Be Wary Of Online Tontine

By Sevagamy Nythiananthan

KUALA LUMPUR, July 21 (Bernama) -- The game of online tontine has been gaining popularity lately, nonetheless the people should exercise caution with these virtual activities to avoid being duped.

This is because playing tontine via social websites has its inherent risks if one does not take precautions such as knowing the background of the tontine members and operator.

Malaysian Crime Prevention Awareness Board president Datuk Seri Dr Saharuddin Awang Yahya felt the tontine operators and participants should be careful to avoid being cheated.

"The game of tontine has been extended into social websites especially on Facebook with the need to appear before carrying out payment or collection. They (both members and operators) made their payments based on trust.

"Nonetheless, greed and over enthusiam among operators and players can potentially be the source of fraud. They may lose their bearing after receiving the money or item they wanted," he told Bernama here.

Tontine now is not only in the form of cash money but it also involved goods such as jewellery, baby products and home decorative items which are advertised in Facebook at low prices to lure new members.

"Most of them are drawn to the activity as they wanted the item fast but at the same time they could not afford the good at cash price.

"For example, they are willing to pay instalments to obtain jewellery without thinking of its authenticity. They only realised they have been duped after receving the item," he said.

He said it was safer to play tontine with familiar people such as colleagues, neighbours and relatives.

Meanwhile, a tontine operator, S.Chitra, 36, said members and its operator should meet before any transaction of money.

Both parties should provide valid personal documents as well as the latest address to prevent any untoward incidents in the game.

"As I am always wary of new members, I will also inform them of the game conditions before they join. As the tontine organiser, I bear a heavier responsibility, he said.

Meanwhile, tontine player Abu Salleh, 27, said he was more interested in electronic gadgets and appliances via tontine.

"If I were to buy it in cash, I probably could not afford it and through the game of tontine, each month we pay for the item in instalment.

"The game of tontine through return of money is very risky as the offer is open to all Facebook members," he said.

However, Abu said so far the tontine groups he was participating in could be trusted and there were no problems as the tontine operator had been responsible to its members.