Awareness key to fighting scams, says police chief

KUALA LUMPUR: Financial crimes, especially scams, have been plaguing the country for several years now, resulting in hundreds of millions of ringgit worth of losses.

The main ones are loan scams, investment scams, Macau scams, job scams, email hacks and SMS scams.

The Macau scam often starts with a phone call from someone pretending to be an officer from a bank, government or law enforcement agency or debt collector.

The scammer will then claim that the potential victim owes money, has an unpaid fine or even implicated in a crime.

The victim will then be given a choice to settle the matter by transferring their funds to a mule account designated by the “officer” or face “dire consequences”.

These unsuspecting victims will then be asked to make payments to get themselves off the hook.

Hundreds of millions of ringgit have been lost to the scammers who posed as officers from government agencies such as the police, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and even the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN).

The other type is the job scam where hundreds of Malaysians have been duped with offers overseas, only to be forced to work for scam syndicates.

Syndicates will advertise their dubious job offers on social media sites with the promise of lucrative salaries to unsuspecting Malaysians.

The victims will be lured to countries such as Cambodia and Myanmar where they are forced to work for syndicates and kept in horrendous conditions.

According to the Foreign Ministry, a total of 324 people have been rescued in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar since April, out of 459 cases reported to the ministry.

The police also detected loan scams whereby syndicates used 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.

Meanwhile, authorities have also reminded the public to be careful of scammers stealing their money through the Transaction Authorisation Code (TAC).

The scammers will find ways to steal the banking details of their victims.

However, when the scammers attempt to perform a transaction, the TAC will still be sent to the victim’s mobile phone.

The scammers will then call the victim, claiming that the TAC was sent wrongly and asked the victims to read out the code to them.

According to police statistics, a total of 12,092 financial crime cases have been recorded as at July this year, which resulted in RM414.8mil in losses.

In 2019, 13,703 cases were recorded with RM539mil in losses, followed by 17,227 cases in 2020 (RM511.2mil) and 20,701 cases last year (RM560.8mil).

Since 2019, more than 33,000 suspects have been apprehended by the police.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani previously said cybercriminals’ abilities to exploit technological changes and creatively trap victims with a variety of new tactics contributed to the rise of financial crimes.

He also said that insufficient public awareness on cybercrimes was also one of the main reasons for the increase.

“The police see the need to disseminate as much knowledge as possible to the community so they can avoid becoming victims of such criminal activities,” he had said.

This is on top of punitive action taken against scam syndicates, he added.

The police have time and again 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, call the CCID infoline via WhatsApp at 013-2111222, 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,” the police advised.

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