It was that time of the month when Ah Seng would pedal his trusty old bike, his over sized khaki shorts flapping around his knees, and park it right outside our iron gates. Yes, it was the end of the month and he had come with his big A4 book that had half the population of the housing estate’s accounts in it, under one arm and his old abacus under the other. Our copy would be the A5 size 555 note book. The ‘buku tiga
Pak would sit in his favourite chair waiting to compare the transactions and pay him off before we ‘open’ a new book. Every once in a while, not often though, there’d be some mismatch in the accounting. Some mysterious transactions to the amount of perhaps RM5.00, or RM3.00 , nothing much, would appear in Ah Seng’s copy. And it was very rarely too that Pak would investigate, especially when he had misplaced his glasses. But once, he pointed out, in the manner of the Chief Clerk that he once was, that certain transactions could not have been possible.
Not only were they missing from our ‘buku 555’ but some transactions were made when we were perhaps holidaying in Kak’s house in
“Aiyaaa, bukan lu punya ka?” said Ah Seng equally baffled. Well, admittedly, there were times, when we would just run along and buy the odd packet of salt or Pak’s cigarettes without the book as we couldn’t find it. And Ah Seng would be kind enough to just take our word for it. And it was then too, we would take advantage to try our luck with ‘tikam’, or buy jeruk and stuff. But we would always tell Pak. Usually, things would be worked out amicably between us. After all, Ah Seng would not want to lose a precious customer; someone with lots of children who would spend a lot of money during one outing to his corner shop. But someone somewhere must have been using our account.
I was reminded of Ah Seng’s book of accounts when I received my bank statements recently. I had a shock of my life when I saw several transactions made in several stores of a well known supermarket chain all over the
Hands trembling, I made a desperate call to my bank to report the fraudulent transactions and have my card cancelled. I was standing in the cold, along Edgware road, talking to someone in a call centre in hot sunny
Apparently, this is quite common, I was told. But how could this happen when I had the card with me all the time? I walked into Mawar looking quite forlorn and told anyone who cared to listen, of my misfortune. Well, apparently, there were several other victims. Many said it took months before they got their money back. Yes, the banks would pay back, BUT only after a thorough investigation.
I went home and looked through my diary, and checked dates I was said to have made the transactions.
I am not one to keep receipts or proof of purchase, but I keep a diary. On 14th December, when I was supposed to have a bash at this store in Watford (five spending sprees here on five different days) I was surrounded by a hundred and sixty ex-officers and gentlemen of the British army, filming and interviewing them on their experience serving in Malaysia during the independence and the emergency. They could testify to that. And besides, the only time I went to
And, wait for this...The day I was supposed to have gone crazy shopping for food and stuff at a store in Edinburgh, I was in fact saying a tearful goodbye to my sayang mama at Terminal 3, Heathrow airport. Surely I couldn’t have made a dash, even on my broomstick in this cold weather, to shop for groceries in Edinburgh!
Apart from that, my pattern of shopping during that period of time, was so strange to say the least. I must have been having a feast everyday! And most of the time, I shop in Sommersfield or
Apparently what had happened was, and needless to say my card was cloned, those culprits had purchased only goods worth £10 and had asked for cash back to the amount of £50. This was repeated at other stores.
A banker friend of mine said, it is a sad reality in our modern day life, but it is common. The thieves are always one step ahead. They must have attached a gadget in our cash machines to read and copy our details. Always be very wary when you see something suspicious or unusual at your ATM machine and NEVER let your card out of your sight!
I must consider myself to be very lucky. Like Ah Seng, my bank doesn’t want to lose a precious customer. I have been with them for 27 years and so within five days, I got my £992.00 back.