KUALA LUMPUR – With a whopping RM 309.67 million in losses reported through cyber crimes in the first seven months of this year, there seems to be no let-up in online scams in the country, said Malaysia Cyber Consumer Association (MCCA) president Siraj Jalil.

This figure is alarming compared to the RM 398.6 million in losses recorded for the whole of 2018, with numerous reports of Malaysians becoming victims of scams and parting with their money and valuables.

It is not about fools parting with their money and valuables; the sweet-talking perpetrators are masters in their game of conning the innocent and naive netizens.

MCCA, set up last year to advocate the rights of internet users in the country, found that apart from love scams, the perpetrators are also into parcel scams which caused some victims to lose between RM 200,000 and RM 1 million in retrieving promised lavish ‘gifts’.

“The trending parcel scam is a kind of scam that starts with an email in your messenger sent by foreigners who claim to have a family member in Malaysia or is willing to visit Malaysia. Then after numerous personal exchanges, the victim is asked to accept a parcel containing money or luxurious gifts,” he said

This scam is tied closely to love scams where scammers use personal and emotional interactions to get into the subconscious minds of their victims and gain their trust.

Siraj further stated that these scammers, mostly Nigerians, tend to establish relationships with local women and trick them into being their accomplices to commit cyber crimes.

The problem starts a few days after accepting the ‘parcel’, where the victims will receive calls purportedly from the customs department or financial institutions insisting that they pay big sums in order to retrieve the parcel or else they would have to deal with the consequences.

“They will even make use of local women to act as the intermediary asking victims for processing fees and scare the victims that if they don’t pay up they will be dealt with by the authorities,” he said.

Asked why even professionals fell prey, Siraj said it is because they tend to be heavy users of social media but lack information and awareness on such scams.

“Professionals such as doctors and nurses tend to have less social life due to their busy work schedule. Thus they tend to use the social media often to share what’s going on in their lives. With their personal life exposed and without much knowledge on the scammers’ ploy, they become easy prey,” he said.

Siraj pointed out that it is not only individuals who lose money to cyber crimes as the country too suffers economic losses.

“The loses due to cyber crimes keep increasing and these figures may negatively affect the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country,” he said.

MCCA noted that while the Malaysian government is serious in tackling the problem, it is still far behind in the preventive aspect, including in education and awareness.

He pointed out that SIM cards for mobile communications and data were easily available at convenience store, even to foreigners, providing easy internet access for perpetrators to carry out their schemes.

Siraj also said laws governing cyber crimes and communications, focusing on email contents, have to be tightened and cyber consumers need to be made more aware of the bad side of the internet.

For the safety of internet consumers, Siraj said, they could start by deleting any kind of spam mails that offer expensive parcels and also avoid communicating with suspicious emails or messages.