RM3.8bil transferred overseas by scam syndicates, says Bukit Aman CCID chief

KUALA LUMPUR: A total of RM3.8bil was transferred to bank accounts in 43 countries via 15 trading entities believed to be shell companies set up by scammers.

Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) director Comm Datuk Seri Ramli Mohamed Yoosuf said the transactions were conducted from 2021 till late 2023.

ALSO READ: Many still falling prey to investment scams

"We believe funds transferred were the ill-gotten gains from scams. The companies were used by scam syndicates to transfer funds received by duping victims.

"It is the latest tactic of scammers to set up shell companies to move funds overseas," he told a press conference after launching the Semak Mule 2.0 portal and app on Sunday (March 3).

Scam syndicates opted to use such a tactic to enable large funds to be transferred overseas more frequently without restriction, he said.

"For example, there is one company supposedly trading in electrical items, which transferred RM1.9bil overseas. We believe scammers were behind the company as their funds and profits could not be verified," he said.

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In some of the 15 companies identified, even the board of directors did not realise that the company was a mule or shell company being used by scam syndicates, Comm Ramli said.

"There is also a company which almost completely shut its operations once the funds had been completely transferred to another country.

"Even if the company still exists, it will be dormant," he said.

Comm Ramli said there is a need to impose stricter procedures and requirements in 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 bank accounts.

"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 said.

Meanwhile, on the Semakmule 2.0 portal, Comm Ramli said the emergence of shell companies required the portal to be improved upon by listing the names of shell companies being used by scam syndicates.

"Users will be able to do searches on companies that might be involved in commercial crimes, especially scams. It will assist users to decide whether to go through with a particular transaction or not. So far, 107 companies have been listed in the portal," he said.

The Semakmule portal was initially launched in 2020; it lists the mule accounts and phone numbers used by scam syndicates.

"So far, 193,000 mule accounts and 164,000 phone numbers used by scammers have been listed in the portal.

"Some 24.9mil visitors have logged in to the portal and about 1.9mil of the searches have been positive, meaning transactions to the mule accounts were prevented," he said.

Comm Ramli hoped that the public will be able to fully utilise the improved Semakmule portal to prevent being victims of scams.

"We will never relent on enforcement efforts against scam syndicates but we hope the public can play its part by staying vigilant. One of the ways to be careful is to check and verify bank accounts, companies and phone numbers using the Semakmule portal," he said.

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