RM3.8bil taken abroad since 2021

KUALA LUMPUR: Some RM3.8bil has been transferred out of Malaysia via shell companies set up by scam syndicates, according to the police.

The money, believed to be ill-gotten gains derived from funds belonging to scam victims, went to different bank accounts in 43 countries between 2021 and 2023.

It is learnt that the setting up of the business entities had allowed the syndicates to move large funds overseas easier and more frequently.

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“This is the latest tactic of scammers moving funds overseas,” said Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department director Comm Datuk Seri Ramli Mohamed Yoosuf.

He said the discovery had led police to track down 15 companies, suspected to be opened by the scammers.

“Scam syndicates are using such a tactic to enable large funds to be transferred out more frequently without restrictions,” he told a press conference after launching the Semak Mule 2.0 portal here yesterday.

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Comm Ramli said one of the companies, which was supposedly involved in electrical item trading, had transferred out RM1.9bil.

“We believe scammers are behind it because the fund could not be verified,” he said.

In some of the 15 identified firms, he said even the board of directors did not realise that the entities were being used as “mules” by the syndicates.

“There is also a company, which shut its operations almost entirely once it has finished transferring the money to another country.

“Even if the company still exists, it is in dormant state,” he added.

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Comm Ramli said there was a need to impose stricter procedures and requirements in setting up businesses and opening company accounts at banks.

He said requirements such as checking for criminal and financial records should also be considered by the relevant authorities.

“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, which failed to play their part, are liable to pay for the losses incurred by victims,” he suggested.

On Semak Mule 2.0, Comm Ramli said the portal had been improved to include the list of shell companies used by scam syndicates.

“So far, 107 companies have been listed.

“The public can do a search on entities involved in commercial crimes, especially scams. This will help them to decide before making any transactions,” he said.

When it was launched in 2020, the portal only contained the list of mule accounts and phone numbers used by scam syndicates.

Four years down the road, it now has 193,000 mule accounts and 164,000 phone numbers.

In the past five years, Comm Ramli said online scam cases had shown a significant spike, from 17,668 cases in 2019 to 34,495 cases in 2023.

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