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Don’t deal with ‘withdrawal agents’

PETALING JAYA: Desperate to pay off money he owed relatives, a businessman approached a withdrawal “agent” online who claimed to be able to help him take out savings from his Employees Provident Fund (EPF) account before the mandatory retirement age.
The 38-year-olds from Negri Sembilan, who wanted to be known only as Fauzi, said he contacted the agent after reading a post on Facebook about pre-retirement EPF withdrawals.
“The first thing they asked was whether I met the basic criterion, which was savings of at least RM150,000,” he said.
Fauzi said the agent would then start a process for a housing withdrawal application by providing all the necessary documents such as the loan and sale-and-purchase agreements.
“He also claimed to be able to get the application approved within one month,” said Fauzi.
But when the agent told Fauzi that he needed to pay him 45% from the total amount he would receive, Fauzi backed off.
“The figure was just too high, so I did not pursue the matter,” he said.
A mechanic known only as Lee also contacted one of these agents.
“I needed extra cash for my business,” he said.
Lee, 42, was, however, informed by the agent that he would be given the necessary documents to apply for an education loan.
“They gave me a few options for private colleges and said all I had to do was fill up the forms and pay them a commission when the application is approved,” he said.
He went for it but the plan failed to get past EPF’s vetting.
MCA Public Services and Complaints Department chief Datuk Seri Michael Chong said he had encountered many similar cases but these mostly involved people who were heavily indebted to Ah Long.
“EPF has a very stringent monitoring system and it is doing a good job at detecting fraud attempts.
“For those who consider engaging these fraudsters, I urge them not to do so.
“It takes you years to save that amount of money. The savings should only be used during your retirement,” said Chong.
He expressed regret that many think that they should be able to utilise their retirement savings before they reach the mandatory age for withdrawals.
“Some victims said that they were just taking their own money. This mentality is wrong.
“Before doing so, everyone must remember that there will be consequences for their actions,” he said.
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