Public must be more aware of how scams work


KUALA LUMPUR: Cybercriminals are very good at quickly adopting and exploiting new technological changes to stay ahead of law enforcement while they scam millions from the public.

This is why the number of online financial crimes is rising around the world and in Malaysia, according to Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani.

Such crimes can have terrible consequences, he pointed out in his speech before he and Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus launched a virtual Financial Crime exhibition yesterday.

“Financial crimes can devastate the victim and lead to more mule accounts being created for the purpose of scams. It can also have a negative impact on the nation’s economy in the long term,” said Acryl Sani.

Loan scammers and Ah Long (loan sharks) use social media sites and chat applications to advertise their loan offers with fast approvals.

“The syndicates will deal with the victims online and demand various documents and fees before duping them,” he explained.

Bukit Aman expects the syndicates will still employ similar tactics, but they will focus on a younger victim pool – students and youths – to pull off illegal money lending and mule account scams now.

“We are cooperating with banking institutions to ensure investigations, especially those involving mule accounts, can be completed faster,” Acryl Sani said.

Fraud in online purchases, loan and investment scams, the Macau and African scams, business email hacks and SMS scams are the main types of financial crimes and such cases have been on the rise from 2019 to 2021 (the last full year on which statistics were collected), the IGP said.

In 2019, there were 13,703 cases recorded with RM539mil in losses; followed by 17,227 cases in 2020 and RM511.2mil in losses; and 20,701 cases last year with RM560.8mil lost. As at July this year, 12,092 cases had been recorded, resulting in RM414.8mil in losses, he said.

Bukit Aman has rounded up 33,147 suspects between 2019 and July this year, while 22,196 cases have been prosecuted.

While there is some awareness among members of the public of such crimes nowadays, it is still not strong enough to prevent increasing numbers.

The Royal Malaysia Police has various programmes and campaigns to raise awareness about cybercrimes among the public, such as the “Let’s Fight Scammers Together” campaign.

“We will step up such activities this year,” Acryl Sani added.

The IGP advised the public to safeguard their personal information and avoid downloading files or applications from unverified sources onto mobile devices.

Account holders who encounter suspicious transactions involving their bank accounts should immediately notify their banks, contact the CCID infoline via WhatsApp at 013-211 1222, or the CCID Scam Response Centre at 03-2610 1559/1599 or BNMTELELINK at 1-300-88-5465.

“They should also lodge a police report to facilitate the investigation,” said Acryl Sani.

The virtual Financial Crime exhibition by Bank Negara Malaysia Museum and Art Gallery, which can be accessed at bit.ly/bnm_crime, lays out various types of financial crimes and how they have evolved over time.

It features interactive exhibits that allow the public to simulate financial scam scenarios. Through the various exhibits, the public will be able to learn strategies – such as Spot, Stop and Share, aka 3S – to protect themselves and others from becoming victims.

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