Psychological factors fuelling Malaysia's scam epidemic - Expert

11 Dec 2023 12:00pm
Image for illustrative purposes only. - FILE PIX
Image for illustrative purposes only. - FILE PIX

SHAH ALAM - The escalating prevalence of scams in the country is deeply rooted in psychological factors that render individuals vulnerable to these deceptive practices, a cyber security analyst said.

According to Novem Cyber Security CEO R Murugason, the underlying dynamics driving the growing prevalence of scams in Malaysia is the psychological factors that make individuals vulnerable to scams.

Murugason highlighted the pervasive role of emotions in influencing susceptibility to scams.

"Scammers skillfully exploit emotional triggers, such as urgency, fear, or excitement, to manipulate their targets.

"By creating a sense of urgency, fear, or excitement, scammers impair rational thinking and compel individuals to make impulsive decisions," he told Sinar Daily recently.

This vulnerability is particularly evident among Malaysians aged 31 to 40, who account for a disproportionately high number of investment fraud cases, according to police' statistics.

Murugason attributed this trend to the increased financial responsibilities and aspirations often associated with this age group.

"When confronted with financial challenges or a yearning for swift economic gains, individuals become increasingly susceptible to scams offering easy money or lucrative investment returns," he said.

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The allure of trust and authority also plays a significant role in the success of scammers.

"Scammers frequently employ the tactic of establishing an illusion of trust and authority.

"They adeptly pose as trustworthy figures, such as government officials, company representatives, or law enforcement officers, leveraging this facade to coax victims into sharing personal information, granting access to financial accounts, or engaging in financial transactions," Murugason added.

He further stressed the impact of modern lifestyles and constant distractions on individuals' vigilance.

"The hustle and bustle of modern lifestyles, coupled with constant distractions, contribute to a lack of vigilance, causing individuals to overlook warning signs or suspicious behaviors," he explained.

To combat the scam epidemic effectively, Murugason called for a multi-pronged approach that addresses both individual and societal factors.

He highlighted the importance of continuous education and awareness campaigns to equip individuals with the knowledge and skills to recognise and avoid scams.

In addition to public education, Murugason commended the government's proactive stance in addressing the escalating threat of scammers.

"The establishment of the National Scam Response Centre (NSRC) reflects a strategic move to combat online scams and fraud," he acknowledged.

Murugason also encouraged victims of scams to overcome feelings of self-blame or shame and to focus on reporting the incident, seeking support, and learning from the experience to prevent future occurrences.

By understanding the psychological factors contributing to scam susceptibility and implementing targeted preventive measures, authorities can create a safer financial landscape for all Malaysians.