The Unseen Criminal

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By Mariam Mokhtar

When Ipohite Puan Safura received an e-mail from her bank one morning, she thought nothing of it. The e-mail requested her to update her details on her bank profile, via the link that was given in that email.

“I thought it was a genuine email. The e-mail address looked similar to the one from my bank. The message stated that I needed to log in immediately to update my contact information for security purposes,” said Safura who unsuspectingly clicked on the link provided.

At noon, she received an SMS from her bank informing her that her account had just made a third-party transaction.

She immediately rushed to the nearest branch of her bank and found that her account had been emptied. All RM4,600 had been transferred out of her account. Sadly, she had just been paid that month and apart from her wages, it included what was set aside to take her children on their annual holiday.

Unresponsive Bank

Although she was quick to report the incident, her bank refused to disclose the details of whose account the money had gone to.

She was asked to complete a complaint form and lodge a police report, which she did. She was told that the bank’s ‘Fraud Management Team’ would contact her, but she never heard from them.

Instead, she received a letter from her bank a week later, to inform her that they could not compensate her for her losses.

Financial Mediation Bureau

She then wrote a letter to the Financial Mediation Bureau (FMB) or Biro Pengantaraan Kewangan to lodge a complaint against her bank. She was also told that investigations would take up to six months.

Six weeks later, when she contacted the FMB, they told her that her bank had not responded to their request and that they would wait a couple more weeks, in March 2011 before they would send the bank a reminder.

A dejected Safura told the Ipoh Echo: “I am new to online banking and I was not aware that such scams existed. I quickly contacted the bank so that they could help in the police investigations, but the bank seemed slow to act. It is likely that the person, who took my money illegally, has closed his account. Both the bank and the Biro do not seem to take my case urgently.

“To many people, RM4,600 may not seem like a huge sum. I am a single mother and the loss of this money means a lot to me.”

Beware of Internet Scams

Puan Safura is not alone, for she is one of the huge numbers of Malaysians who fall prey to Internet banking scams.

According to CyberSecurity Malaysia, a total of 1,426 reports were made in 2010, compared to 634 received in 2009.

Cyber criminals are on the prowl looking for account holders gullible enough to reveal the two most vital pieces of data – their username and password.

They use fake banking websites, known as “phishing” sites, to try and trap the account holders.

Phishing

Phishing is a way of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an e-mail or instant messaging.

Communications purporting to be from popular social web sites, auction sites, online payment processors or IT administrators are commonly used to lure the unsuspecting public. The e-mail or SMS often directs users to enter details at a fake website whose look and feel are almost identical to the legitimate one.

If you have an Internet banking account, like many of us do in this modern IT era, take immediate notice. If you fall for the fake e-mail or SMS, your entire account will be wiped out in minutes, depending on the amount of money you have and the transfer limit set by the bank.

Banks will never contact you by e-mail to ask you to enter your password or any other sensitive information by clicking on a link and visiting a web site. The e-mails are sent out completely at random in the hope of reaching a live e-mail address of a customer with an account at the bank being targeted.

If you receive a suspicious e-mail, please inform your bank as directed on their website and forward the e-mail to their ‘report a scam e-mail’ address.

2 thoughts on “The Unseen Criminal

  1. I did received one similar e-mail asking me to enter password, if not my account will no longer be active. Luckily I called the bank’s customer service dept to verify and was told that it was scam e-mail as the bank will never ask us enter password via e-mail. Must be very careful.

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