It happened six years ago when I realized that I had fallen into a Macau scam where I lost almost RM8,000. I was threatened by a person who claimed to be a Royal Malaysian Customs Department officer to transfer the money to his bank account or else I would be sued for the parcel that was sent to me by an unknown person. After a few transactions, he still kept asking for some more money for the purpose of paying the cost of fines and various other claims before the package was sent to me- but instead, the parcel never arrived.
I had just finished my undergraduate studies and was unemployed at that time, so I decided to borrow the money from my close friends. I was scared, confused, and perplexed after I found out that I had been deceived by the modus operandi of the syndicate. That huge and impactful event had left me with emotional scars, including shame, guilt, anger, insomnia, and lots of negative effects which I took a long time to heal. Now that I have recovered almost completely from the incident, I want to share with you what I have learned and how you can protect yourself from being scammed as well as play your roles in case there is a family member or friend experiencing this event.
In the first quarter of 2019 alone, 60 million were lost to cyber-crimes, which come in many forms of fraud, scams, and financial theft. According to the New Straits Times in July 2021, Malaysians suffered losses from cyber-crimes fraud amounting to about RM2.23 billion since 2017 and the amount has been steadily rising. Although the most common types of financial fraud can be avoided, sometimes fraud is outside of and beyond our control.
The initial emotional effects I experienced were embarrassment and anxiety about confronting this problem rationally, where I ended up keeping silent about it. I later read about the psychology related to my actions of concealing the fact from anyone, including my family, instead of asking for help. Dr Luis Vega, a Professor of Psychology, explained that your rational mind literally goes to sleep when you are in a state of shock or under stress. This eventually prevents you from confronting the problem logically when shame and embarrassment prevent you from seeking help.
Apart from that, I have also encountered both emotional and physical effects, which are loss of appetite, insomnia, as well as resentment, anxiety, and anger after falling into money fraud and losing a lot of money, I am aware I will not get it back. I later told my parents, but I was unable to get the support I wanted. I took a long time to accept the truth and struggled with mood swings because I didn’t know how to cope with feeling like a loser. So my advice for you who have family members or friends facing this problem is to not judge what has happened to them, be supportive and give them words of encouragement so that they do not feel lonely and afraid.
There are a lot of things to learn from being scammed, apart from your trust level going down, you become determined not to let it happen again and maintain a high degree of skepticism. The most important thing is to always be wary of any information, either from a phone call or emails you receive, and know how important it is to check up on the source first. Scammers will always do background checks on you, at least through your social media account, which is why they will know more about you than you think. Do not expose your private information because all of that information points to your weaknesses that will be easy for them to manipulate. Remember, if something does not feel right, always do your research and trust your gut.
Maryam Azalan is a content writer under Headliner by Newswav, a programme where content creators get to tell their unique stories through articles and at the same time monetize their content within the Newswav app.
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