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Plans to fortify anti-scam centre


PETALING JAYA: With millions still being lost to scammers despite serious efforts by the authorities to combat the scourge, the government wants to beef up the body tasked with addressing fraud.

More than a year after its inception, the National Scam Response Centre (NSRC) has yet to be the one-stop anti-scam centre it was meant to be, according to its deputy director Kamal Baharin Omar.

The agency, he said, is in the midst of preparing an official paper on the need to consolidate the anti-scam operations of its four main components – the Royal Malaysia Police, Bank Negara Malaysia, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, and National Anti-Financial Crime Centre.

The NSRC was set up in October 2022 to streamline coordination between agencies for a rapid response to online financial scams.

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“The NSRC is still a work in progress. While the current setup does allow for quick response from NSRC components to track the money trail, it is not enough as scammers are very much ahead of the curve in the way they operate,” he said in an interview.

For now, he said, the NSRC and the four main agencies work together with financial institutions and telecommunications companies to combat online financial fraud by coordinating their actions and assisting in analysing all the collected data for further action.Kamal Baharin: ‘Prevention is definitely more effective than cure.’
Kamal Baharin: ‘Prevention is definitely more effective than cure.’


Under the paper being prepared, Kamal Baharin said the NSRC will have its operations enhanced by a formal structure with permanent posts.

“The posts mean having officials to handle budget, office affairs and other relevant resources such as a system so that it can be a full-fledged one-stop centre for all online anti-scam operations,” he said.

Initially, the NSRC was formed as an enhancement to the scam centre established by the police’s Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) to work together with Bank Negara.

“In the current setup, the NSRC’s main role is to initiate quick response by all the relevant agencies once a complaint is received via our 997 hotline, particularly to track the money trail and subsequently freeze it if the money is still within the banking system.

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“With this, there would be a high chance that the said stolen money would be returned to the victim when the probe is completed,” he said.

Kamal Baharin said that at the same time, the NSRC will be able to identify suspected mule bank accounts and phone numbers and to take the necessary action.

“Such action includes putting them under the CCID’s SemakMule list that can be accessed by the public as well as blacklisting and blocking them – individuals or companies’ numbers – from being further used.”

In addition, all police reports lodged by complainants after calling 997 will be closely monitored by the CCID, he added.

He said all this should go in tandem with promoting anti-scam awareness among the public, with the cooperation of all stakeholders as well as the media.

ALSO READ: Beware of scammers pretending to be the good guys

“Prevention is definitely more effective than cure,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bank Negara said that as part of its efforts to strengthen the NSRC, it is pushing for financial institutions such as banks to undertake “more robust fraud investigations”.

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“Bank Negara is reviewing existing requirements and mechanisms on handling financial scams by financial institutions,” it said in a statement.

The central bank also said to further strengthen NSRC processes as well as its fraud detection and fund-tracing capabilities, it was leveraging on technology through the development of the National Fraud Portal (NFP), set to be launched this year.

These measures, it said, have since been expanded to large electronic money issuers.

“Bank Negara recently issued a set of fraud-detection standards to enhance financial institutions’ capability to detect suspicious transactions on a real-time basis,” it added.

The central bank also said the enactment of the Digital Safety Bill will enable rapid response to stop the spread of fake messages in online channels.

“This is critical to curb the misuse of social media platforms that abet impersonation scams such as the Macau Scam, fake job advertisements or illegitimate investments.”

Bank Negara also said it will continue to undertake education and outreach programmes with the banking industry, the police and CyberSecurity Malaysia to “advocate good cyber hygiene practices among the Malaysian public”.

“More discerning customers remain the best line of defence,” it added.

Currently, victims of scams can contact the dedicated hotlines set up by their respective banks (available 24/7) or contact the NSRC at 997, which operates from 8am to 8pm daily including on public holidays.

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