A clandestine operation in Malaysia exposed a fraudulent investment syndicate that operated under the guise of an independent bungalow, once a foreign consulate, employing armed guards to obfuscate its true intentions. However, despite their efforts to evade detection, law enforcement agencies thwarted their activities, apprehending 28 individuals, comprising both locals and foreigners, aiding in the investigation.
Datuk Seri Ramli Mohamed Yoosuf, the Director of Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID), disclosed that this syndicate orchestrated a monetary game as bait, promoting seven online cryptocurrency investment packages promising returns of 1% to 2% within 155 days.
“Investors simply needed to log onto http://mgc.game/ to engage in cryptocurrency transactions, with investments ranging from a minimum of 155 USDT to a maximum of 31,000 USDT.”
Addressing the press, Ramli detailed how authorities conducted a raid on a standalone bungalow in Kuala Lumpur on the 22nd of this month, unravelling a scam targeting Malaysians, Bruneians, South Koreans, and Chinese nationals.
Of the 28 apprehended, there were 16 men and 12 women, aged between 20 and 62. Thirteen were locals, seven from China, four from Brunei, and four South Koreans. Alongside the arrests, authorities seized 41 mobile phones, 13 passports, tablets, laptops, 2 access cards, and a Lexus sedan at the scene.
“Surprisingly, investigations revealed that this bungalow was previously a foreign consulate, with the syndicate later leasing it and even employing armed guards. To outsiders, it resembled a consulate, but its actual activities were far from diplomatic.”
Authorities are actively investigating the bungalow owner’s identity, suspecting their current location to be overseas.
Citing penal codes 420 (deception) and 511 (attempted crime), authorities are pursuing the case. Thirteen local suspects have been granted verbal bails, while foreign suspects remain detained until the 8th of next month under the 1959 Immigration Act.
In light of this incident, Ramli urged the public to consult the Malaysian Securities Commission before engaging in any cryptocurrency investments to avoid falling victim to scams.
He emphasised that currently, only five companies have received approval from the Malaysian Securities Commission to establish and operate cryptocurrency trading –
- Luno Malaysia Private Limited
- HATA Digital Private Limited
- MX Global Private Limited
- SINEGY DAX Private Limited
- Tokenize Technology (M) Private Limited
Southeast Asia is a hotbed for crypto scams, with over 70% of global crypto scams originating from the region. According to a report by Chainalysis, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines were the top three countries in Southeast Asia in terms of cryptocurrency scam revenue in 2021. These countries also saw a significant increase in crypto scams in 2022.
There are a number of factors that contribute to the high prevalence of crypto scams in Southeast Asia. One factor is the high level of internet penetration in the region. Another factor is the growing popularity of cryptocurrency, which is seen as a way to make quick money. Additionally, many people in Southeast Asia are not aware of the risks of crypto scams, and they are therefore more likely to fall victim to them.
It is important to note that the data on crypto scams in Southeast Asia is limited. This is because many crypto scams go unreported. Additionally, the data that is available is often incomplete and inaccurate. Therefore, the true extent of the problem is likely to be much greater than what is reported.