KUALA LUMPUR: An average of 15 new investment scam cases were investigated daily this year, which resulted in over RM360mil in losses for the victims.
Federal Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) director Comm Datuk Seri Ramli Mohamed Yoosuf said a total of 4,435 cases were reported between January and October.
“The investment scams have reached RM364.5mil.
“It represents 20% of the total losses from commercial crime cases this year,” he told a press conference at CCID headquarters yesterday.
The number of investment scams this year showed an increase of 1,577 cases, or 54.1%, compared to the same period last year, while the number of losses showed a spike of 93.6%, he said.
Meanwhile, he said a total of 540 cases had been prosecuted so far.
Comm Ramli pointed out that the majority of investment scams were carried out online via social media platforms.
A study on those targeted by investment scam syndicates showed most victims this year were aged between 31 and 40, Comm Ramli said.
“A total of 1,099 victims are from this age group, followed by those aged between 41 and 50 (953 victims), between 21 and 30 (835), between 51 and 60 (815), above 60 (609) and between 15 and 20 (124),” he said.
According to Comm Ramli, the highest number of victims were from the private sector, with 1,880 individuals affected. This was followed by 298 civil servants, 762 housewives and 514 retirees.
Comm Ramli said investment scams had become more prevalent this year.
“While authorities are playing their part, I urge the public to be vigilant and wary of any investment offers, especially those promising high and fast returns.
“Verify any investment opportunity with the relevant authorities. If an investment offer is too good to be true, take it with a giant grain of salt,” Comm Ramli advised.
He said the police were informed of a new type of scam – the love investment scam – based on a finding by the Global Anti-Scam Organisation (GA-SO).
“The modus operandi is similar to a love scam, but the scammer will not ask for money directly from the victim.
“He will act as a mentor and tutor the victim on investment.
“After gaining the victim’s trust, the scammer will then ask for money, supposedly for investment purposes. In the end, the victim will be left high and dry,” Comm Ramli said.
On another matter, he said scammers were not only using mule account holders, but instead they were also using shell companies and fake businesses to move their ill-gotten gains.
“So far, we have detected 86 shell companies and 70 dubious businesses used by scam syndicates,” he said.
He said there was a need to impose stricter procedures and requirements when setting up businesses.
“Requirements such as checking for criminal and financial records should be considered as well by the relevant authorities,” he added.
Comm Ramli said stricter rules and regulations should also be imposed before any company or business could open a bank account.
“We hope the government can consider imposing the shared responsibility framework introduced by the Singaporean government to curb phishing scams.
“Through this framework, financial institutions that fail to play their part are liable to pay for the losses incurred by victims.”He also cited an example of an investment scam using the name of the Malaysia Investment Development Authority (Mida in Melaka on Nov 9.
“The victim suffered RM585,700 in losses after joining the investment scam, which promised high returns within three to six hours of investment.
“Initial investigations revealed that the syndicate has been operating since October last year via social media sites.
“They offered (purported) investments starting from RM300 until RM2,000,” he said.
Comm Ramli said 28 police reports had been lodged, involving losses of RM1.2mil.
“Mida has also issued a warning on its social media page and website of a syndicate using its name,” he said.