Written by Harith Zulkefly, Edited by Hanif Omar Yazid
With the increasing amount of tourists each year in our country, the crime rate against tourists increases. There are many types of crime where tourists in Malaysia should be aware of, this is because, tourists are the targeted group of people. Currently, scams are one of the major problems in Malaysia. Here are the types of crime happening against tourists that is currently wide spreading all over the country.
Pickpocketing is the most common. The perps are active in places like shopping malls, Petaling Street, Bukit Bintang, even in a packed train or bus. It’s a perfect hunting ground for potential prey. They will take full advantage of these conditions to stand nearby their victim and steal whatever they can lay their hands to, given it’s a valuable item. Their modus operandi is to stand by their victim unannounced and they slip their hands in bags or pocket of their naïve prey and steal it. If your wallet or purse or bag gets stolen, immediately go to the nearest Police Station and submit a police report. A fast response helps the relevant banks to halt any dubious transactions from the perpetrator using your stolen cards or ID.
Ways to overcome: Beware of your surroundings and please refrain keeping your wallet or any valuable item in your back pocket. Always zip and keep your bags closed to prevent pickpockets from reaching inside your bag. At least we don’t want any hands lurking in your bag.
Fake monks seeking donation
This is quite controversial. This is a form of scam has that gone global. Buddhist monks do not ask for donations in public every time. They only ask for donations during prayer/worship service or special occasions. It is understandable that people feel sorry and donate to the monk, but don’t feel sorry if you got duped by saffron donning monks without any legitimate paperwork or identity. There are syndicates organising these scams and its dangerous.
Disclaimer: Not all monks are fake, these fake monks are charlatans and scammers
Ways to overcome: Make it clear that you do not want to make any donation and walk away from the situation gently. If you come across any charity or donations, ask for their certificate and initials to make sure they are not bunch of scammers. If you really want to donate, go to a Buddhist temple and donate there, they surely have some donation drives or a dedicated box where you can contribute some alms for their cause.
Petaling street’s reputation is the talk of the town. It’s is a place where you can find designer goods for such cheap prices. The prices are too good to be true and that is when you know, it’s fake. Tourists that come to Malaysia easily fall for their words and tend to buy those fake goods without checking the credibility and the originality of the product. Where else to buy some bootlegs while having loads of cash to spend for some souvenirs. These merchants are not just attempting to scam you but at the same time, break the law by selling counterfeit goods. Buying them may seem a bargain to some, but a bane to the tireless designers and workers that toil their craft to design original bags. Probably there’s a syndicate that exploit cheap labour to produce those bootleg copies. Just buy original. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy fakes
Ways to overcome: If you are getting designer goods for such a low price from a market or any unlicensed retailer, then it must be fake. Might as well, you head to a shopping mall. Or might as well check some excellent art and handicraft products in the Central Market just near Petaling Street. That will sure worth your every sen you spend there. You also can help support the arts industry too if you buy those products.
Beware. The streets of Kuala Lumpur, especially in Changkat Bukit Bintang comes alive at night. Pubs galore and nightclubs sprawl through Changkat as Malaysians call it. However, be aware of problems when it comes to drinking in a bar or clubs alone. It goes by the name of drink-spiking. A stranger comes to you, offer you a drink, tried his/her best to distract your attention, put some random sleeping drug into your drink, making you feel dizzy. That’s is when they take advantage of you and rob you, or worse.
Ways to overcome: Easy. Do not accept, I repeat, do not simply accept any stranger’s offer to buy you a drink, unless the bartender said it’s on him. Always keep an eye on your drink and do not leave it unattended.
Unauthorized credit card transactions
One of the rising scams in Malaysia is unauthorized credit card transactions. How, you might ask? Firstly, the victims will receive a text message or a call from an unknown number. It says there has been an unauthorized card transaction or an attractive prize offer for you to claim it. Then, once the victim answers the phone call, they will start asking for your bank details. A naïve victim will just tell that them the details. Congratulations, your money will be then gone by the minute.
Ways to overcome: If you ever receive a text message or a phone call from an unknown number saying that there is an unauthorized transaction, reject the call right away, contact your bank and report to them directly about the incident. Do not ever give away your personal bank details to a random stranger albeit your close friends whatsoever. Most phones have a built-in algorithm to detect dubious phone numbers. That helps too.
All taxis in Malaysia (Klang Valley, Penang and Johor Bahru) are required by law (Section 22(3) Land Public Transport Act 2010) to be metered and haggling is prohibited for all metered taxis. However, there are still a few numbers of taxi driver that hags around and ask for a flat rate of taxi fare instead of using the meter provided and this causes the passenger to pay double the price compared to the meter price. If a taxi driver agrees on using the meter for the taxi fare, they may use a longer route to reach your destination. In some cases, they tend to take the longer and crowded route. This is because, it helps them to scam their passenger by increasing the price of the taxi fare as they use a longer route or driving through the crowded area. Taxi drivers exploit the fact that tourists are not familiar with the route and decides to cheat them. The worst of the lot is called “Teksi Sapu”. These are unlicensed taxis, with no meters and no safety checks. They usually cheat your way into paying exorbitant fees and taking you to doubtful places.
Ways to overcome: Before you get in the taxi, make sure that the meter is on. If a taxi driver asks you for a flat rate, you can reject the taxi driver and walk away. If you feel like the taxi driver is taking the long way, stop them and speak up. Idenify a legitimate taxi driver by glancing whether they display a driver card. You can also set your own way through your own navigation system in your phone like your GPS or Waze. Can’t find a taxi? Use GrabCar or any ride-sharing applications.
Those are the types of crimes in Malaysia that we identify, targets towards tourists. We hope you take good precautions to avoid being duped, lied and cheated.