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Chilling text message turns out to be fake

SCAM: Ms Ooi feared that her daughter had been kidnapped after receiving the message last Tuesday. It contained only three words - "I want you" in Chinese - and a video clip showing her daughter crying for her.


    Mar 18, 2015

    Chilling text message turns out to be fake

    WHEN she received a mysterious text message from a foreign number with a video of her 11-year-old daughter crying, "Mummy, I want you!", secretary W. Ooi's heart skipped a beat.

    Worried for her daughter's safety and thinking that the girl could have been kidnapped, Ms Ooi, 35, called her husband and the child's school. Fortunately, her daughter was safe and the message was determined to be a scam.

    But how the video landed in the hands of strangers is a mystery. However, two old phones she sold last year may hold clues.

    While she was at work last Tuesday, Ms Ooi received a text message at 9.42am from a Malaysian number, Lianhe Wanbao reported yesterday.

    The message contained only three words - "I want you" in Chinese - and the 22-second clip.

    Ms Ooi added that her daughter appeared to be struggling in the clip. After the words "Mummy, I want you" are said twice, the footage starts to shake before ending.

    Shocked by the video, Ms Ooi called her husband and checked with her daughter's school. Her husband confirmed that he had taken the child to school.

    Ms Ooi called the foreign number as well. "I tried to converse in Mandarin but a man kept replying 'Hello hello'. He later passed the phone to two other people, and I tried to speak in English and Malay to ask them what they wanted. But the other party ended the call without replying," the secretary said.

    She began to panic, but the school called back 20 minutes later to assure Ms Ooi that her daughter was still in school.

    As a precaution, Ms Ooi and her husband made a police report, and they now bring their daughter back from school - the girl usually goes home by herself.

    Ms Ooi had not seen the video clip before the incident and said she did not upload any clips of her daughter on social media sites. She was also puzzled as to how the strangers got her phone number.

    When shown the clip and asked about it, the girl seemed afraid and told Ms Ooi she did not recall anything about the video. Ms Ooi said the child might have recorded the clip because she missed Ms Ooi when the secretary was overseas.

    But the mother is concerned that the strangers might have extracted the video and her contact details from two old phones she sold last year, even though she recalled erasing the data on both handsets.

    Thomas Tan, a founder of data recovery company Greenergy, said that even if a phone's data has been deleted, it can still be recovered.

    The police confirmed that a report was lodged over the matter and said the message was established to be a scam. They reminded the public to remain vigilant against such scams.

    Should members of the public believe they have received a kidnap scam phone call or message, they should immediately call the police on 999, a spokesman said. They should also remain calm and contact their loved ones to confirm that they are safe. Money should not be sent to the scammers, he said.

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