Cops cracking down on mule accounts to curb rise in cybercrimes

BY KENNETH TEE
Commercial CID Director Datuk Seri Amar Singh Ishar Singh speaks during a press conference at Menara KPJ in Kuala Lumpur March 5, 2018. —Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, March 5 — With the rise of cybercrimes, the police have launched a nationwide crackdown on mule accounts in a bid to cripple syndicates involved in fraudulent activities.

Federal Commercial Crime Investigations Department (CCID) director Commissioner Datuk Seri Amar Singh said a total of 44 account holders involved in 319 cases with a recorded loss of RM17.29 million have been detained since the operation commenced last Thursday.

All of those picked up were aged between 21 and 57, with 27 of the suspects being women.

Mule accounts are local bank accounts used by syndicate members comprised of mostly foreigners to withdraw and deposit their illicit gains from frauds.

“Most of the account holders are housewives who were tricked into giving their bank details to be misuse by the scammers impersonating as a love interest.

“Some of them are aware of the ongoing scam by allowing the suspects to use their account to deposit money,” Amar said at the federal CCID headquarters here.

The police said at least 40 per cent of commercial crime cases reported involved common cybercrimes such as the Macau Scam, African Scam and E-Financial Fraud (online shopping scams).

Amar said in 2016, 12,766 out of 32,871 cases (39 per cent) involved cybercrime, increasing to 13,714 out of 30,612 cases (44.7 per cent) last year.

“For the first quarter of 2018, we have 42.6 per cent of similar cases reported involving at least RM60million in losses,” he said.

Statistics also showed that 1,072 accounts were involved in 1,247 cases last year, compared to 973 accounts involving 1,033 cases in 2016.

He said police identified such accounts after receiving at least five reports involving the three modus operandi concerning the account in question.

“We urged the public not to be easily swayed by individuals by offering them their bank account details as they can be arrested for criminal abetment.

“We will also be going after accounts that have been reported at least two to three times to leave no stone unturned as it is an ongoing operation,” he said.

Malaysians can visit the official federal CCID portal, http://ccid.rmp.gov.my/semakmule/ to check the status of a blacklisted mule account before making any financial transactions.

Fraudulent accounts that have been reported to the police at least once will be automatically blacklisted on the portal’s database.