It has been reported that RM5.2 billion were lost to frauds in just two years. The amount is just staggering, and the rise of internet and social media have somehow made the problem even bigger.
Smart Investor spoke with Maheswari G Kanniah, Group Chief Regulatory and Compliance Officer at Kenanga Group answer to find out more about fraud, its impact on investment and the upcoming Kenanga Fraud Awareness Week 2022.
Smart Investor: In comparison to last year’s Fraud Awareness Week, what is Kenanga doing this time around? Anything different for Fraud Awareness Week 2022?
Maheswari G Kanniah: Since its inception in 2017, Kenanga’s FAW has always been about raising fraud awareness and highlighting the importance of fraud detection and prevention.
This year’s 6th FAW continues with the same objectives and in light of the current situation that we are in and noting the risks for fraud increases, the 6th FAW’s theme is Reaffirming Ethical and Moral Resilience for Good Governance. With this, Kenanga seeks to reaffirms our belief that high ethics and moral are the cornerstone for good governance, which is undoubtedly an important factor in the anti-fraud agenda. It is our aim that, by gathering a larger audience from various different industries and sectors, we could further amplify the message on fraud prevention and detection to the general public.
Similar to the last 2 years, all programs for the FAW, including the Opening Ceremony, FAW Games and Talk Series, are undertaken virtually or online. While we have a whistleblower speaking at our Opening Ceremony and Talk Series in 2021, this year, we not only have a whistleblower but also an investigative reporter who will share his experience in exposing a major fraud case. This will further shed some lights on the importance of speaking up culture as a mean to protect interest of all, an organisation and people alike.
Additionally, for the FAW Games, we have also introduced new format of games with educational elements remaining as the key factor. We hope to challenge minds of the participants and further broader their thinking into various different areas of fraud and anti-fraud.
SI: Post-pandemic, multi-level fraud cases have been on the rise. Could you render some opinions/thoughts on this current situation?
MGK: As the pandemic unfolded in 2020, many Malaysians saw their lives swiftly reshaped by stay-at-home orders, school closures and the onset of remote work. Amidst slowing economic activities, pandemic has led to a surge in e-commerce and accelerated digital transformation. As lockdowns became the new normal, businesses and consumers increasingly “went digital”, providing and purchasing more goods and services online.
Post pandemic, this is no longer a new normal but many people are already accustomed to the changes by relying on technology to carry out their day to daily activities, from banking to even groceries shopping. This has unfortunately led to the rise of fraud cases, notably involving online and digital fraud.
Although the benefits of technology are many, I strongly feel that there is a need to create awareness and educate people on the danger that also comes with it. In this respect, not only the regulators have a role to play, the financial institutions (FIs) should also play their part to reach out to their clients and public on the importance of fraud prevention and detection.
At the same time, while the regulators and FIs continue to do their part, the public should also take responsibility to exercise good judgment and extra caution when going online or digital. This includes being vigilant of signs of scams and unlicensed activities so as to avoid falling victim to such unscrupulous parties.
SI: How is fraud affecting the way people invest today? Has it caused an increase in hesitance to invest?
MGK: The increase in fraud cases has to a certain degree affect investors’ decision. Investors are seen more careful to place trust on FIs to manage their monies. Before attempting or indulging themselves into any financial investment(s), investors are more cautious and some even carry out thorough research to verify the authenticity of the investment opportunity. This is, to a certain extent, a good sign as it provides a layer of protection to the investors.
From the FIs perspective, this could mean less opportunities for business due to overly careful considerations by the investors. Some hesitant investors would think twice about the value of the investment and may want to experience the opportunity loss to convince themselves of the authenticity of the investment.
We also see that the with the efforts taken by the regulators and FIs to educate and raise awareness, investors are also being more cautious and warier of any scams. However, fraudsters are also continuously adapting their modus operandi and using new technological tools in their attempts to perpetrate fraud.
SI: What are the most prevalent types of fraud that Malaysians should be cognizant of?
MGK: Online or digital fraud which involved scams, phishing and identity theft are on the rise. This increase was in fact driven by COVID-19 pandemic where more transactions have since moved online.
As more people embrace digital transactions, more opportunities are created for fraudsters and this has further increased the risk of digital fraud. Fraudsters have made use of technology to scale up the complexities and scope of their operations. Through technology, fraudsters are able to undertake globally universal scams with shocking ease and constantly shift their approach to find new vulnerabilities.
In this regard, although FIs are expected to update and upgrade their security measures, this is simply not enough to prevent all financial fraud. There is also a paramount need to educate public on new and emerging threats of fraud. Reminders and greater awareness will not only reinforce the need for constant vigilance from all parties, but also create an environment where everyone is risk conscious and responsible in protecting the interests of each other.
