On top of the scams list

Ecommerce fraud cases outnumber those of investments and loans

KUALA LUMPUR: When Covid-19 struck in early 2020 and millions of people were stuck at home with nowhere to go, online shopping started picking up and not long after, so did ecommerce scams.

According to the Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID), over RM305.94mil was lost to ecommerce scams between 2021 and August 2023.

Its director Comm Datuk Seri Ramli Mohamed Yoosuf (pic) told The Star that over the last three years, his department had observed that ecommerce scams were becoming more prevalent nationwide.

Ecommerce scams refer to fraudulent online shopping offers and tend to feature “sellers” offering bogus items either on online purchasing platforms or via social media platforms.

In most cases, the seller disappears without a trace once they receive payment from their victims.

“In terms of cases being reported, ecommerce has topped the charts since 2021 with 9,499 cases recorded that year, 9,253 cases in 2022 and 7,911 cases between January and August this year,” said Comm Ramli.

“The top three types of scams reported are ecommerce scams, bogus loans and investment scams.

“Based on our statistics, cases of ecommerce scams reported greatly outnumber the other two types.

“In the past three years, 26,663 ecommerce scam cases were reported between January 2021 and August 2023 compared with 10,759 loan scams and 9,640 investment scams reported over the same period.”

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He added that while losses from ecommerce scams had been on the rise since 2021, the biggest increase was seen this year with RM144.82mil in losses recorded between January and August.

“The year has not even ended yet and already we have recorded a RM56.73mil increase in losses compared with the RM88.09mil recorded in 2022. In 2021, we recorded RM73.02mil in losses,” he said.

He added that between January and August this year, police arrested 3,659 suspects in connection with ecommerce scams.

Comm Ramli said cheating cases were becoming more challenging to curb, as technology had allowed scammers to go online.

“There is no more face-to-face between the victim and the perpetrator when it comes to online scams, which makes it tough for suspects to be identified and brought to justice.

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“There is room for us to improve ourselves. As online scams increase, we need to better equip ourselves with new laws that are more relevant to combat such scams,” he said, adding that he welcomed a multi-agency approach to tackle these new forms of crime.

When asked if the police were beefing up their strategies and equipment to combat scam syndicates, Comm Ramli said they were working with other agencies such as the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission as well as Bank Negara Malaysia.

“As criminals evolve, we, too, have to evolve in order to stay one step ahead of them. I will not elaborate on our strategies as it may open the door to the scam syndicates to alter their modus operandi, but rest assured that we are doing our part to fight them head to head.

“We are also part of the National Scam Response Centre (NSRC) and I must say that in terms of efficiency, it is quite effective,” he said.

He said anyone who feared that they have been scammed can contact the NSRC at 997 and action would be taken immediately.

Comm Ramli said there were some procedural matters being tweaked in order to make their efforts more proactive.

He added that their main aim was to retrieve the money for the victims.

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