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Malaysia Cyber Rogues Unleashed – The relevance of Intellectual Property Rights

Cyber Rogues who fake websites to deceive buyers into making them believe that the goods are real and being delivered are overwhelmingly increasing in Malaysia. The number of computer security intrusions in 2005 were approximately 660 cases involving business transactions involving ‘.com’ and ‘.net’ websites, 42 non-governmental organizations that involves the ‘.org’, 79 cases involving ‘.edu’ websites and 129 cases involving Governmental agencies. These figures are exclusive of cases that have gone unreported.

Recent reports highlight that scams are aimed at the container shipping industry as uncovered by the International Maritime Bureau. Phony cargo shipments were made to fool those who bought the goods and shipped it. This proves to be a real threat as it makes traders more weary of the shortcomings in the shipping industry. However, it has to be noted that these cyber rogues can attack any industry and not just shipping.

Role of Securities Commission

Although the numbers of deceit and fraud cases over the internet has a steeper escalation as compared to, for instance the drug trafficking industry, the Securities Commission (SC) has only frozen 2 accounts in February worth RM1.6 million. They have conducted enquiries against several individuals but have yet to take any stringent enforcement actions against them. The individuals were suspected of involvement in a Global Internet scam run by Cambridge Capital Trading. The SC also cautioned investors on a fake website linked to the same scammers that is the United Arab Emirates Commodity Futures Board. This innovative scam involved coaxing investors to invest in products that were traded on a fictitious Dubai Option Exchange. This unlawful venture victimized many over the Internet.

On another related incident, Malaysian government authorities have recently embarked on a series of crackdowns on cyber scams, blocking access to six illegal investment websites and raiding the offices of an Internet firm in Kuala Lumpur, the nation’s capital.

The Securities Commission (SC) had identified six websites under close scrutiny:

www.abbfund.com or www.abfund.us,

www.cfdventure.com,

www.swedenfund.com,

www.uebond.com,

www.esuissefund.com or www.efmf.com.pa and

www.ecashfinance.com.

To further address and eliminate this alarming “syndrome”, SC will work with Bank Negara, the Malaysian Communications Multimedia Commission and Cyber Security Malaysia to track, identify, and block access to websites promoting investment scams. Stringent measures will be enforced to fight illegal investment activities, including enforcement actions against operators and agents of illegal Investment Websites. This large-scale operation will consequently result in more scam websites being blocked. So far, the SC has identified some sixty websites that are involved in illegal cyber investments.

Instances of Instant Money

This “money spinning phenomena” has recently rocked the nation sky high where thousands of Malaysians were believed to have lost several millions of ringgit in an “investment” scheme known as buy-e-barrel, which closed down abruptly.

The scheme offered daily interest of between 2% and 3% for an investment of between US$100 (RM345) and US$2,000 (RM6, 900).

Last year, certain prominent personalities and dignitaries were placed under remand to assist in investigations into a get-rich-quick scheme that allegedly promised enormous returns for a minimum investment. The alleged scam aptly referred to as “SwissCash” claimed that investors’ funds were “diverted” to business concerns, ranging from oil exploration to shipping and agriculture in the Caribbean. Investors were required to pay a registration fee of US$30 (RM103.50) to join the scheme, which allegedly offered huge returns for a minimum investment of US$100. Investors who are still participating in such illegal ventures have been reminded to pull out their investments and cease their accounts immediately as they would not be able to access their accounts once the websites are blocked.

A Malaysian Bank Fiasco

Another recent malady which caught the attention of the Malaysian public was the “phishing” scam of a major local bank. This “phishing” scam has now become a major threat to online consumers on an international level.

This “phenomena” operated in a two-fold mechanism: First, an email would be sent claiming to be from the bank that requested its recipients to update their accounts by clicking on a URL link in the email. When this is done, consumers are unawaringly directed to a fake web site that appears similar to the original. The target victim only sees the bank’s Internet address or domain name and not the real site address.

Due to the awareness and capabilities of the Malaysian authority in dealing with IP matters particularly in relation to domain name rights and its enforcements, this “sting” was curbed at the initial stage without affecting the consumers at large.

Importance of IP

These incidents have prompted the Malaysian authorities to drive the vital importance of intellectual property rights such as copyright and branding protection i.e. trademarks, confidential information and data protection, domain name rights, etc. in the cyber law realm through many nationwide IP awareness campaigns and keynotes delivered by Ministry officials as a positive step towards avoiding the recurrences of such scams which, if gone unchecked, would almost culminate in the nation losing the confidence of international traders and investors and becoming a haven for such illegal activities.

Malaysia is definitely on the right track as far as protection and enforcement of one’s IP rights, as the above demonstrates. Further, the availability of local IP practitioners who are well conversant with local as well as international laws governing IP matters gives encouragement to international investors, traders and affected entities who endeavor to protect these valuable intangible rights

These alarming malpractices, which have gained the attention of local consumers as well as international investors who have targeted Malaysia as one of South East Asia’s developing trading hub, have prompted the government to take stringent, no nonsense measures to eradicate this menace.

The events portrayed above clearly demonstrates the nation’s positive response in opposing such “tricks” and boosting confidence towards trade activities not only confined to Malaysia, but to the Asian region as well.

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