The Week That Was: Stay safe as scams spread


Semak Mule allows users to check if a bank account or mobile number has been used in a scam. — Bernama

AS cybercrimes are on the rise, the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) urged the public to use its Semak Mule service to avoid falling victim to scams.

The service allows users to check if a bank account or mobile number – theirs or others – has been used in a scam.

Last year, 28,508 online cheating cases involving 18,130 mule accounts cost RM2.5bil in losses, according to Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani.

Scammers use mule accounts – some set up with manipulated or stolen identities – to channel money illegally obtained from victims.

“We hope the public can make full use of the service so they do not become victims of scammers,” he said in a report, adding that scams are on the rise due to the popularity of online shopping.

The Semak Mule service is available via its website (tinyurl.com/yxhqvv2t) and app on the Play Store for Android devices.

The mobile app also lists the top 10 bank accounts and phone numbers used in scams.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) chairman Dr Fadhlullah Suhaimi Abdul Malek warned that parody accounts are now being widely used to spread fake news.

“A parody account is a social media account, especially on Twitter, with a name, brand or logo that is almost similar to a well-known body, organisation or dignitary. It is a new trend in delivering false news, to mock or insult,” he said in a report.

He added that those who are affected could take civil action against the account holders but admitted that as the platforms are based abroad, legal recourse may be limited.

“Those abroad are difficult to eliminate, but for individuals in the country, we are trying to use the approach of making our citizens to be morally conscious, that is, they can say what they like, but do not cheat. Freedom of speech, but not freedom to lie,” he added.

The regulatory body advised the public to be cautious so they are not easily fooled by parody accounts and to report them to it for further action.

MCMC, with the help of Twitter, recently managed to take down a parody account that used the logo and name of the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) to spread false news, he said.

On the bright side, the environmental non-governmental organisation (NGO) Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) has made an app to educate people on environmental issues and forest conservation.

MNS president Prof Dr Ahmad Ismail said in a report that the NGO wanted the public to know their actions can save the country’s rich biodiversity.

“We want them to know that simple acts such as segregating waste, recycling plastic, conserving water and electricity, avoiding littering or even sharing environmental care tutorial videos can contribute to clean waterways,” he said.

People could also use the app, available on the Play Store, to report environmental problems, wildlife found in their areas, give feedback and even apply for MNS membership, he added.

MNS has also proposed to work with Tourism Malaysia to promote ecotourism in Taman Negara in Pahang and the Belum-Temengor Forest Reserve in Perak.

“We want people to learn about our ecotourism attractions. For example, there are 10 hornbill species in Belum-Temengor that have been categorised as totally protected species under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Immigration Department launched the MyTravelPass online system to speed up the process of applying for entry or exit permits by Malaysians and foreigners.

Previously, the permits had to be applied via email, said Immigration director-general Datuk Indera Khairul Dzaimee Daud, which could take up to 10 days to be processed.

“The department has been swamped with 5,000 to 6,000 emails a day, causing a delay in the applications. We received many complaints from applicants because of this,” he said in a report.

Though the country’s international borders remain closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, those who fall under certain categories can apply for exemption.

Foreign expatriates and their dependants, permanent residents, Malaysia My Second Home holders and foreign maids, as well as those who have a long-term working arrangement in Singapore or need to travel for medical emergencies can apply via MyTravelPass. “Now it is easier to apply. Of course, the approval is another matter. Once the application is submitted, an email will be sent to acknowledge it.

“Within three to five days, the approval or rejection will be confirmed via email as well,” he said.

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