The Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) today disclosed the findings of its investigation into 10 clone firm scams, to arm investors with greater awareness on the modus operandi of these scams in order to spot and avoid them.
Clone firm scams are generally companies that fraudulently impersonate a legitimate or a licensed entity, including misusing the name and logo of a public listed company (PLC), corporate credentials and website, to dupe investors and solicit funds.
The SC’s investigation shows that the modus operandi would typically involve:
(a) Putting out advertisements on social media such as Facebook to lure investors with investment packages guaranteeing high returns and seemingly managed by “licensed intermediaries”.
(b) Using large number of “agents” to lure potential victims, and soliciting investments through Whatsapp chats once the victims clicked on the link provided.
(c) Requesting victims to deposit monies for the “investment schemes” into bank accounts held by mule account holders to layer and launder the illegal proceeds received.
In the course of the SC’s investigation, at least 32 mule account holders have been identified to be involved in facilitating the operators of these scams. The SC’s investigation revealed that the scam operators have generated a large amount of illegal proceeds given the large number of victims.
In one of the scams, approximately RM3.6 million have flowed through one mule bank account within a period of six months. Based on the 154 bank statements reviewed, the SC also found that in total, at least RM24.7 million may have flowed to several “masterminds” of these scams.
The findings also highlighted that the clone firm scams will target victims/investors who are willing to part with small amount of monies but with the expectation of making huge returns in a short period of time.
Given that most of the victims who were scammed lost only small amount of monies, many were reluctant to come forward and cooperate with the SC in its investigation into the scams. Out of the 24 victims identified, 15 of them declined to cooperate with the SC.
To clamp down on these illegal activities, the SC is currently reviewing available evidence and considering various enforcement options against those involved in the clone firm scams.
The SC wishes to reiterate that investors too have to play their role by exercising vigilance and scepticism when evaluating investment opportunities such as checking the legitimacy of individuals or entities who approached them to invest in any investment scheme or investment opportunities marketed through social media and Whatsapp chats.
More importantly, investors are also advised to never deposit money into personal bank accounts of any individuals when requested to do so.
Investors should refer to the SC’s Investor Alert List for details on unauthorised websites, investment products, companies and individuals. Additionally, they can also check Police Diraja Malaysia (PDRM)’s Semak Mule website at https://semakmule.rmp.gov.my/ to verify whether the bank account numbers provided by the “agents” marketing their investment schemes are in the list of mule accounts that have been identified by the police and other enforcement agencies.Investors can also contact the SC’s Consumers and Investor Office at 03-6204 8999 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to lodge reports on suspected scams.
About the Securities Commission Malaysia:
The Securities Commission Malaysia (SC), a statutory body reporting to the Minister of Finance, was established under the Securities Commission Act 1993. It is the sole regulatory agency for the regulation and development of capital markets. The SC has direct responsibility for supervising and monitoring the activities of market institutions, including the exchanges and clearing houses, and regulating all persons licensed under the Capital Markets and Services Act 2007. More information about the SC is available on its website at www.sc.com.my. Follow the SC on twitter at @SecComMy for more updates.