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Dozens of South Koreans duped in $630k Malaysia travel scam

JOHOR BAHRU (THE STAR) - Dozens of Koreans in Malaysia have been duped out of more than RM2 million (S$630,000) in what is believed to be a flight ticketing scam.

The victims were enticed with huge discounts on their airline tickets to and from South Korea as well as the promise of 100 per cent refunds for those unable to board their flights should they test positive for Covid-19.

So far, over a dozen police reports have been lodged nationwide, especially in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Johor.

Malaysian daily The Star reported that a couple - a Malaysian in his 20s and his Korean wife in her 30s who operate a travel agency in Sabah - could be involved in the scam.

The South Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur is aware of the scam and has been asking their nationals to lodge reports on the matter.

One of the victims, who wanted to be known only as Kim, said the couple had advertised their services on a local Korean community page, which has among its members, thousands of Koreans residing in Malaysia.

She said the couple not only provided cheaper flight tickets but also enticed people with full refunds for those unable to board their flights due to Covid-19.

"If you purchase the tickets via the airlines, there is no discount or refund if you are unable to board your flight on the date of departure.

"There were many good reviews about their services. I believe that due to border restrictions, they (couple) were able to get airlines to give them good prices for tickets to and from South Korea," she told The Star.

However, when the borders were fully reopened in April, they (couple) were unable to book the seats for those who had paid earlier as the airlines might be fully booked.

"I alone paid more than RM30,000 for three business class tickets for my husband, eight-year-old daughter and myself to South Korea in June.

"We paid in January and now, they (couple) are saying that they are unable to refund my money," she said, adding that she had lodged a police report in Iskandar Puteri, Johor.

Ms Kim said the couple's ruse was exposed when 10 Koreans who were flying from Kuala Lumpur to South Korea were stranded at the KL International Airport despite being given electronic tickets on April 29.

"There was no explanation and they were very upset.

"Since then, many people posted that they have not been able to contact the tour agency or the couple," she said, adding that there could be more than 100 victims nationwide, including Malaysians.

The couple, she added, had allowed Koreans to pay either in Malaysian or Korean currencies via bank transfers here and in South Korea.

Ms Kim hopes that the police will immediately track down the couple and help them get refunds.

When contacted, a police spokesperson said the case was being investigated under Section 420 of the Panel Code for cheating.

The spokesperson said to date, there were seven reports in Johor alone with losses amounting to more than RM100,000.

The Johor police, he added, would be liaising with their counterparts in Sabah to track down the couple.

He urged victims with information about the case to come forward and inform the police.

malaysiaSouth KoreaSCAMS