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Thursday, 15 February 2018 | MYT 12:00 AM

Billion-ringgit scam busted

KUALA LUMPUR: Police have busted an alleged foreign exchange scam that is believed to have cost its victims a staggering RM1bil in total.

On Feb 10, coordinated raids across the city saw three suspects with “Datuk” titles arrested.

Sports cars, motorcycles, branded bags and even solid gold bars, which paint a picture of a luxurious lifestyle among the alleged scammers, were seized during the raids.

The suspects were picked up as a result of extensive investigations into FX United, a forex investment platform, police said.

Officially, 116 police reports were made against the group.

However, investigations have led authorities to believe more than 70,000 victims may be involved. FX United was set up in 2013.

Police are also looking for a husband-and-wife duo to help in the investigations.

Datuk Pandeyan Maruthamuthu, 56, and his wife Datin Gouri C. Faskuny, 55, are believed to have left for a neighbouring country a day after the raids.

Police are working with their overseas counterparts to locate them. A source within the investment group said the suspects were relentless in getting their money from investors.

“They would be nice at first, but as time wore on, they would get rough,” he said without elaborating.

The source added that some victims kept in close contact through a support group after they stopped receiving returns.

However, many were reluctant to lodge reports for fear of having their accounts frozen, or out of embarrassment.

Federal Commercial Crimes Investigation Department director Comm Datuk Seri Amar Singh said the group had an elaborate set-up to convince investors.

“They even registered their company with the Companies Commis­sion of Malaysia and held seminars for investors in hotels,” he told reporters at the department’s headquarters here yesterday.

“Victims were offered lucrative returns as high as 12% monthly. The minimum investment varied, but it averaged around RM3,000.

“The single biggest loss was found to be a couple of hundred thousand ringgit,” he said.

He added that the arrested suspects have been remanded and will be placed under the Prevention of Crime Act (POCA) at the end of their remand periods.

Police have so far frozen 38 bank accounts and seized a RM5mil bungalow in the course of the investigation.