Friday, March 19, 2010

Scams. Been there, done that!

On my first modeling trip to KL, I remember the door bell ringing and seeing these really sweet, innocent looking girls standing on my doorstep. They said they were doing some scratch and win contest and were so enthusiastic about it, I found myself being lulled along. They told me to simply choose an envelope and scratch off the silver so I figured why not? Turns out, I won something for my kitchen, on the spot and one of the girls went downstairs to get it. Everything seemed in order. It was in a box, all brand new. I was really surprised. Looking back, this is such a good strategy because everyone is in a good mood and it seemed so easy. What made it doubly harder for me to mistrust them is that they seemed like really nice girls.They were probably students working for this company part time because they looked no more than 20. They let me in to a little secret (which made me think they're on my side). They said almost all the prizes were already won because they were already at the end of their contest period but no one had won the grand prize yet which was a car. They had a photo of their prizes in a professional looking folder, the works. Turns out, they had only 2 envelopes left and one of them had the car as a prize in it. The chances of winning were 50/50 but it was a CAR, not a frying pan, know what I mean?

They said to be eligible for the contest, one had to spend a minumum of RM1, 200 or something like that to enter it. They had a folder of tonnes of household and electrical items to choose from. I had just moved to Malaysia (this was ages ago) and I didn't even have a microwave oven so I decided to buy one for the house and a simple water filter. After that, I scratched the metal boxes but this time, I won nothing. I later found out they tell everyone the same thing so the last 2 envelopes were probably identical so that no one would ever win. The only saving grace was the microwave oven did come in handy but was probably sold to me at an inflated price since it was a brand I've never heard of. 

What made me think of this, is just today, I got a call from what I thought was Air Asia saying I had won a holiday for 4 pax and to please come and collect it. The only catch being that they wanted to have 20 mins of your time showing you how to use the website for bookings and to educate consumers on what panel of hotels they are associated with in different countries. Seemed fair enough for a free holiday but I thought it might be a scam so I decided not to go. Last moment, I had an hour to spare so I went down there with my business partner who was convinced it was all bullsh*t. We decided to go anyway. Curiosity killed the cat, sort of thing. We figured it might be a time share scam. 

Gosh, it was nothing we expected. It was a company that's selling skincare and supplements huh? So then we thought it must be multi level but it wasn't. Not really. It was a company building their own pharmacy chain (so they claim) but they hadn't built the first outlet yet. They wanted people to invest in it so that everyone would have a share of all items sold to their members. It was laced with a million loopholes but they were trying to build their member base, get you to recruit others for them etc etc. They were selling hope to people who may have been swayed by the attractive renumeration of what you would get back but that's all air talk. Eg, if someone bought RM150 worth of make up in their store (they didn't even specify a make up brand can u believe it?) the investor would get back RM50 and they estimate at least 100 people through the door per day BUT they may as well be selling air because the thing wasn't even built (though they spoke of a nation wide chain to come). 

Plus, it wasn't even Air Asia (there were no flights) but the prize was a 2 night stay in either Bali or Thailand from aaasia (so on the phone it sounded like the airline). My business partner told these people that what they were doing wasn't right because they were soliciting calls to get people to come and see them pretending to be something else on a totally different premise. He said point blank to the lady trying to sell her scheme to us, who in their right mind would go for such a sham? We were already going to leave but they produced the free holiday voucher as promised for a 2 night stay in Thailand at a hotel but we decided not to take it because I didn't want to write any of my details down. I didn't want to feed their rotten database. If everything had a catch, who's to say the holiday wouldn't have one as well.

I was not upset though. We expected the worst so we weren't disappointed. We went with our eyes wide open so we were prepared. My first story though caught me by surprise because of the faces of those smiling girls in the doorway who looked like they were on a school assignment. They deceived me when I thought they were just innocent students. It was a tactic and it worked because my guard came down because they lied so smoothly about their contest. With all things though, I try to look at the glass half full rather than half empty. I got a microwave oven out of it and experience I cannot buy. Sometimes, it takes a scam to know a scam so if you're burnt once, just move on but don't get burnt again la! ;)       


WinnieKepala said...

I know what it feels like. I get a lot of these phone calls pretending to be invitations or telling you that you won something. Usually, before they finish their first sentence, I would automatically reply, "Np thanks".

Sometimes, they go on speaking and I just kept repeating, "N thanks." "No thanks." like a robot until they get the picture and say, "Thank you for your time."

As for the "convincing-looking" 20 year olds, well, I've been there, too. One of my first "jobs" which was a Sales job I interviewed for was one of these scams which I quit in the first hour. :P

Well, you live and learn.

ShenQ said...

I think your last paragraph rings true, even in every aspect of our lives. Thanks for sharing. Your experience or "mistake" allows us to not fall for the same thing too.

Anonymous said...


Nizam said...

thanks for sharing this jo2. I received many phone calls of similar type myself but never went to one, mostly cz i was busy with work. now that i know what are these calls are all about.


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That's Ron said...

dont u love scammers!

Master said...

I know your blog entry is bout the scam..but I just couldn't get past looking at the pic of you in the green


Master said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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