Scammers even more active during this MCO period

Alert woman thwarts attempt to steal money from her bank account by ignoring WhatsApp and SMS messages and calls badgering her for information.

PETALING JAYA: A new wave of scammers are believed to be preying on online banking customers, and possibly taking advantage of the higher rate of e-commerce activities that comes with restrictions imposed under the movement control order (MCO).

One woman in Perak was close to losing her savings when she found out that RM18,000 was listed to be transferred out of her Maybank account using its online platform M2U.

A security expert said it was not surprising that scammers might make use of the current situation to cheat people out of their money.

Norzieana Mior Norahan said on April 3, she received an SMS message from the number 63044, asking if she had purchased items from Lazada worth RM18,000.

“I ignored the message and blocked the number. At around 8.03pm, I received a WhatsApp message from 01125835468, once again asking if I had made a purchase at Lazada and if I had made payments to them,” she said in several Facebook posts to warn others against scammers.

She said the only transaction she had done was a day earlier, to transfer RM1,000 to her bank account, using the free internet connection provided during the MCO.

Norzieana said she was shocked to learn that there were two pending transactions to a First Deposit Goal Savings Plan (GSP) which came to RM18,000 in total.

She soon received a WhatsApp message from the number 0176312341, claiming a TAC was accidentally sent to her phone number.

TAC, or transaction authorisation code, is a unique six-digit code sent by banks to a customer’s mobile phone, to be keyed in to verify before a transaction is approved.

Norzieana said the messages were followed by calls through WhatsApp, which she ignored.

Not long after, she received a TAC by SMS, but immediately blocked the numbers.

“I was worried thinking of stories of people getting scammed before this.”

Norzieana claimed as it was the MCO period, her request to her bank to change her M2U password could not be done immediately.

A Maybank officer from Kuala Lumpur finally contacted her and Norzieana promptly cancelled the RM18,000 pending transactions.

She then filed a police report. She said the police told her of similar cases being investigated over the last few days.

FMT has contacted the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission and Maybank to shed more light on the case.

Meanwhile, SL Rajesh, a security expert with the International Association for Counterterrorism and Security Professionals (IACSP), said the scam was most likely not related to the free internet service offered by the government to handphone users.

“Paid or free, the security wall is the same. With our current situation with the MCO, online scammers will actively come out with new strategies.”

Now that more people are opting to use online e-commerce sites as they were confined to their homes, he said scammers would set up online sites which he said were “popping up like mushrooms“.

“The user would not know whether the site is genuine. This gives more opportunities to them.”

He said the public should know who they were dealing with online. People should also refrain from opening suspicious texts, pop-up windows or click on links or attachments in emails.

“Don’t respond to phone calls asking for personal information and keep your personal details secure,” he added.

He also said people should avoid accessing public WiFi, and use their personal hotspots whenever they were accessing online banking or providing personal information online.