Johor police have arrested two men, aged 40 and 57, crippling a state-wide syndicate selling fake Datukships.
The men managed to con at least 40 businessmen of millions of ringgit with the promise of honorary titles such as “Datuk” and the more prestigious “Datuk Seri”, reported The Sun Daily.
Each victim is believed to have paid between RM180,000 ($43,091) and RM280,000 for the titles, as well as between RM20,000 and RM30,000 to join a mandatory state honorific awards “club”.
The two men were active in a non-governmental organisation (NGO) based in Batu Pahat through which they offered the titles, reported the Malay Mail Online.
While the NGO is not connected to the sale of the fake titles, it was used as a front to further the scam.
In a quote carried by The Sun Daily, Johor police chief Mohd Khalil Kader Mohd said: “In order to convince these potential buyers, the club operators showed them fake photos of some Datuks being greeting by members of royal families”.
But victims realised that foul play was afoot when they didn’t receive their promised invitations from the respective palaces or when their award ceremony did not take place.
Mohd Khalil also warned that honorary titles such as “Datuk” or “Datuk Seri” cannot be bought.
“Money cannot buy a Datukship. I have served the police force for nearly 30 years and only just got a Datuk title,” he said.
Investigations are still ongoing, and the crime is being investigated under Section 420 of Penal Code for cheating, Section 15(2) Offences on Award Act, Section 471 of the Penal Code for using fake documents, and Section 45(1) Societies Act 1966.