Mr Danny only realised that he got scammed after transferring the money
Mr Danny (not his real name) was tricked into performing an online transfer to a third-party account by a scammer. Mr Danny received a call purportedly from a bank that his account has been hacked. To safeguard his savings, he was required to transfer his money into an account with the authority. Danny followed the instructions and transferred the entire balances from his savings account. Danny later realised that he was scammed.
This is a common scenario that leaves consumers especially the vulnerable to scams.
What types of scams are there?
Phishing is an attempt by a fraudster in disguise to obtain personal or sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, credit card details via SMS, telephone call, email, website, social media, or any electronic communication.
Most consumers fall victim by responding to either emails or links purportedly from financial service providers (FSP) or by accessing the FSP’s internet banking portal via search engines instead of manually typing the Universal Resource Locater (URL) in the internet browser. The victims also neither check nor validate the security image or phrase/caption before entering the password.
The victims would enter their username and password to log into an internet banking portal which looked identical to the bank’s portal and subsequently entered a Transaction Authorisation Code (TAC) which was received through their mobile phone. The information was used by the fraudster to perform unauthorised transactions without the victim’s knowledge.
Phone Scam (‘Macau’)
The ‘Macau’ scammer usually pretends to be a policeman, banker, or a tax officer with the objective of instilling fear in vulnerable consumers and compel the victims to pay money to keep them from getting into trouble with the law.
The latest modus operandi of such scam includes fraudsters posing as the local post delivery services and claiming that a package meant for the victim is withheld at the Malaysian airport customs. The victims are required to settle the customs duties before the parcel can be released.
‘Scratch and Win’ Scam
Scams involving ‘scratch and win’ are usually targeted at vulnerable consumers who are generally senior citizens. The victims were duped into believing that they had won a brand-new car and a cash prize. In most instances, the victims were approached by fraudsters usually at hypermarket car parks. The victims were very convinced that they had a windfall and handed over their credit card(s) and PIN to claim the purported cash prizes.
The fraudsters then perform cash withdrawals up to the maximum credit card limit through the credit card. As the card and PIN were compromised, the FSPs are unable to pay the claim.
What are the common disputes related to scams received by OFS?
As of 31st August 2020, OFS received a total 71 cases related to scams. In 2019, about 16% of the registered banking cases were pertaining to online transactions where consumers were deceived into revealing their banking credentials to third parties through social engineering scams.
Consumers were guided into performing these transactions including unknowingly changing their registered mobile numbers to the fraudster’s number at the ATM. In doing so, the One Time Passwords (OTPs) were routed to the fraudsters’ mobile number which then enabled online transactions to be carried out without the knowledge of the victims.
Based on OFS’ findings, the alleged unauthorised transactions were performed with the complainant’s credit or debit card numbers and card verification value (CVV) numbers with the OTPs sent by the bank to the complainant’s registered mobile in order to complete the online transactions. The most common disputes were related to purchases of online games, uploading software applications and e-wallet top-ups.
How can you avoid from being scammed?
The modus operandi of scammers is continuously changing and evolving. People of all ages and educational background can be a target of scammers.
Scammers would try and build trust over time and create pressure on victims to share their banking credentials or to transfer money. One must always exercise vigilance to avoid falling prey to scams be it in person, via phone or through online.
What should you do if you become a scam victim?
When should you contact OFS?