Contractors duped of RM2.5m in scam

By John Bunyan
Aznul (holding photograph of ‘Faiz’), Safaruddin (centre) and other contractors who lodged reports at the Sungai Senam police station yesterday. — Picture by Farhan Najib

IPOH, April 25 — Fifteen contractors have been cheated of RM2.5 million by a man who promised them projects by a state government agency which were later found to be non-existent.

The man has gone missing.

Realising they had been victims of a fraud, the contractors have since last week lodged police reports, with seven lodging reports at the Sungai Senam police station yesterday.

The man had approached the 15 and offered them contracts for projects purportedly under the purview of the Forestry Department.

These projects included purchasing seedlings and carrying out land clearing of forest sites.

The contractors were shown offer letters and documents purportedly issued by the department.

One of them, Safaruddin Arif, 51, said he was introduced to the man, whom he identified as “Faiz”,  in December. He said “Faiz” came up with a business proposal.

“He said he did several projects for the state Forestry Department and showed us the letters to prove it,” Safaruddin said.

Later, “Faiz” introduced another individual, whom he claimed was a director of the Forestry Department, to Safaruddin.

“I invested RM148,000 in the projects as they sounded convincing,” Safaruddin said after lodging his report at the Sungai Senam police station.

After several days of silence,  Safaruddin contacted “Faiz”, who asked him for RM24,000 more for another project for which he said he had offer letters.

“I sensed something was not right and told him I would have to verify the projects with the department first,” Safaruddin  said.

His worst fears came true when he learned there were no such projects, or director.

Safaruddin said he met “Faiz” at a restaurant in the city in January.

“During the confrontation, he admitted his fault and assured me he would pay back the money in monthly instalments,” he said.

“At the restaurant, I also met his mother and wife, and both pleaded with me not to report to the police. They assured me a solution could be reached.”

However,  that was the last time he saw “Faiz”.

Later, Safaruddin said, he was shocked to learn other contractors had also been duped.

Businessman Aznul Rizal Fatahal Karim said he met “Faiz” two years ago and was invited to invest in Forestry Department projects.

“I did not suspect anything amiss when I did not get returns initially as I was assured the money was being reinvested in other projects,” he said.

“My suspicions were confirmed when I did not receive any news and my attempts to contact ‘Faiz’  at his Teluk Intan home proved futile.

“When I realised I was a victim of fraud, I posted my plight over social media, and others who had fallen victim to the same  individual came forward.”

Aznul and Safaruddin later met the others and lodged police reports.