Penang police have crippled a 'Macau Scam' syndicate operating overseas after detaining 50 people, including its mastermind last week, for allegedly swindling scores of victims involving almost RM3 million.

The local suspects were picked up in an 8am raid at a three-storey bungalow in Taman Damai Utama, Puchong in Selangor on Saturday.

The 47 men and three women have been remanded for three days to facilitate investigations into 82 police reports lodged nationwide and involving RM2.74 million.

A total of 31 passports, fake Penang police and Bank Negara identification documents, laptops and mobile phones were among items seized at the bungalow which served as 'training centre' for budding syndicate members.

Penang Commercial Crime CID chief ACP Abdul Ghani Ahmad said the raid followed a police report lodged by a 50-year-old retiree who claimed to have been cheated of RM5,000 by the syndicate on June 26.

He said syndicate members had contacted the woman and duped her into believing that her credit card had been used to buy furniture.

The victim was then given purported telephone numbers of Bank Negara and the police and told to transfer money to a certain account as the members claimed her account would be frozen for investigation purposes.

The woman did as she was told, only to realise later she had been swindled.

"Following a police report by the woman, we launched an operation and managed to locate the Macau Scam syndicate members at the bungalow which was used as a training centre for would-be members.

"There, we detained the 50 suspects aged between 17 and 42," he told a press conference here Monday.

According to Abdul Ghani, syndicate members were given training at the bungalow before being despatched to several overseas destinations, including Japan, Cambodia, Thailand and the United Kingdom.

"Based on initial police investigations, the 'Macau Scam' syndicate operates from overseas to avoid being detected by the authorities, and most of the members arrested had previously travelled abroad to carry out the scam to target Malaysians," he said.

It is understood that each member of the syndicate received payments of between RM10,000 and RM15,000 each month.

Abdul Ghani said based on investigations, the syndicate members had posed as Bank Negara officers and Penang policemen to deceive victims since the beginning of the year.