Malaysia becomes Internet Scam Haven

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Malaysia becomes Internet Scam Haven

MALAYSIAN ROMANCE SCAMSAmerican Women Targeted

Malaysia Becomes Internet Scam Haven

KUALA LUMPUR
Source Reuters

Hundreds of American women are being ensnared by Internet scammers based in Malaysia, with some losing over a quarter of a million dollars, as the country becomes an epicentre for online crime perpetrated by Africans, US officials say.

The mostly Nigerian conmen, who enter Malaysia on student visas, take advantage of the country's good Internet infrastructure to prey on lonely, middle-aged women, wooing them on dating websites before swindling their savings, they said.

The scams are more sophisticated than most Nigeria-based operations - which most Internet users have experienced at some time either via email or advertising - helped by Malaysia's advanced banking system, which allows perpetrators to quickly set up accounts and receive international transfers.

U.S. officials say Malaysian police lack the resources and expertise to tackle the problem and have yet to launch a single prosecution of a case involving a US victim.

Malaysian police were reported by local media last December as saying that the number of Internet scam cases more than doubled in 2013 with total losses of more than US$11mil (RM35mil). A total of 476 Africans had been apprehended for suspected involvement, the report said.

Malaysian police and the Nigerian embassy in Kuala Lumpur did not respond to Reuters' request for comment. A spokesman for Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission said he was not aware of scammers operating in Malaysia, but added they were known to have international networks.

Tim Scherer, consul-general at the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, told Reuters that complaints about such scams now made up more than 80% of inquiries to duty officers at the mission, with a dozen new cases reported every week.

Citizens of Australia, Canada and Europe had also been targeted, he said.

"These are not rich widows who are being preyed on, these are middle-class Americans who don't have this kind of money to spare," he said. "It can really transform their lives in a very terrible way."

The embassy estimates that US victims are losing several million dollars a year, with two women in the past 12 months losing more than US$250,000 (RM795,000) each. There are more than 600 cases a year, and the amount lost by each victim averages in the tens of thousands of dollars, it said.

The actual figure of total losses is probably far higher, Scherer said, because many victims are too embarrassed to come forward or do not know who to contact. He said the scammers were highly sophisticated, often grooming victims for months and using convincing techniques such as forging letters purportedly from the US ambassador in Malaysia.

Fake romance

Large teams of scammers typically trawl dating or Christian websites and contact middle-aged women, the US officials said. They pretend to be a Western man who then gets into legal or business difficulties in Muslim-majority Malaysia.

One US victim told Reuters she transferred a total of$260,000 (RM825,000) to Malaysia, where the man who claimed to love her said he was being prevented from returning to the US by Malaysian bureaucracy - which required hefty payments to negotiate.

The 59-year-old widow from Phoenix, Arizona, who declined to be identified, said she had gone heavily into debt to make the payments to "Charles", and even flew to Malaysia in March to meet him. He never showed up, but a European woman claiming to be his lawyer managed to bilk another $25,000 (RM79,500) out of the woman before she returned to Arizona.

Another victim, a women in her late 50s in the eastern United States, said she sent her life savings of US$300,000 (RM951,000) over two months to a Malaysia-based "American" man she met on dating site Match.com, three years after her husband died.

"I felt like I was in love with this man and we'd be moving forward with a life together real soon," she told Reuters.

Match.com did not respond to a Reuters request for comment. Along with other major US-based dating sites, it features prominent warnings about scammers, specifically telling users to be wary of people who say they are Americans based abroad.

Student scam

The conmen have exploited Malaysia's drive to become a global education hub, securing student visas to attend college, the US officials said.

Malaysia has pursued a policy of attracting international students for more than a decade, allowing dozens of foreign colleges to set up Malaysian campuses.

Scherer said it was likely that many of the Nigerians in Malaysia were not genuine students. As of March, there were 9,146 Nigerians on student visas in Malaysia, the education ministry said, out of 123,000 overseas students in total.

"Once in the country as students, there's very little effort to verify their studies," Scherer said.

An official with Malaysia's education ministry said that last year it tightened its vetting and tracking of overseas students.

"We are aware of problems with some international students, especially Nigerians," the official said.

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Romance Scams Now™ is the world's leading private anti-scams organization. RSN™ is based in Miami Florida & Cincinnati Ohio. It's founder was involved in combating online fraud since 1991. As of July 2017, Romance Scams Now is now a privately funded division of the Society of Citizens Against Romance Scams [SCARS]. The RSN website and all of our publications (including social media) are maintained by our own staff to provide the most up to date information about active scammers from around the world and how to avoid them or recover from them available anywhere. Be sure to use our search feature to locate scammers you may suspect or to report them here. Our goal is to prepare you to live in a world full of online scammers and risks, so that you can remain safe! And seriously, be sure to report scammers here! Also visit our Facebook page for unique INFORMATION not found on our site. RSN is official Scam Avoidance Education & Scam Victims' Assistance & Support Division of SCARS™ - the Society of Citizens Against Romance Scams a nonprofit organization (NGO) dedicated to advocating victim's causes and changing government and law enforcement attitudes toward online fraud for good! Please join us in becoming a member of SCARS - it's free! Add you voice so that the world will listen at last! www.AgainstRomanceScams.org

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By | 2017-04-11T01:56:01+00:00 March 10th, 2015|Anti-Scam Alert, Malaysian Scams, Male, Scammers|

3 Comments

  1. Wilma McWhirter March 18, 2017 at 3:22 pm - Reply

    I met a man on the dating site by the name of Kurt Weller I had recently lost my husband and was lonely , and did not know how to start a new life for myself I met Kurt at first you could not have ask for a sweeter more kind person and he said he had a job in Egypt well he needed money at first it was on a pay back as soon as he got back to the States I thought I was in love with him and willing to help him until he had scammed me out of a very large sum of money and it never stops and he never comes home to me as he promised . I found out he also goes by Russell Johnson , Raymond Coolman , Dehart Walker and
    I am sure many more names I recently on ourtime .com his picture popped up on it with the user name Red1954hot the same picture he had sent to me . He says he is in Cairo ,Egypt and wanted more money sent to a Adenisan Rukayat Busola
    in Cairo ,Egypt which I did not send . I need to find out if this man is on a list of names somewhere before he scams someone else.

  2. Elyana Adelle June 19, 2016 at 1:28 am - Reply

    Recently hv Porn Scam with Facebook Name : Adelle Elyana, We Chat ID : salakau363, declare as Malay Sabah Girl, provide escort service in Pg, RM200 for 1 Day with 1 Night, RM120 for 1 Hour 1 Shot. Bank In 1st to her Boss CIMB Account 8007419877 Name : Christianus Moses, to get her service. Cheating People with Porn Scam. Beware everybody. Don't be Next Victim. Hope Police Malaysia can catch them, Porn Scam Group in Pg. TQ.

  3. Anonymous December 10, 2015 at 9:09 pm - Reply

    CAN YOU LOOK FOR A SUPPOSED CHRIS DAVE , THE ADDRESS HE GIVES TO RECEIVE MONEY ITS IN A CHURCH ON KUALA LUMPUR

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