SI: It is reported that RM5.2 billion were lost to frauds in just two years, why do you think people still fall for fraudsters? And what can be done to reduce the number of victims?
MGK: Fraud risk is constantly evolving as scammers continue to devise more sophisticated means of defrauding the public. Nowadays, we could hear new different approaches of tricking the public into revealing their confidential details or installing malware on their devices. Fraudsters are also taking advantage of fear and anxiety of the people, which lead them to make poor decisions and hand over security information to malicious actors.
Further, as I have stated before, as more people embrace digital transactions, more opportunities are created for fraudsters and this has further increased the risk of digital fraud. In this respect, we all have a role to play by being vigilant of emerging scam typologies and ensuring that response measures remain effective against new threats.
As mentioned earlier, regulators such as Bank Negara Malaysia and Securities Commission Malaysia have undertaken numerous on-going campaigns highlighting the matters that investors should look out for when investing and also publishes the Financial Fraud Alert List or the Investor Alert List as a guide to enhance the awareness on entities or schemes which may have been wrongly perceived or represented as being licensed or regulated by the regulators.
In the end, I strongly believe that the public should take charge to educate and keep themselves updated of new and emerging threats of fraud. The FIs can only do as much to carry out their responsibilities and the key responsibility to protecting public from falling into any fraudulent scheme is the public themselves.
SI: What does Kenanga hope to achieve in this year’s FAW campaign?
MGK: In line with our theme this year, we aim to continue spreading the message of anti-fraud and to highlight the grave impact that comes from failure to protect oneself from fraud and scams. From within, we will continue to strengthen Kenanga’s core by equipping our employees with the necessary knowledge and realisation of the importance of anti-fraud. The employees are our first line of defence and main safeguards against the threat of fraud.
As far as for educating our clients, we have various targeted campaigns to highlight the steps they should take to protect themselves from fraud when investing with Kenanga. For example, we have from time-to-time issued explainer videos through Kenanga’s website which highlights important dos-and-don’t that clients should practice when depositing money for investments. Kenanga also constantly reminds the clients to be alert on fraudulent schemes through emails and online trading portals.
As for the larger public audience, through social media pages, Kenanga issue out immediate alert if there is any attempt to defraud using Kenanga’s name and reminds the public to prevent being victims and only contact the authorised personnel in Kenanga for correct information. We are pleased that the adoption rate or success of these campaigns are best measured by the fact that we have successfully thwarted a few frauds attempt and prevented losses to both the clients and Kenanga.
SI: Are there any prominent partners that Kenanga is working with for this year’s FAW? Does Kenanga have any future partnership in plans? If yes, what/who are they?
MGK: For clarity, Kenanga does not partner with any specific organisation for FAW. It is only that the FAW is organised in conjunction with the International Fraud Awareness Week of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners based in Austin, Texas.
As per previous years, Kenanga’s Fraud Awareness Week 2022 welcomes participation from any industries and sectors in the different programmes we organise. This includes Securities Commission Malaysia, Bursa Malaysia Berhad, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Kumpulan Wang Simpanan Pekerja, Nestlé Malaysia, Lembaga Tabung Haji, Petronas, Sime Darby Plantation Berhad and many more.
It is our aim that, by gathering a larger audience from various different industries and sectors, we could further amplify the message on fraud prevention and detection to the general public.
SI: Any events that you hope for the public to participate in during the FAW?
MGK: We have always welcomed the public to participate in our programmes. For your information, each year, apart from inviting the various organisations to participate in our FAW Games, we have also advertised the same through social media. In addition to that, since we started organising the Opening Ceremony online three (3) year ago, anyone can access the live broadcast or reply of the programme.
And each year, it is our hope that we are able to reach out to a bigger audience so that all take cognisant of the fight against fraud that is happening globally and continue to be vigilant of such threat. The awareness of the public is the ultimate yardstick of success to our Fraud Awareness Week 2022 initiative.
About Fraud Awareness Week 2022
Theme: Reaffirming Ethical and Morale Resilience For Good Governance
The FAW Games are part of the activities of Kenanga’s 6th FAW, which will be organised from 14 November 2022 to 18 November 2022 in conjunction with the International FAW of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). As part of Kenanga’s efforts to engage with parties in the network of persons and entities it works with, the FAW Games is an opportunity for parties to raise awareness on fraud detection and prevention. Participation in the FAW Games also reflects Kenanga’s vendors commitment to the anti-fraud agenda.
The FAW Games, will also be held virtually by leveraging on technology. Nevertheless, be assured that the FAW Games will still feature fun filled activities containing educational elements, which emphasises on the importance of anti-fraud, compliance, ethics and integrity.
To know more about Fraud as part of Kenanga’s involvement with the International Fraud Awareness Week 2022: https://www.fraudweek.com/resources