How to catch a con man

How to catch a con man
KUALA LUMPUR: HE is tall, dark and very, very convincing.

An actor, model, socialite, doctor, air steward and an all-round high flier — he is all of the above to those he conned.

Heard of the best iPhone deal in town? He has it. Fancy the latest LCD television set? He can get it for you at the cheapest prices. Want an exclusive membership card that entitles you to free branded products? No problem, he can hook you up.

If all of these offers sound too good to be true: they are. But ‘Adam’, as he is known to his victims, is a good persuader. He can calm all your suspicions by flashing you a broad, confident grin, saying: “Trust me. I’m an artist, why would I cheat you?”

And the ‘proof’ is in his Instagram account — where he is seen in photos with celebrities and happening events— which erases all doubts of his claimed connections to big shots in the country.

But despite all that, the comfortable life of this smooth-talking artist came crashing to a momentary halt on Tuesday when a group of his own victims decided to set him up and catch him.

“He cheated so many people, not just me but my friends and even using our names to con others. We just wanted this thing to stop,” said 24-year-old investor Muhammad Hafizzat Rusli, or Fizz.

Fizz, who lost some RM5,000 to the man who falsely enticed him with a membership card to get sponsors from LV, Gucci and Hermes), inadvertently became the leader of a group of vigilantes who wanted to get back at Adam.
Enter the ‘secret group’

It was by chance that Fizz met other would-be victims of 'Adam' at an event last month. They were in the middle of being sold a unique ‘package’ which included an iPhone 5 and a housemaid at some RM10,000.

Later, after Fizz exchanged his horror story with them, he decided with them that they had to turn things around and hunt the hunter instead.

"I did lodge a police report but I was told it was difficult to obtain evidence,” says Fizz, who then decide to kick-start a secret group that plotted against Adam.
The group, which uses Whatsapp and Instagram, grew larger from the initial first seven people.

“First we shared our horror stories, then we realised the group was getting bigger, and we decided to do something: we wanted to set up a meet with him with potential buyers,” he says.

On Feb 4, Adam was caught.

“One of our people spotted him at The Curve. When we went there, we found that two others we didn’t know were already fishing for him. They wanted to trap him too,” says Fizz.

Adam was still dealing with the two men when Fizz’s group rushed in, grabbed hold of the suspect, and with the help of auxiliary police, brought the person to a police station that evening itself.

Already gathered at the scene was a mob of more than 20 victims who heard about the ‘good news’. These were from at least 40 cases that Adam was allegedly involved in.

It was previously also reported that Adam, said to be ‘in operations’ at least three four years since 2010, have also allegedly conned some local celebrities, including film producer Raja Azmi.

Call the police, too

“At first police asked us if we could settle the case between parties, but then the mob got more angry. The police then allowed them to interrogate Adam and he was brought to the police station.”

“We couldn’t let him go again. We need to teach these people a lesson. We want to educate him, if no one does, who will? We don’t want him to con others anymore.”

“But yes, we want to try to do everything by law. The angry mob could’ve beaten him but I asked them not to touch him. Can you imagine what could have happened?”

Investigators later say that Adam was involved in a case where he sold travel packages that didn’t exist, though they also said Adam is currently wanted for at least seven other cases.

Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigations Department deputy director (intelligence and operations) SAC Datuk Jalil Hassan says that a good way to stop a con is to involve the authorities.

“For me, just hand it to the police. Don’t be a victim or complainant who find various means to solve the case. If the police are not doing things up to your satisfaction, there are various channels you can complain about them, go through the OCPD (district police chief) or even us at Bukit Aman," says Jalil.

At this point, after his arrest, it is not clear if Adam will be charged in court over the alleged cases involving Fizz and others. Perhaps he has learnt a lesson, or maybe he would continue if the law let's him slip again.

Another victim of his iPhone scam says: “Really, many of us just want to get our money back… but at the same time… we don’t know how long he will continue.

“He is very confident believes in the things he says. Psycho, mental problems. The thing is when we went to see his family, they are really poor, like living in jail. I thought, maybe he wants to so badly be in the rich scene. His mother told us it is not his first time getting in trouble, and his family protects him.

Shaking her head as she recalls being conned: "This guy is really something… I still remember his last words to be before disappearing with my money ‘Don’t worry, I won’t scam you’."