Short Messaging Service (SMS) scammers managed to fleece close to RM1.9 million from victims throughout Sabah since 2006.
One of them was bold as to even try his luck on Sabah Commissioner of Police Datuk Noor Rashid Ibrahim.
Noor said about RM29,000 was lost in 2006 while RM1.8 million went into the pockets of these conmen last year alone.
"We recorded 23 SMS scam cases in 2006 and 65 cases in 2007. The figures reduced to 27, involving losses amounting to RM61,000 in 2008," he disclosed to the Press in Kota Kinabalu recently.
The scams by these con artists ranged from competitions by reality television talent show Akademi Fantasia to big oil company Petronas offering prize money to so-called lucky draw winners.
The only catch was the winners had to pay a sum of money to get their purse. After the targets paid the money, not surprisingly all communication from the lucky draw organisers ended.
Noor Rashid said police have detained 22 people, including nine foreigners, in connection with SMS scams so far.
"They have several modus operandi (MO). The usual MO is the lucky draw competitions while another involves the scammer pretending to be someone with a massive amount of money outside the country É in fact I was contacted once on this.
"The person will try to convince the targets to give him their account numbers so he can transfer and keep the money in the account temporarily, at the same time promising the account holders a sum of money as a token of appreciation," he said.
In the end, he said the scammer will somehow find a way to drain their accounts dry, adding in other instances, scammers will get locals to open bank accounts, take over the accounts to bank money cheated out of other people into them.
"They pay like RM100 to these people who open the bank account for them and that's it," said Noor Rashid.
He advised those who encounter these kind of things to ignore them altogether.