KUALA LUMPUR: Using photos of innocent people to cheat and ask for ransom is the latest ruse by scammers, as a family of a missing person has found.

After the family of insurance agent Chia Min Yong, 22, put up notices seeking information about the missing woman, all they received were botched or prank calls, revealed MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Seri Michael Chong.

But on Thursday, her sister-in-law Law Xin Yi received a phone call at around 1pm telling her that Chia, who has been missing since April 5, was being held hostage and they demanded a ransom totalling RM30,000, he said.

“When the family got in touch with me, I advised them to request to speak to her but the caller declined, so I told them to ask for a photo of Chia and the caller then sent over two photos, which we suspected to be fake,” he added.

Chong said when they checked the photos, they found that the scammer had used two random photos of the public – first of a girl, claiming that it was Chia, and the second, claiming it was the caller.

“Upon further checking, we found that the girl had hair like Chia’s but the face was different,” he revealed at a press conference yesterday.

Chong said he wanted the public to know that their photos were being used by these scammers to take advantage of such situations and ask for money.

While the case has received media attention, there is still no concrete information about the whereabouts of Chia, who is from Setapak here.

Her family is pleading for anyone who has information about her to come forward.

Before she went missing, Chia’s last text message to her family was that she had found a better-paying job. The public had found her car on Jalan Usahawan here, said her family, who believed that she was seeking a job in Johor Baru when she disappeared.