Today at 11:12pm
This afternoon around 5:30pm I was at Queensbay Mall Penang, doing some financial payments (credit card, mobile and etc). I went to the 1st floor Maybank ATM to withdraw some money.
As the ATM was finalizing my payment, someone tap me on the shoulder. Naturally I turned around, and there was this stocky Middle Eastern man (around 5ft 2in, fair complexion), pointing to some money on the floor (around RM30+ there were 3-10 ringgit and several 1 ringgit notes).
He said " I saw you drop your money just now". Coincidently today I have some bundled spare notes in my shirt pocket. So I pick up the ringgits on the floor.
Suddenly a lady also of Middle Eastern descent - shoulder length curly hair, fair complexion, 5ft 3in said to me " It's my money!" then the man told her " No, I saw him dropping it - while pointing to me". Instantly I check my shirt pocket, with a quick glance I felt and saw my bundle of spare notes is intact. Without any hesitation, I pass the money to the lady and said "It's your money, not mine."
Within split second, I turn back to the ATM and saw a male person hand (did not see the face) was approaching for my ATM card that the machine automatically return upon finishing a transaction. Out of natural instinct, I slap on the wrist of the person's hand that was trying to take my ATM card.
And the person quickly walk off, I did not have a chance to look at the face as I was waiting for the ATM to dispense out my RM1500.
All this happens within 2-3 seconds. When I finally got my cash and turn around, the Middle Eastern man and women has disappeared including the taller male person that was trying to take my ATM card and most possibly my cash. I quickly went down the escalator to see where they have gone, I manage to catch a glimpse of the Middle Eastern lady as she was going down the escalator but then she also quickly vanished.
If I had been slightly doubtful of my own cash in my shirt pocket OR being greedy, I would most likely had my RM1500 stolen. The Middle Eastern man and lady job is to create a diversion and confusion, while another person is responsible to snatch the cash out of the machine while I was not looking.
This could happen in any mall and there were some people withdrawing from few other machines as well. So it is not a totally secluded condition. I firmly believe they are not the only group in Penang or Malaysia.
Points to be on high alert:
1. If somebody tap your shoulder while you are withdrawing from ATM, make sure you are mindful of your surrounding and especially focus on taking your money first.
2. Their usual trick is to create confusion. Focus on what you are doing.
3. Best is to have a friend with you when you go to the ATM.
Please let everyone you know on this incident. Especially now when near the festive seasons, they are preying on your bonus and salary!
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