Almost 72,000 online scams in the country caused victims to lose a whopping RM5.2 billion in the past two years.
Meta Malaysia country director Nicole Tan said the top five most prevalent online scams were e-commerce, illegal loans, jobs, investment schemes and money muling.
She said from 2020 to May this year, the police’s Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) recorded 71,833 fraud cases, with losses amounting to more than RM5.2 billion.
Of the total cases, 48,850, or 68 per cent, of them involved online scams, said Tan.
“E-commerce scams recorded 5,851 cases in 2020, 9,569 cases last year and 3,833 cases up to May this year.
“The Domestic Trade and Consumers Affairs Ministry received 24,018 complaints regarding online fraud and electronic media scams during the Covid-19 pandemic — from 2020 to Feb 17 this year, involving losses amounting to RM21.7 million.
“Continuing user education is important to avoid falling into the trap of such highly efficient scammers and hackers.
“We want to encourage people to come forward and report, so there will not be more scam victims,” she said at the launch of the #TakNakScam campaign at Kuala Lumpur Hilton here.
The event, held in collaboration with several enforcement and consumer agencies, was officiated by Domestic Trade and Consumers Affairs Ministry secretary-general Datuk Azman Mohd Yusof.
Present was police CCID deputy director (cyber crimes and multimedia) Senior Assistant Commissioner Victor Sanjos.
“New consumer behaviours around online buying and browsing habits that emerged during the pandemic will remain entrenched among Malaysians.
“We recognise that more Malaysians are going online to build meaningful connections with people, communities and businesses they love.
“Together with our partners, Meta is committed to providing safety tools and resources so that Malaysians can stay safe on our platforms,” said Tan.
Meta’s #TakNakScam campaign was launched in July last year with the aim of creating awareness and educating the public on how to spot, check and report deceptive tactics employed by scammers via Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.
The campaign, which ran for five months, was well received by the public and had a total reach of 2.3 million and 105,000 link clicks via various social online campaign channels.
“During the campaign period, there was a downward trend in the number of scam cases reported.
“At Meta, our purpose is to help people connect with each other and better engage with the world around them,” said Tan.
Nicole said augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) could give people a glimpse of the possible immersive experiences.
CCID’s Superintendent Madhavan Nair said among the challenges faced by investigators was the unwillingness of victims to come forward to make a report.
“People may sometimes feel ashamed to report that they have been scammed and this dampens police efforts to track these scammers down,” he said.
He said of the 48,850 online scams reported since 2020, 26,213 cases have been prosecuted in court.
Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission consumer and industry affairs head Eneng Faridah Iskandar Sastrawidjaja said between 2018 and 2021, the agency had blocked 1.6 billion suspicious calls from reaching Malaysians.
Securities Commission Malaysia’s consumer and investor general manager Jawahar Ali Ameer Ali said it was unfortunate that scammers capitalised on fears and hardship, stemming from major crises like Covid-19 to manipulate the public.
Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association senior manager Baskaran Sithamparam said social media platforms had provided a lifeline to consumers and businesses during the pandemic.
“It is unfortunate that there are many who are using them to cheat guileless consumers.
“This #TakNakScam campaign is timely, as more people go digital, they need to be more aware of the tactics used by scammers so that they can protect themselves,” he said. – NST ONLINE