M'sian man said he 'felt giddy' after woman spoke to him at JB checkpoint, worried about 'mind-control scam'

Is this an urban legend?

Belmont Lay | November 13, 2023, 04:54 AM



For those with elephant memories, you'd have heard of anecdotes about a phenomenon, where a person starts to feel out of sorts and even put into a trance-like state, after interacting with a stranger on the streets.

The person then supposedly lets their guard down, and in the process gets scammed by handing over money and other valuables, only to have no memory or a fuzzy one of doing so.

This experience has been told and retold countless times in many countries — even by Singaporeans — over the years.

It has become an urban legend of sorts, involving being put under a spell by a bomoh (shaman) or being taken in by a seductress — occurrences that usually take place while overseas, where hustlers appear ready to strike unsuspecting victims.

The existence of this phenomenon had even led to a professional mentalist in the UK to demonstrate, about a decade ago, how such a scheme works and show what degrees of "suggestibility" look like.

Urban legend still alive and kicking?

Fast forward to November 2023, and it appears that there is still a lot of interest in this phenomenon, as a Malaysian recently posted about his encounter involving speaking to a stranger, a woman, and feeling giddy almost instantly.

However, he was still lucid enough and apparently recovered in time to recount what happened.

Happened at Johor checkpoint

According to a Nov. 9 Facebook post put up in a group for people regularly crossing the Singapore-Malaysia border, a Malaysian man said he was approached by a stranger, a woman, at about 10:20pm.

They crossed paths near the Rotiboy confectionary at the Sultan Iskandar CIQ Complex in Malaysia, which is the Johor Bahru checkpoint, and a place frequented by a lot of Singaporeans.

The man, whose post went up about an hour after the supposed chance encounter, recounted what apparently occurred:

"I just got to Johor Bahru. I was near Rotiboy at the CIQ and a Chinese woman asked me: 'Do you work in Singapore? Tomorrow is my first day working in Singapore, do you have any part-time job recommendations?'

I said I didn't know, but when I heard her voice, I controlled my breathing, but after speaking a few sentences, I took a breath and smelled a floaty scent emanating from her. Then I felt giddy in the head. I then told her I didn't have time. I guess it was a "mind-control gang". But I managed to get home safely."

His post was accompanied by a photo of the back view of the woman he supposedly spoke to.


In three days, the post was shared more than 7,000 times.

A lot of the people who shared the post and commented on it responded by saying this was the "mind-control gang" at work and appeared to be genuinely sharing the account to warn others about it.

A majority of those who reacted appeared to be from Malaysia and their impetus for sharing the post stemmed from them having to make the land crossing frequently, which inadvertently leads to them meeting many strangers along the way.

But there were also sceptics who questioned the man's experience and account of what happened.

One commenter asked how was it possible that the man was affected by the scent supposedly from the woman, but the woman herself was unaffected despite being exposed to it.

Another questioned if the man felt giddy because he held his breath for too long.

Previous case

A cursory search online for the Chinese term "迷魂党" ("mind-control gang") threw up a recent April 2023 news story about a Malaysian woman, who supposedly willingly gave up gold jewellery worth RM70,000 (S$20,300) and cash of RM1,600 (S$464) to people she had met for the first time, after she went into a trance-like state.

According to the article, the woman met with the shady characters in March 2023, when she was doing her marketing alone in the morning.

She was approached by a woman who was crying and begging her.

The stranger said she wanted to help the woman's daughter.

Another woman then showed up and claimed she knew an "expert" who could help.

The victim then took the scammers home, handed over her jewellery, and even went to withdraw money.

She then realised she was deceived and sought the help of a local representative and the police to nab the perpetrators.

It was not clear if any formal action came out of it.

Over on Reddit Malaysia, there exists a two-year old discussion on "mind-controlling scammers".

A few of the responses tried to explain that such scams are akin to smooth-talking the victim into doing things, rather than actual spell-casting or sorcery.

Top photos via Facebook & Google Maps