Despite widespread publicity, gullible Malaysians are still losing millions of ringgit to African scams each year. In the first half of 2016, police's Commercial Crime Department recorded 1,106 cases involving losses of over RM44 million. (File pix)

KUALA LUMPUR: Despite widespread publicity, gullible Malaysians are still losing millions of ringgit to African scams each year.

In the first half of 2016, police's Commercial Crime Department recorded 1,106 cases involving losses of over RM44 million.

Last year, a total of 1,521 cases were recorded with losses up to RM71.3 million.

Statistics revealed there was a 493 or 47.9 per cent increase in the total cases recorded, compared to 1,028 cases recorded in 2014.

In terms of total losses, a 36 per cent increase was recorded compared to RM52.3 million, two years ago.

Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) director Datuk Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani said their research showed that the scammers' modus operandi have not changed.

They would first befriend potential victims through social media.

"The suspects, using a fake identity, would lure the victims by sweet talking, lures of expensive gifts and other promises.

"Once they have gained the victim's trust, other syndicate members (often posing as enforcement officers) would contact the victims to ask them to bank in money in order to receive the 'gifts' sent by the suspects," he said.

On Tuesday, police foiled two syndicates with the arrest of eight African nationals; six men and two women and a Malaysian woman, believed to have conned RM7.2 million from an American woman.

Acryl Sani said the arrests were made after they were tipped off by their counterpart, the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

"The AFP had requested for our cooperation and help to investigate several cases involving money being transferred between Malaysia and Australia due to African scams.

"The report lodged by the American in Brickfields also prompted the department to launch two special operations to track down the syndicate members," he said.

The raiding team also seized a Toyota Lexus, bank cards, mobile phones, laptops and passports from the suspects.

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