GEORGE TOWN, Nov 20 – Lee (not his real name), a 30-year-old part-time water filter serviceman, had just lost his job due to the major floods on Sept 15 before he chanced upon an advertisement that appeared on Facebook seeking local tour guides on Oct 26.
He said he wrote to the advertiser by the name of David and was told that as a tour guide, he would have to take clients to malls and other places of interest in Penang. In an interview with the press arranged by MCA’s public complaints bureau here, Lee said he was told on Nov 2 to bank in RM700 as payment for his first assignment at a hotel at Anson Road, but to his disappointment, the client did not show up.
Upset, Lee called the advertiser and demanded an answer as well as the return of his deposit of RM700, but the advertiser clarified that the amount was for a processing fee, before he apologised on behalf of the client, who was not present during the first encounter. The advertiser then called back later to notify Lee that the first customer did not show up because he first needed to see a naked photograph of Lee.
“The advertiser also told Lee the customer wanted pictures of him in the nude. Lee obliged and sent the pictures to him. The advertiser later said the client was not free and asked him to come the next day. He had taken the photos as he was desperate to pay his rent and car instalment which were overdue,” state MCA complaints bureau chief Gui Guat Lye said.
Lee had moved to Penang from Kuala Lumpur three years ago, and earned commissions based on the number of water filters he serviced. The recent Penang floods rendered him out of assignments, and he was desperate to find another job.
Gui said the advertiser called Lee the following day, saying the earlier client was now free, but he demanded another RM600 as “finder’s fee”. “Lee said he could not pay any more money as he was broke. The advertiser then threatened to spread Lee’s nude pictures online,” he said.
Sensing something amiss, Lee challenged the advertiser back, saying he plans to lodge a police report and to return both his earlier deposit of RM700 and the private photograph. But the advertiser had apparently laughed at the suggestion and told Lee that he was not afraid, as the bank account was not his and he was not Malaysian. The Facebook page has also been deactivated.
Lee lodged a police report at the Pulau Tikus station on Nov 6, giving the details of the advertiser’s bank account before raising his grievances with the Penang MCA Public Services and Complaints Bureau here. The bureau chairperson Gui Guat Lye and his deputy Tan Eng Hin called for a press conference with the aim of informing people not to be easily duped by online advertising and promises, especially from strangers.
In the meanwhile, Lee, who wore a cap and a face mask at the press interview, advised the public not to fall for unverified Facebook job advertisements. “Please stick to original job ads from proper job agencies,” he said with a pronounced stutter. Gui said he would follow up with the police on the case and was confident the conman would be found.
Northeast district police chief ACP Anuar Omar said the case will be investigated by the Malaysia Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) under Section 233 of the MCMC Act 1998. The section deals with the improper use of network facilities or network service. — PN