chinese magazine pen-pal column.

They clicked right away because Charles was “decent and courteous”, and Chow later invited him to his house on New Year’s Eve, where the con man even impressed his mother by offering to do the household chores and to cook.

Chow and Charles went to Johor Baru for a holiday on Jan 5, but did not tell anyone about it as Charles had claimed that he was being sought by a loan shark and did not want people to know of his whereabouts, Chow told a press conference at the MCA Public Services and Complaints Department here yesterday.

Charles borrowed Chow’s handphone before they took a 1am bus ride to Johor Baru.

“Charles claimed that he wanted to message a friend but instead sent an SMS to my sister Pek Yee (aged 18), saying that I was in trouble with the loan shark who purportedly demanded a RM6,000 ransom,” said Chow.

Chow’s mother, Ng Soon Ai, 52, who was alerted, made a report at the Pandan Indah police station but later decided to pay RM2,000 after the suspect threatened to chop off her son’s hand.

Charles also sent a similar SMS to one of Chow’s close friends, asking for RM300. Chow went on to Johor Baru knowing nothing about all these.

While Chow and Charles were watching a movie in Johor Baru, Charles went out for a smoke and never came back, taking Chow’s handphone and the RM2,000 which was deposited into his account by his mother. He also took Chow’s ATM card.

He only became aware about the “kidnap drama” after he arrived home – when his mother told him about what had happened.