PDRM Advises Public To Be On Alert Mode For Mule Account Trap

In 2023, ordinary Malaysians from all walks of life lost a total of RM1.3 billion from online scams involving 33,324 cases, as released by the National Scam Response Centre in January 2024. This huge amount of losses is largely enabled by mule accounts under the control of online scam syndicates. PDRM, the nation’s primary law enforcement agency responsible for tackling crimes have their work cut out for them. Mule accounts are accounts owned by ordinary people that these scammers have commandeered, with the account holders either complicit with the scammers as they rent out their accounts, or unknowingly, duped by the scammers in their various nefarious schemes.

During the recent Sasana Simposium 2024, the Polis Diraja Malaysia (PDRM) and Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) collaborated to conduct a seminar titled Empowering Youth in the Digital Payment Landscape: Decoding Mule Account.

ASP Muhamad Aizat from PDRM and Mr Vijayadurai from BNM discussing about the rampant Mule Account Trap and its ramifications on the unsuspecting public. Photo credit: Danny Liew.
ASP Muhamad Aizat from PDRM and Mr Vijayadurai from BNM discussing about the rampant Mule Account Trap and its ramifications on the unsuspecting public. Photo credit: Danny Liew.

Representing PDRM was ASP Muhamad Aizat bin Shukor from Bukit Aman’s Commercial Crime Division intelligence section. Vijayadurai a/l Singgatore represented BNM.

According to ASP Muhamad Aizat, the number of mule accounts had increased from 17,000 cases in 2019 to about 34,000 cases in 2023. This figure may exceed further in 2024, with 19,000 cases recorded from January to May 2024.

PDRM Explains On Mule Accounts

ASP Muhamad Aizat explained that mule accounts are accounts that scammers or other unscrupulous individuals have manipulated to commit their nefarious activities. The manipulation can be as simple as asking a person to borrow their account to buy goods or receive money or as complex as taking over an unwitting person’s banking or eWallet accounts. They would use these accounts to commit fraudulent transactions or layer and integrate stolen funds into the financial system.

He reminded attendees that individuals who unwittingly allowed others to use their accounts are liable for the actions of these scammers. They could find themselves prosecuted by the law under Section 424 of the Penal Code, where they could land in jail for five years.

Additionally, these individuals may find banks closing their accounts and barring them from opening accounts in the future. Even worse, many companies have resorted to checking with the police before hiring a new employee.

Despite the dark outlook, he advised individuals who had gotten tricked by these individuals to report their unwitting participation to the police. The move would help the police to investigate these incidents.

Scam Red Flags

On other matters, he advised the public to be wary of scam red flags. Amongst others, he pointed out that scammers often make too-good-to-be-true offers. Most recently, some scammers are ‘offering’ RM10 durian king offers.  

When asked if it is advisable to engage in small talk with Macau scam calls, he discouraged the public from engaging them as some scammers would have gleaned the caller’s information from social media accounts, which would make it easy for them to crack the victims, whereas the victims do not know them. Additionally, he advised not to accept these calls if possible, as the scammers may record the voice to replicate it using AI.

On the safety of buying from online sales platforms, he advises the public to avoid accepting offers from these merchants to contact the merchants off-platform, either via WhatsApp or SMS, as these online platforms monitor these on-platform chats to prevent undetected scammers from misusing the platform.

He also urged participants to share with their friends and families to help combat the scourge. – NMH

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Danny Liew
Danny Liew is a freelance writer with extensive experience in defence, geopolitics, and economics for about 20 years. He contributes to the Perajurit defence portal, Malaysia Military Power (MMP), amongst others.

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