November 25, 2020 08:22 MYT
KUALA LUMPUR: Ten members of a mule account syndicate were arrested in raids by Bukit Aman’s Commercial Crime Investigation Department around Kuala Lumpur and Selangor from Nov 5 to 10.
The syndicate uses bank accounts of low-income individuals for illegal activities such as investment fraud and other scams.
Bukit Aman CCID director Datuk Zainuddin Yaacob said all the suspects arrested were locals aged between 20 and 32 comprising seven men and three women, and they were believed to have purchased each ATM card for between RM500 to RM800 from members of the public.
Members of the syndicate are believed to influence 'investors' by promising them a healthy return, and after a victim places money into the account, they will withdraw it via automatic teller machine (ATM) cards obtained from the account holders who are unaware that the accounts are being used for fraud.
"Following the arrests, the police have received a total of 32 reports involving mule account cases nationwide, involving losses worth about RM1.2 million,” he said.
Zainuddin said members of the syndicate were also found renting condominiums for between RM3,000 to RM5,000 a month to prevent their activities from being detected by the authorities.
"All the suspects are being investigated under Section 424 of the Penal Code as they are believed to be involved in fraud cases, and currently, all the suspects are being detained under the Prevention of Crime Act (POCA) 1959 for 21 days," he said.
In a separate case, the CCID also arrested 10 individuals suspected of being involved in the EssenceFX (Forex) investment syndicate during raids conducted at four locations around the Klang Valley on Nov 19.
The suspects aged 25 to 42 comprised eight local men and a woman as well as an Indonesian believed to be the girlfriend of the syndicate leader known as 'Joe Kedah'.
"The police previously received 72 reports involving losses of RM20.5 million suffered by the victims linked to this syndicate," he said.
Zainuddin said the syndicate was believed to have encouraged victims to invest in Forex by promising a profit of five to eight per cent per month through the EssenceFX platform using the ‘Metatrade 4’ application.
"The victims only realised that they had been cheated after the website was no longer accessible. Following the arrests, all suspects were placed under remand for five days until Nov 24," he said, adding all of them were being investigated under Section 420 of the Penal Code for fraud as well as the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA).
The police also confiscated 10 luxury cars, 17 mobile phones, 11 computers, RM10,000 in cash and other equipment used in the activity.