Hoax accused linked to airline scam claims
A Malaysian woman at the centre of a sick hoax that left the parents of a dying girl heartbroken is wanted for questioning in her home country regarding an airline ticket scam.
Siti Nurhidayah Kamal, 24, left Malaysia in September before moving to a Melbourne sharehouse.
She is accused of trying to extort $1000 from Boronia couple Jay and Dee Windcross after the pair lost a mobile phone containing priceless photographs of their dying 11-month-old daughter, Amiyah.
Mrs Windcross accidentally left the phone in the bathrooms at Chadstone Shopping Centre over the Easter long weekend. When she realised she had lost it - and the only copies of pictures of her terminally-ill baby girl - the couple made an impassioned plea for the return of the phone.
Police allege Ms Kamal contacted the Windrosses on Tuesday night, demanding $1000 for the return of the phone. But she never had it. The couple spent the last night of little Amiyah's life corresponding with the Malaysian national.
In court yesterday, Ms Kamal wiped away tears as she was told she will remain behind bars until her next hearing in July. She is charged with one count of blackmail by making unwarranted demands with menace.
Ms Kamal's lawyers said yesterday that the 24-year-old has "never been in custody", news.com.au has learnt several people from Malaysia claim she stole money from them.
The alleged victims sent screenshots of conversations with a woman they believe to be Ms Kamal. Police reports detail how a woman with the same name stole money from them when she posed as an AirAsia employee.
One police report lodged with Malaysian police in Kuala Lumpur accuses "Siti Nurhidayah Kamal" of taking money for tickets for six passengers to travel at a cost of 2895 Malaysia Ringgit ($A993).
"The first payment I made was via online transaction to a bank account number in the name Siti Nurhidayah. Next I made a payment in stages to the same account number until the amount (had been paid).
"(Later) I contacted AirAsia to know my flight ticket status but AirAsia informed us that the booking of the ticket was cancelled by the nominee without making any payment."
A spokesperson for AirAsia confirmed the Facebook page Dayah Online AirAsia Ticketing was "indeed a scam".
Kate, whose surname has been withheld to protect her identity, told news.com.au she paid almost $A680 for tickets after corresponding with the seller bearing the same name, but never received them.
She said her case had been reported to police in Malaysia.
Hashima Hasbullah is the Secretary General of non-profit organisation Consumers Front for Sabah, which handles consumer complaints when victims get no help from police. She is handling 163 cases for victims who say they were scammed out of more than $A34,900 by Ms Kamal. That includes 70 teachers and students attempting to buy tickets for a school trip.
She claims Ms Kamal sent a copy of her passport, and her passport number, to several people in Malaysia as a surety when asking for money.
It's believed Ms Kamal is the daughter of a Royal Malaysian Police officer.
The 24-year-old and her husband moved to Springvale, in Melbourne's southeast, in September last year. They left their two children behind, the Ringwood Magistrates' Court heard on Monday.
Since arriving in Australia, Ms Kamal has been working as an Uber Eats delivery cyclist.
Mr and Mrs Windcross, whose daughter died in their arms last Wednesday morning, said the accused blackmailer could not have struck at a worse time.
"While trying to spend every emotional minute with Amiyah and giving her all my attention,
I'm also responding to someone claiming to have our phone with all the memories of her," Mrs Windcross wrote on Facebook.
Mr Windcross said: "Not only was it a complete and utter waste of my time, it was interrupting my final moments with my dying daughter."
In an emotional post on Facebook, Mr Windcross wrote that little Amiyah died peacefully.
"It is with utter sadness that Dee and I inform everyone that Amiyah Victoria grew her wings at 2.05am on Wednesday morning. Amiyah's last hours were spent peacefully and calmly, cuddling in Mummy's and Daddy's arms - which is what she loved most," he wrote.
"Amiyah battled hard and fought from the day she was born. Her strength, her courage, and her unrelenting fight was on display from her first breath, all the way till her last."
Ms Kamal was denied bail this week on the grounds that she posed a flight risk because her two children are still in Malaysia.
She spoke briefly through an interpreter via video link at the Melbourne Magistrates' Court and sobbed after learning she will be remanded until her next hearing on July 8.
Victoria Police has been approached for comment.