Tuesday, 6 Dec 2022

Former Malay TV star Zack Zainal warns of bitcoin scam using his name

SINGAPORE – Former television hunk Zack Zainal has found himself used as the face of a bitcoin scam.

The 1989 Manhunt champion who was the host of Malay Talentime for six seasons (1989 – 1995) got a shock when he heard of an article using his name to solicit bitcoin investments circulating on Facebook a week ago.

The article was apparently posted on a Facebook Group called Real Estate No1 and it claimed that Mr Zainal, who is now working for Emirates Airlines, went from bankruptcy to making $4.7 million by investing in bitcoin.

It then laid out steps that the public can take to invest in bitcoin. The article included a photo of Mr Zainal, which was previously published in The Straits Times in 2015.

But the former star, who also acted in dramas such as Channel 5’s Triple Nine (1996) and Dreamers (1998), has never been bankrupt and did not make millions through bitcoin investments.

“I was perturbed and angry,” said Mr Zainal of the scam in an e-mail to ST.

“When a few mak cik and pak cik (aunties and uncles in Malay) messaged me through WhatsApp with the intent of using their hard earned money, even their CPF money, for the investment, I thought this to be a serious matter.”

He added: “I managed to stop several who contacted me from investing by informing them that the article is false.

“However, I believe the damage has already been done and a few could have fallen into the trap.”

While the article has seemingly been removed, screenshots of it are still available online.Mr Zainal has contacted Facebook to resolve the issue and is also discussing the issue with his lawyer. Although he is now based in Dubai, he flew back to Singapore on Thursday (Nov 15) and lodged a police report the next day.

He also contacted local Malay newspaper Berita Harian to ensure that news of the scam was made known, as he believed that in using him, a Malay star, the scam was targeted at the Malay community.

Mr Zainal urged the public to be vigilant against such scams.

He said: “You can lock your doors against burglars, but making sure you don’t fall victim to a scam – even in the safety of your own home – is much less straightforward. Everybody would love to make lots of money quickly, working from home, and only doing a few hours of work per week.

“My view is, if it is too good to be true, it is likely to be a scam.”

Several other public figures have been used in similar scams, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

Pictures of the both of them were used on websites advertising the scams, with comments fabricated and attributed to them about how profitable bitcoin investments are.

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