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By Karen Bong
KUCHING, March 19: Malaysians, including Sarawakians, lost about RM109.4 million to 3,597 scam cases from November 2018 to February this year.
According to the Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID), the top three most common frauds Malaysians kept falling for were non-existent loan scam, telecommunication scam (Macau scam) and online shopping (e-commerce).
Ministry of Communications and Multimedia deputy secretary-general (Policy) Shakib Shakir said that in Sarawak alone, there were 54 telecommunication fraud cases, resulting in RM395,589 in losses, 31 Macau scams (RM1.4 million) and 27 e-commerce cases (RM152,167).
“In the past few weeks, shocking news about Sarawakians being cheated by jobs syndicate, with the first case involving workers being detained in Cambodia, followed by those stranded in Liberia, Africa, left us all stunned with the seriousness of the problem of human trafficking,” he told reporters after opening the Cyber Crime and Anti-Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Talk at Auditorium RTM here today.
“Before this, we assumed that the problem is isolated, but the truth is that it is a heinous crime that can destroy lives, families and communities.”
He pointed out the negative impacts on the eight Sarawakians looking for jobs in the logging sector in Liberia. They had to eat papaya leaves to survive before getting help from Malaysians working with Sime Darby.
“There is also the case of Macau scam, which is happening frequently and where professionals are also among the victims. This shows how skilled and cunning cybercriminals are in deceiving, tricking and stealing from gullible people.”
Shakib also shared that according to the Anti-Human Trafficking and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Council (MAPO), there were 1,360 cases of trafficked people placed in shelter homes last year.
“Majority of the cases involved sexual exploitation and forced labour, while other cases involved illegal activities, forced begging, wages not being paid and employment scam.”
Even though there was a decrease in human trafficking cases from 427 cases in 2017 to 303 in 2018, while arrests dropped from 676 (2017) to 395 (2018), he, however, stressed that the number of suspects and victims involved in the last two years remained high, at 5,940.
On the talk programme, Shakib said it was part of the ministry’s commitment to educate and create greater awareness of the gravity of the problem among the public so they could avoid and protect themselves from falling victims to all kinds of online and offline frauds.
“The focus should be given to retirees, middle-aged people, career women, school students and graduates.”
Hence, Shakib hoped the awareness and prevention talk could provide information, understanding and insight that could be shared with communities across the country.
“Such efforts are important to help people avoid getting taken in by dangerous Internet scams or other cunning offline scams, including credit card fraud, as well as identity and data theft. These crimes are serious threats to our people, duping out their hard-earned money.”
The ministry has implemented the Cyber Crime campaign that has three key themes — ‘Cyber Crime, Phone Scam, and Love Scam’ — as well as hashtags #ScamAlert and #JanganTerpedaya to serve as reminders to the people.
He also called for full support and proactive actions from various parties to ensure the continued success of the campaign, considering the fact that both cyber and human trafficking crimes were showing an increasing and worrying trend. — DayakDaily