Communications minister warns Malaysians to watch out for Telegram scammers, says their tactics so good even ex-PM Ismail Sabri wasn’t spared
SHAH ALAM, March 5 — Scammers these days are so sophisticated that they can even hack into the private accounts of someone as high profile as former prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Communications and Digital minister Fahmi Fadzil said today.
He recalled last August when Ismail Sabri’s Telegram account was infiltrated by a person or persons unknown who pretended to be the then prime minister and asked his friends for money.
“Wan Junaidi, our former law minister, got a message from Ismail saying ‘Assamualaikum, can I borrow RM3000’? He replied with, ‘you must be kidding me’.
“These scammers sent messages to even these former high-ranking officials. They copied their speech patterns and the way you type,” Fahmi said during the launch of the MyDigitalL.KKD programme at UiTM here.
Ismail Sabri was prime minister from August 2021 to October 2022.
Datuk Seri Wan Jun Junaidi Wan Jaafar was the former Santubong MP who last served as the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Parliament and law under Ismail Sabri’s leadership.
“As we said before many platforms like TikTok and Facebook were hacked and people use it to scam others but for Telegram we haven’t had discussions with them yet and when we see Ismail and other ministers also being scammed we at the ministry are taking this matter very seriously,” Fahmi said.
He added that Telegram is also being used to spread extremist ideologies and pornography.
He warned the public not to click on anything that looks fishy, unfamiliar or out of the ordinary.
Last year, the police Commercial Crime Investigation Department recorded 19,034 reports related to cyber and multimedia crime that involved a financial loss of RM593 million.
The department received a total of 1,563 cyber and multimedia crime reports this year involving a loss of RM48 million.
Fahmi said that scamming syndicates often look for loopholes in the law to operate in the country and a regional framework that is applicable to all jurisdictions can help prevent this.
Apart from that, Malaysians also lost RM500 million annually by overseas job scam syndicates.
“They’ll take your friend’s picture and catfish you. A pretty girl could be an old man so please be careful as we look very seriously into this matter.
“Anything that feels out of the ordinary, even if it’s your friend messaging, please think twice before doing anything,” said Fahmi who is also the Lembah Pantai MP.
The term ‘catfish’ refers to an online trickster who sets up a fake social media account to trap money out of others, usually by pretending to offer them love.