The Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) has cautioned the public on the sharp increase of clone firm scams this year. The scams are perpetuated by companies that fraudulently impersonate a legitimate entity, including misusing the name and logo of a public listed company (PLC) to dupe investors and to solicit funds.
These clone firms offer non-existent investment opportunities including in the shares of these PLCs, promising unrealistically high returns within a short span of time. In May, the SC had also issued an alert against fraudulent clone firms posing as licensed capital market intermediaries.
The latest cloning scams include PLCs in the medical, glove and property sectors that had garnered investor interest during the COVID-19 pandemic. The targeted entities have lodged police reports and/or made a complaint to the SC on the cloning of their corporate identities by unknown persons or organisations.
Other than the names and logos of these PLCs, the fraudsters also use corporate credentials, websites and other details of legitimate entities when promoting these schemes via social media channels such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter.
The victims are often instructed to provide personal information such as their names, NRIC numbers and bank details, after which they will be directed to transfer funds to the personal bank accounts of the scammers. Following this, the fraudsters will induce the victims to part with more money on the pretext of income tax payments, administrative fees, bank charges, withdrawal fees or exchange rates.
The SC would like to remind the investors to always exercise caution when evaluating investment opportunities, especially those promising very high returns with little or no risk and to seek the counsel of licensed and legitimate advisors. Investors are urged to verify the status of individuals or companies offering investing opportunities via the SC websites.
The SC also urges the public to verify bank account details at the “Semak Mule” online application and website made available by PDRM’s Commercial Crime Investigation Department to check if a bank account and phone number is used for fraudulent activities or its owner has any criminal records.
Members of the public who suspect that they have been approached by unauthorised firms or individuals offering schemes promising returns which seems too good to be true, may lodge a report with the Consumers and Investors Department at +603 6204 8999 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.