The next call then comes in. This time it is apparently from Bukit Aman. The caller says they are going to freeze all your bank accounts pending the police investigation. You panic.
You double check the phone numbers and they appear to be the genuine as they match the ones listed on the agencies’ websites.
What do you do?
You ask the so-called “police” if there is any way to “selesai” (settle) the matter. They say they are willing to help you transfer all your money out before all your accounts are frozen, but that it had to be done immediately. They provide you with account numbers the money can be transferred into.
You believe them. After all, it is the “police” and you think your money is safe.
And that is how one victim found himself devoid of his life savings of RM3 million.
This is the latest cyber scam that is robbing victims of millions in the country and causing Commercial Crime Investigation Department’s Cyber and Multimedia Investigation Division assistant director ACP Mohd Kamarudin Md Din a headache.
“We are scared of this spoofing of your caller identification. We have been struggling with this for the last three years,” Kamarudin told theantdaily.
Last year alone saw 787 cases being investigated with losses amounting to over RM19.6 million for this “spoofing phone scam”.
From January to August this year, there were 533 cases investigated involving losses of over RM8.9 million.
Kamarudin is especially worried as this involves the hard-earned money of individuals and not commercial money.
He said the calls would always feature the actual numbers of the agencies calling such as Bank Negara, Bukit Aman, Unifi, credit card agencies and so on, with one major difference – the calls are not actually from any of these places.
“This is one of the features in VOIP [voice over Internet protocol] where you can type these numbers and it appears as if the call is coming from that number.
“They will then ask you to call another number, also a VOIP number. When you call that number, it will say, ‘Thank you for calling Bank Negara’. This is actually a copy of the Bank Negara answering machine recording,” said Kamarudin.
The famous Malaysian mentality of asking if there is any way to “selesai” the matter, such as the ever-present bribing to escape traffic summonses, would then set in.
“This is what I don’t understand about the public. If you don’t owe any of these organisations any money, why are you worried? Let the law run its course,” said Kamarudin.
Preying on this “selesai” attitude, the syndicate would tell you that they are going to freeze your accounts but that before they do, they would give you the chance to transfer all your money out to another account.
“They would have hundreds of accounts ready for you and they will ask you to key in one of the account numbers. This will be followed by them asking you to tear up the banking slip, and I don’t know why but the victim will actually do this. Then they don’t even know which account they transferred the money into,” said Kamarudin.
The syndicate will also make sure there is no room for the victim to consult anyone.
“My friend received a spoofed call and when he tried to call and consult someone, all the numbers he called ended up being engaged. The syndicate messes with the phone lines and makes sure you can’t get through to anyone else to obtain a second opinion,” said Kamarudin.
He said gullibility knew no bounds as the victims of these scams came from all walks of life.
However, for some strange reason, Kamarudin said the Chinese were more prone to falling prey to this scam.
“This is one of the difficult areas for us now. The issue is that we do not know where the call centre is located but it is believed to be located overseas.
“This is also a powerful tool. What if you receive a call from the prime minister’s number asking for a donation when actually it is a call from the syndicate? Will the public question that?” he asked.
Kamarudin has this advice for the public: “When you receive such calls, stay calm. Get the name and position of the person calling you. If you are not sure, call them back. Be inquisitive and meticulous.
“They get scared when you ask questions as they are trained to answer questions according to a script. They panic and can’t answer anything out of the script. It is always better to be safe than sorry.”