September 22, 2008

Cyber Crooks Pose As Businessmen

By Rina De Silva

KUALA LUMPUR: Many cyber crooks are making Malaysia their base and have entered the country under the guise of being students or doing business.

Commenting on the New Sunday Times' front-page report on cyber crooks yesterday, president of the Malaysian Chapter of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, Akhbar Satar, confirmed that many foreign cyber crooks were operating in Malaysia.

He said 74 advance-fee fraud cases, the latest type of cyberscam, were reported to the association from the beginning of last year till this month. Seventeen of them were Malaysians who had paid millions to the cyber crooks.

Akhbar said many cyber crooks made their base here because of the lack of enforcement, lenient visa procedures and good Internet service.

The New Sunday Times reported RM2.7 million had been lost in the past eight months to advance-fee fraud.

It was reported that one woman lost RM1.3 million deposited in five separate bank accounts for a man she met online to help release goods held with the Customs Department.

Akhbar said cyber crooks usually posed as businessmen involved in scrap metals and spare parts. They would demand advance payment of between 30 and 50 per cent.

To convince their victims, the crooks would provide their full name, address and prepaid handphone number.

However, the names and addresses would turn out to be false while the telephone number was untraceable.

"One address even included a line `Tingkat Bawah off Jalan Tun Perak'."

He said to appear genuine, the cyber crooks would not only send their business cards but also a copy of their passports via the Internet.

Meetings would also be set up if requested.

The meetings would usually take place in five-star hotels and the cyber crooks would arrive in expensive cars.

"These people usually have good communication skills and are well- groomed."

Once they received the advance payment, the cyber crooks would disappear and move on to the next victim.

The Association of Computer and Multimedia Industry Malaysia said many fell victim to cyber scams as the Internet was still a relatively new phenomenon.

Its chairman, David Wong, said only 16 per cent of the country's 26 million population were Internet users.

As a result, many were unable to spot Internet scams.

Wong advised Internet users not to divulge personal information like credit card numbers, bank account numbers and identity card numbers to people they had befriended online.

He warned that cyberscam syndicates were made up of professionals who knew how to tempt people of their money.

Wong believed many victims might not have reported their cases out of embarrassment and thought the police would not take their cases seriously.

"Society will be wiser and literate about issues such as cyber scams when Internet penetration grows."

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