Evil in the name of God; Beware deadly con men!


In a country with several religions, there are many who claim to be holy. But how do we tell the saints and devils apart?

IT’S one of the most heinous crimes the country has seen in decades.

A heartless charlatan, claiming to be a holy man, gains the trust of a family and in the pretence of helping them settle a family feud, feeds them with poisoned milk which he claims has been blessed.

Then, as they fall unconscious, he steals their jewellery and tries to cover up his crime by setting their house on fire.

The nation should be in shock. The outrage should be palpable. The hunt for this murderer should be a priority.

The Mona Fandey case shocked the nation years ago. So did the case where three men beat a couple to death in a bizarre ritual to “heal” the latter.

But we seem to be slow on the uptake this time – probably distracted by the politics of the day. Or maybe we are inured by all the con men out there, most of whom claim to be doing God’s work.

And there are many such incidents in recent times.

There was a man who razed his house on the advice of a “holy man” and rebuilt it from scratch according to the latter’s specifications. It cost him a fortune but his luck did not change. Instead, his business went south.

The “geomancer”, when confronted, suggested further renovation.

And, the victim later died in an accident. The suffering the family went through is something I would not wish on anyone – except maybe the mass murderer of Kajang.

Another renovated his house because “some guy said so”. The living room became the bedroom and vice-versa.

His luck, too, did not change. But since he did no re-wiring works, he had to fumble in the dark after entering his house – or the bedroom – to get to the light switches. These are all at the other end.

Why do people even believe in these con men, you may ask?

Probably because there are some genuine ones who have been given the “gift” of being able to help others.

Which is what makes the killings in Kajang very outrageous. It hurts. It makes me seethe. It makes my blood boil.

You see, I was a medium once – the type who would go into a trance and sort things out for people.

The trance is an experience that’s difficult to describe. It could be like you are in deep sleep and when you wake up, there are no memories of what transpired at that time. Or, one might call it, a dream state. Or even an “out-of-body experience”, where you watch yourself do or say things but without control over your ac­­tions.

I did not like not being in control of myself. So, I sought another (more famous) medium to put a stop to it. He did some rituals and told me that I would never lose control again – not unless I or someone close to me was in danger – or if something important was happening.

Sounds like mumbo-jumbo, doesn’t it?

Well, I never lost control since then – except once!

I was driving to Ampang one day and all my senses suddenly began to act up. So, I turned the car around and headed back home to Petaling Jaya. However, when I tried to open the door, I could not. The door was latched from the inside. And, there were noises coming from within.

I raced to the back lane and to the back door. It was ajar where some thieves had just fled. Coincidence? Was I being warned? I don’t know.

A happier example occurred to me later. A holy man, matted hair and all, came by asking for alms. I gave him about RM10. He thanked me and walked away. All of a sudden, he stopped and came back to me.

Young man, do you dabble in numbers (the 4D kind, not numerology)?” he asked. And, I was young only by his standards. I nodded. “Add the number nine to your address and you will get lucky,” he said.

Three days later, I was richer by RM18,000. Coincidence? Random luck? Maybe. It’s something I’ll never know. I have never seen the man since, so I have not been able to thank him.

So, they are not all bad out there. There are some saints among the sinners.

But the guy responsible for the Kajang tragedy wrought evil in the name of God. He must face the full wrath of society.

Meanwhile, I am still grappling with trying to understand how anyone who calls himself a human being – much less a holy man – could plan to wipe out an entire family for a handful of jewellery.

It’s just so senseless.

Why Not? By D. RAJ > There are things out there that defy explanation. One of them is: Why is it in our search for material wealth, we have lost our human values.

Beware deadly con men

PETALING JAYA: Before, there was only the risk of losing money or ending up with a broken heart to glib-tongued swindlers.

Now, Malaysians have to be on the lookout for deadly con men pretending to be mediums to gain the trust of unsuspecting victims before robbing and even killing them.

