On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Oh, we’re so gullible

Criminals are all coming to Malaysia and we seem to be easy pickings for the con artists.

WORD must have gone out to criminals all over the world that Malaysians are easily some of the most gullible people around. In their lingo, they probably say we are suckers, and what is sad is they are right.

There is also the perception that Malaysia’s international entry points allow for easy and unimpeded access to criminals and foreigners who come here not as tourists but for suspicious activities.

We also seem to be easily taken in by those who are white, or seem to look white, and believe they are all respectable well-off individuals, never mind that they come from financially stricken European countries.

A few may believe they also have better genetic stock, if we believe the stories from that bald Bosnian who also thinks he is good-looking and of great intellect.

But when it comes to con jobs, colour does not really matter. The con artists from Nigeria, who probably award diplomas for scams and other con jobs, have swindled many not only here but around the world too.

A few years ago, there was this con job where the perpetrators would convince a targeted victim to believe that the piles of bankĀ­note-sized paper in a trunk or a safe were real money which had been dyed black or another colour supposedly to prevent detection by Customs.

The victim was then persuaded to pay for special chemicals to wash the “money” with a promise that he would share in the proceeds. The best part is that there were enough Malaysians, greedy and mental ones, who bought into this ridiculous scam.

And with the Internet boom, we started to get those outrageous e-mail from long-lost relatives of some corrupt civil servants, sometimes claiming to be from Zimbabwe, who want us to invest in some questionable deals. We would be promised a hefty commission to help the scums who supposedly could not take the money out of their country.

But this approach appears to be over-used now as even the most naive Malaysians are not buying into these silly cheating scams. So the African con men have re-invented themselves.

You have to credit them for their innovation. Outrageous as it may sound, they have taken on new identities as white men residing in the United States or Britain.

I can’t fathom how an African guy staying in a rented flat in Sentul can pass off as a suave, witty and charming Hugh Grant with impeccable English and a Chelsea address.

But each year, millions of ringgit go into their dirty hands because our gullible women, despite meeting these scoundrels via the Internet, never ask to talk to them and see them face to face via Skype or Face Time. It seems the sound of their voice is good enough.

It doesn’t matter that many of these African con men cannot even write well in English, but then many Malaysians also cannot do this now anyway!

According to says.com, “Malaysia is worse than Mexico in cyber crime. According to Sophos Security Threat Report 2013, Malaysia is the sixth most vulnerable to cyber crime.”

It said that listed among the 10 riskiest countries, Malaysia is also reported to be highly exposed to cyber crime with a reported RM1bil lost.

Then there are the Iranians. There are lots of Iranians in Kuala Lumpur and many of us can’t tell if they are rich oil sheikhs or drug smugglers.

The media is also filled with reports of Malaysian women who end up as mules for criminals who duped them to smuggle drugs – and all these women claimed they believed they were given free tickets to go on a paid holiday but had to pass the bag to someone while on transit.

Lately, we have South Americans entering Malaysia to target the homes of Malaysians. My brother walked into his home one day to find Latino-speaking individuals ransacking his house. Have we come to that?

Yes, they are all coming to Malaysia – the South Americans, the Nigerians and other Africans, and the Iranians.

As one writer, Norman Sukumaran, correctly said in the blog “OutSyed The Box”, “We have lost the fight against Indonesian overstayers and illegals, (but we) cannot now become a haven for Africans, Iranians and South Americans whose sole purpose to enter Malaysia is for criminal purposes.”

These criminals have given their countries a bad name and their decent, hardworking fellowmen who are students and professionals have found themselves lumped into the same category.

But who can blame Malaysians for feeling this way? We are already sick and tired of local hoodlums and the last thing we need are foreign criminals targeting us too.