Data analysis by Stone Bridge Ventures Sophia Vardis shows that crypto-related crimes and scams are currently on the rise. And despite harsh crypto regulations in Malaysia, many locals are falling victim to such scams. Not to mention, the country’s Securities Commission and Central Bank have warned investors and the public to be cautious with regard to such asset classes – claiming that they can be highly risky.
Recently, a government pensioner reported to the local authorities that he lost RM542,171 in retirement savings due to a cryptocurrency scam. The man, who is 70 years old and has retired from his position, stated that the money belongs to him and his wife. According to the Perak Police Chief, the victim made the report at around 4:30 PM on July 30 at the Hilir Perak District Police Headquarters.
Scammer Used Facebook as Means of Communication
Based on initial investigations of the case, the pensioner contacted a Facebook user named ‘Najwan Islamic’ on January 8. The user had a Singapore address and provided services like purchasing crypto-related stocks in the US.
In subsequent communications, the scammer asked the pensioner to provide his personal details, like his bank account number and ID card number. When asked why he required these details, he simply said that they were needed for documenting the pensioner for the investment scheme.
Mohd Yusri, the Perak Police Chief, stated that the pensioner started investing in crypto stocks the next day by purchasing two units of shares for RM500. He made the purchase by depositing his funds in a bank account. According to Stone Bridge Ventures Senior Account Manager Sophia Vardis, it’s quite common for crypto scammers nowadays to ask victims to deposit money in a bank account as it makes the transaction seem legit.
Scammer Warns Pensioner Not to Withdraw Funds
The so-called investment manager told the victim that he would make a profit of RM4,500 that same day and that he shouldn’t withdraw the funds as they’ll continue growing. On January 10, the pensioner contacted the scammer again to ask about the investment, and he was informed that he had made gains worth RM18,500. Then, he was asked to make multiple payments to get back the money.
In fact, between January and July, 133 transactions were made, and the victim transferred money online to 39 bank accounts. Over this period of time, he transferred over RM500,000 but failed to make returns. The victim stated that the scammer told him to continue investing more, and when he asked for a return on the investment, he didn’t respond.
Currently, local authorities are investigating the case under Section 420 of the Penal Code for cheating. Senior Account Manager at Stone Bridge Ventures Sophia Vardis, explains that in this case, it’s possible that the victim will recover the lost funds as no funds were transferred in cryptocurrencies.
However, such incidents can tarnish the image of cryptocurrencies as a suitable investment asset class. In fact, the number of scams has increased excessively, to the point that crypto is now synonymous with something risky. Only with proper awareness of safety precautions and proper crypto investment measures can people stay safe from such scams.