KUALA LUMPUR: The “romance” out of Africa is so beguiling that Malaysian women gave away RM71mil to love scammers last year, in spite of continuous reports in the media.
They topped the list of victims who lost a total of RM1bil in online scams.
Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigations Department (CCID) director Comm Datuk Seri Mortadza Nazarene said cheating by Africans, which included the “parcel” and “love scam”, recorded a significant increase last year, in spite of the department’s campaigns and media coverage over the modus operandi of these conmen.
Comm Mortadza said there were 14,627 cases of online scams last year, in which victims lost a total of RM1.09bil.
In 2014, the department recorded 11,931 cases with losses amounting to RM816mil.
“It is very alarming that such cases are on an upward trend. This is because of the influx of foreign cyber criminals,” he said in an interview to mark the 209th Police Day tomorrow.
Comm Mortadza said police had made progress by arresting 610 tricksters in 2014 and 417 last year.
He said 90% of African scam victims were women.
“Among the women targeted are those who are lonely, gullible, seeking love and those seen to be greedy,” he said.
A study commissioned earlier this year by Telenor Group, a Norwegian multinational telecommunications company with operations in Scandinavia, Europe and Asia, found that Malaysia was the country most vulnerable to Internet scams.
The Internet scam study was aimed at gaining better understanding of common online rackets by polling 400 users, aged between 18 and 65, in four countries – Malaysia, India, Singapore and Thailand.
Malaysia topped the list with 46% of respondents saying they had been victims of Internet scams, followed by Thailand at 43%.
About 46% of Malaysian respondents, all of whom described themselves as Internet users averaging nearly 10 hours per day on the Web, said they knew a friend or family member who had been scammed online.
The influx of cyber criminals was not a surprise as the country has become the region’s multimedia hub.
“The cyber criminals gain entry into this country by posing as students. In most of the cases, the perpetrators are foreigners who set up their base in Malaysia,” he said.
Comm Mortadza said although the CCID was not assisting the Immigration Department in vetting foreign students applying for visas, those arrested would be sent to the Immigration Department where all their information would be recorded through the biometrics system to prevent them from entering the country again.
“All information of cyber-crime prevention can be obtained through pamphlets, posters and also the Cyber Crime Alert Royal Malaysia Police Facebook,” he said.