A recent triple murder in Taman Sri Ramal, Kajang, has highlighted the existence of such vile fraudsters.

A medium who claimed he could mend family disputes through a ritual, poisoned them with milk laced with weedkiller in the wee hours of April 1.

The deceased: (From left) Rajeswary, Manivaran and Sakunthala.

He fled the house after stealing their jewellery and valuables and setting a gas cylinder on fire in the kitchen.

K. Rajeswary, 28, died in hospital on April 4 while her brother Manivaran, 33, died four days later. Their mother M. Sakunthala, 63, died on Saturday.

Selangor police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Tun Hisan Tun Hamzah said although deaths were rare in cases involving con men, many other cases, however, go unreported.

“People should be wary and be extra cautious when seeking alternate solutions to problems, including family disputes and medical ailments,” he said.

He said in most cases, the public seek these people out of desperation.

As con men look for ways to manipulate strengths and weaknesses, they would first work on gaining trust.

“The eventual victims are easily duped because they are usually in a state of distress. The con men prey on their desperation to get what they want,” he said.

Devastated: M. Karuppanan, 65, and his eldest son Sargunan (left) at the Serdang Hospital mortuary.

Meanwhile, the Bukit Aman Commercial Crimes Investigations Department (CCID) director Comm Datuk Syed Ismail Syed Azizan said Malaysians have been swindled of more than RM32mil through scams between January and June last year.

Besides Internet fraud, the con tricks also include parcel scams (victims are told that he or she had received parcels with expensive gifts, jewellery or cash, but the packages are detained by Customs and payment is sought for the release), Macau scams (con men claiming to be police or bank officers duping the victim is being investigated and that he or she has to surrender money into an account to verify that it was not gained illegally).

“A total of 454 Macau scam cases were reported amounting to losses of over RM10.6mil while 472 parcel scam cases were also reported with losses of over RM10mil as well within the same period,” Comm Syed Ismail said.

By AUSTIN CAMOENS and SHAUN HO  austin@thestar.com.my

Call centre for scams busted


KAJANG: They lived in luxury bungalows in a gated community without anyone suspecting that they were engaged in illegal activities involving billions of ringgit.

Kajang Country Heights, where they operated, seemed the perfect guise for the syndicate since the area is home to several ministers and former Cabinet members.

Bad landing: The woman who broke her leg being wheeled out of the bungalow by medical personnel in Kajang Country Heights yesterday.

As it turned out, the cover wasn’t good enough as police busted the outsource call centre yesterday for illegal betting, gambling and Internet scams believed to have been operating since last month.

Police arrested 144 people, including 54 women who were staying in four of the bungalows. They were from Taiwan and China.

The syndicate is believed to have rented six bungalows for betweeen RM15,000 and RM20,000 each.

Police, who had been staking the area for two weeks, found two of the bungalows unoccupied.

Selangor police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Tun Hisan Tun Hamzah said that their passports showed that those detained, all in their 20s, had entered the country on March 6.

He said police raided the houses simultaneously at about 1pm and found the suspects engrossed in their laptops and telephones in a “classroom-like atmosphere” with all the tables neatly arranged in rows. CCTV cameras were installed outside the houses.

“They even had written scripts for their members to use when speaking to the victims,” DCP Tun Hisan said.

He said that a woman broke her leg while a man fractured a hand when trying to escape through a window.

Seven others, including a woman, who had sneaked out of the bungalows were arrested hours later.

Also arrested was a local man who delivered food and other essentials to the syndicate members.

The syndicate operated as football bookies. They invited punters to place bets on matches in the ongoing European championships and told them to deposit cash into an account, DCP Tun Hisan said.

He said their Internet scams included posing as authorities and demanding payment for summonses. They would then ask for the credit card details of the victims.

Police seized RM35,800 during the raid but they estimated that the syndicate had raked in almost RM4bil.

DCP Tun Hisan said police were looking for the mastermind.

By RASHITHA A. HAMID The Star/Asia News Network

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