A group of teachers claim to have fallen victim to a scheme amounting to hundreds of thousands of ringgit involving land and houses around Taiping, perpetrated by a woman who ran for election at the countrywide polls last year.
Capitalising on donations of food and cash, the woman was said to have attracted teachers who wished to buy houses and land for their old age.
One of them said that the woman, who once led the parent-teacher association in her school, had offered her a plot of land.
"She assured me that there really was a plot of land in Asam Kumbang, and sent me pictures of the grant," she said.
"She said that she could get the land through her political quota."
The teacher added that the woman, who went by the title "Datuk Dr", had claimed that the land belonged to the customs department which wanted to auction it off to the public.
Believing the woman, the teacher made her first payment in 2021.
After that, she said, two other teachers whom she knew became involved in the scheme which also involved residential units.
Together, they spent nearly RM400,000 on their business deals with the woman.
"I never suspected anything because she made frequent donations to the school," the teacher said.
"And she always said that she knew major political leaders like the Taiping Umno chief, Ahmad Shalimin Ahmad Shaffie, Perak Menteri Besar Saarani Mohamad, and Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi."
MalaysiaNow is withholding the woman's identity pending her response.
The teacher said that before the 15th general election in November last year, the woman had hosted an event together with Saarani and invited representatives from the school to attend.
"At the event, the menteri besar praised her for doing so much to help the people without depending on money from the government.
"As it turns out, the donations that supposedly came from her own pocket all this time were actually the money that she got from fraud victims like us," she added.
She said they began to suspect something amiss when they failed to receive the keys, grants or any form of documentation related to their property purchases.
She said the woman also began avoiding them on the pretext of needing to undergo chemotherapy treatment for cancer.
The scheme came to light when the teacher decided to see for herself the house she had wanted to buy.
"I saw someone living there, so I asked about the owner.
"Apparently it was owned by my colleague's mother-in-law, and they were in the dark about any sale of the house to me," she said.
She said the woman had also asked the victims to make their payments in cash deposits to various accounts.
Another teacher said she had been scammed through the offer of a plot of land for about RM5,000.
The woman then coaxed the teacher to add on a second lot.
"I paid around RM10,000 for both plots of land," the teacher said.
"She said the grant would be ready in two months' time. It was then that I knew I had been had. My previous experience had taught me that these things take anywhere from six to seven months to settle."
She said the woman continued to offer her lots, but that she rejected all of them.
This teacher too said she had not suspected anything as she trusted in the woman's image as a public figure.
The lawyer in charge of the case, Mohammad Na'im Samsul Hairi, said all of the cases were being reviewed.
"There is, of course, legal action that can be taken against this woman," he said.
"There are many victims and this case can be said to have both prima facie and locus standi."