Do not get fooled by scammers, govt should come up with more awareness, expert says
SHAH ALAM - Just like a sand castle getting vanished by sea waves, people's hard-earned money are often lost within seconds to scammers.
Scams are a new-norm in the world, especially in Malaysia. There is no age limit for scam victims, even the eldery in their 90s are getting scammed.
A scam is any fraudulent business or scheme that takes money or other goods from any unsuspecting victims.
There are many types of scams and the most common ones in Malaysia are investment scams, love scams, Macau scam, mule account scams, EPF scams and fake moneylending scams.
It was reported more than 50,000 online fraud cases were reported in Malaysia for the last five years involving a total loss of RM1.61 billion. That's definitely a huge amount of money!
Efforts and steps to prevent scams among people yet the number of scam victims are increasing day by day.
Malaysian Society of Clinical Psychology president Joel Low said there is a lack of awareness in combatting the scams in Malaysia.
"These scams work because they prey on people who don’t realise that there are unscrupulous people out to con them.
"So they get caught up with their lies and stories and then get scammed. In this case, awareness plays the main role.
"Instilling a healthy amount of doubt and skepticism is a great idea as well. As the adage goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true," he reasoned.
Commenting further, Psychologist Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj Chandrasekaran urged the family members or relatives to check in the older loved ones every now and then.
"It is advisable to ask questions about individuals attempting to isolate them from friends and family or requests inappropriate photos or financial information.
"It is better for everyone to not over share personal information on social media and to be suspicious of people not met in person," he said when asked on what can be done to reduce the amount of love scams especially among the elderly.
He further said that internet love scams occur when someone takes advantage of a person's trust and emotions in order to gain access to their financial resources.
The elderly may be more susceptible because they may have fewer people in their lives who can spot the warning signs of such scams.
"Scammers too know this and often target the elderly who are perceived as a better target for financial gain.
"Scammers are scrupulous in targeting victims who are lonely and possibly looking for love.
"The tell tale signs of the potential victim is usually detected in their social media postings, It is not that difficult for the meticulous scammer to identify vulnerable victims," he reasoned.
From a psychologist's perspective, Andrew said there are several factors that make the elderly more vulnerable and these include feelings of loneliness, low self-esteem, a strong desire to be loved and a need for attention.
"The inability to detect deception and to recognise warning signs, an eagerness to trust, and a lack of caution when conversing online can increase the likelihood of falling for an internet love scam.
"There is an increasing number of people who are lonely not just the elderly, even younger people who are focused on their career and have little time to physically meet others resort to the internet to find love.
"Besides taking all the necessary precautions in verifying the identity of scammers, it is best not to underestimate one’s gut instincts on the matter. When something is too good to be true, it is probably fake," he said.
Afraid of getting scammed or any of your close family members, relatives or friends is a scam victim? There is a way to place your report.
Speaking to an Operator from National Scam Response Center, scam victims can call to 997 and place your report there.
"For any transaction that happened within a very short time frame, you can contact us. We will take down your bank information for example bank account number.
"Our relevant team will rectify the amoynt and the information goes all way down to the police department.
"We will also identify the type of scam and this informations will also go to the police team in order to find out what kind of scam is actually going on, is it more into online scams, macau or love scam," the operator said.