Photo - Dr Amirudin Abdul Wahab, Chief Executive Officer, CyberSecurity Malaysia
Malaysia's national security specialist CyberSecurity Malaysia has issued a warning to Malaysians about 'cyber flirts,' which is becoming a global concern as this is linked to blackmail spams, it said.
CyberSecurity Malaysia chief executive officer Dr Amirudin Abdul Wahab said the victims are mainly teenaged boys to middle aged man while the perpetrators are suspected to be foreign nationals, most probably males with some female accomplices creating a scam hub in various locations including in Malaysia.
The scammers use social networking sites like Facebook, Tagged and online video chats such as Skype as the platform to carry out their cyber flirting activities, said Dr Amirudin, who added that victims are being asked to pay between RM500 [US$152] to RM5000 [US$1522] each.
"Only four incidents of cyber blackmail scam were reported to our Cyber999 Help Centre in 2012, but by mid 2013 we saw an upward trend, which made us very worried. We referred the issue to the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP) for further investigation so the culprits can be dealt with accordingly," he said.
Dr Amirudin said that by end of 2013 the number rose to 73, which is an increase of 18.5 times. "This huge increase in incidents triggered the alarm. We also believe there are more incidents out there that are not reported to us. Hence, we released an alert on 25th December 2013 to warn the public. Malaysians are advised to be extra careful and not to entertain online seductions from women that they get to know only in social media, but have never really known them in person."
Typical modus operandi
An analysis of 80 reported incidents showed the modus operandi as follows, he said. "The perpetrator would usually create a profile on Facebook or Tagged, portraying herself as a beautiful, sexy woman purportedly from the Philippines, Japan or Korea. She would then identify a man as a potential victim and befriend that man on Facebook or Tagged. The perpetrator would flirt with the victim and lure the victim for an intimate video chat with her using Skype. During the video chat, the perpetrator would take off her clothes and seduce the victim to perform unpleasant act, while she secretly records the victim's acts. The perpetrator would later play the video chat footage to the victim and blackmail him to remit a certain amount of money via Western Union or a third party bank account; otherwise his video footage will be circulated in Facebook and YouTube."
CyberSecurity Malaysia issued the following advice:
What to do if you are a victim of such a scam:
- Discontinue and refrain from communicating with the perpetrator. Ignore and disregard all calls, SMS or messages from the perpetrator.
- Remove the perpetrator from all your social media friends or contact list or put her into your 'blocked' list.
- Make all your social networking accounts private so the perpetrator will not be able to reach you and your friends.
- Keep all relevant data such as chat logs, screenshots, and emails as evidence for reporting and prosecution purposes.
- Paying the scammers is never encouraged as it may further propagate the scam.
- Lodge a police report at a nearby police station together with evidence for the police to further investigate.
- Report to CyberSecurity Malaysia's Cyber999 Help Centre for further assistance by emailing to email@example.com or by calling 1-300-88-2999 (monitored during business hours). In case of emergency outside the regular working hours, send SMS text message to +60 19 2665850.
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