MACC: International scammers used 5 banks to dupe victims

THE Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has detected five major banks in the country that are being used by international scammers to dupe victims who transacted up to RM1 mil per day after being conned.

The anti-corruption watchdog got wind of the bank’s roles following the most recent MACC success in busting a global scamming syndicate in an operation codenamed “Ops Tropicana”.

It was understood that at least 20 bank employees, including auditors and frontline officers, had aided and abetted such syndicates in opening accounts without hassle.

According to a report by the New Straits Times (NST), the scammers then used these accounts to collect money from victims who had been duped.

As of now, a significant proportion of the victims have been identified as coming from Australia and the United Kingdom.

Bank officers were additionally alleged to have turned a blind eye to suspicious transaction reports related to bank accounts.

According to reports, the corrupt bank employees aided scammers to profit by RM200 mil in just three months in exchange of RM1,000 and RM2,000 for each bank account opened without due diligence.

“These accounts are just used for transit purposes because the syndicate will immediately layer the money deposited by moving it between various accounts until it ends up in the syndicate’s accounts in Hong Kong,” a source told the English daily, adding that every single one of the banks involved was in Kuala Lumpur.

It is believed that 20 to 30 bank accounts were opened, with the scammers closing and reopening new accounts every three months.

Although it was the employees who dealt with the syndicates, it was learned that the banks were still on the MACC radar for corporate liability.

The graft buster also discovered seven to eight dummy companies set up by the scammers in hopes of opening bank accounts.

These companies, which were even registered with the Malaysian Companies Commission (CCM), would be used to promote bogus investment schemes in hopes of enticing victims.

Investigators have also identified that the syndicate had meticulously planned their operations by tying renowned international companies to their scams.

MACC investigations have revealed that the syndicate was active in a number of countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom.

Ops Tropicana

The NST had previously reported that the MACC had busted an international investment scam syndicate that had collected RM200 mil from victims in Australia and the United Kingdom.

(Pic credit: MACC)

The graft busters raided at least 25 locations in Klang Valley and Penang during the clandestine operation known as “Ops Tropicana”.

According to the MACC, the syndicate bribed various enforcement authorities to allow their operations to continue unabated since 2019, with most of the syndicate being made up of Australians, Britons, South Africans, and Filipinos.

The syndicate had deceived victims into transferring funds into fictitious investment portfolios by establishing 24 companies to temporarily park money transferred by victims abroad before it was funnelled to other bank accounts overseas.

The accounts of the syndicates would be the final destination. It is believed that the syndicate used Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phones, which allowed them to cover up their phone numbers and appear to be representatives of the specific companies.

Meanwhile, when contacted, MACC’s Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture (AML) Division director, Datuk Mohamad Zamri Zainul Abidin mentioned that the syndicate’s two ringleaders, both UK citizens, will be charged in the Shah Alam Court today. – March 16, 2023


Main pic credit: The Malaysian Reserve

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