PETALING JAYA: Scammers are aggressively using social media to lure Employees Provident Fund (EPF) members into withdrawing savings earlier than they are eligible to.
The syndicate targeted contributors who were desperate for quick cash, and in return asked for 30% to 60% in commission from the withdrawal amount.
It even blatantly used the EPF logo on its social media account in its bid to dupe the public.
“Many are in need of money. To those who have more than RM150,000 savings in their EPF account, please e-mail all your personal details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Financial freedom is in your hands. Apply with us and we guarantee that your application will be approved 100%,” read an advertisement posted on Facebook.
The syndicate claimed it would be able to provide the necessary certificates for housing, education, incapacitation and health, among others, to help members withdraw their savings from EPF before they reach eligibility.
It is believed that the syndicate was in cahoots with some private colleges and medical practitioners to forge documents for such purposes. The syndicate posted several false testimonials on its account to show that some members have been receiving monthly payments from the fund.
It also openly recruited agents in various states, including Perak, Penang, Kedah and Perlis, offering a high commission if they succeeded in getting clients.
However, despite all that, the scammers have not been able to overcome the safeguards by EPF.
EPF deputy CEO (operations) Datuk Mohd Naim Daruwish said it has a comprehensive system to check and detect attempts at fraudulent withdrawals.
“We would like to warn such syndicates that we are aware of their scam. We hope members will not fall victim to their tricks. This is your hard-earned money for your retirement, why should you hand it over to the syndicates?” he told The Star in an interview recently.
EPF, he said, has an internal committee to monitor such cases online.
“We are monitoring all of them now and if we suspect anything, we will immediately lodge a report with the police and cooperate with the relevant authorities,” said Mohd Naim.
He added that those eligible should go to EPF directly as it does not impose any charges to process their withdrawals.
In 2015, EPF recorded 85 cases of attempted fraudulent withdrawals, followed by 152 cases last year and 63 cases as of June this year.
EPF did not reveal the total amount targeted.
Of the 63 attempts this year, most involved withdrawals for housing (41 cases), followed by incapacitation (10), education (six) and health (six).
Offenders can be charged under Section 59 of the EPF Act 1991 for making unlawful withdrawals, said Mohd Naim.
Under the Act, those found guilty of fraudulent withdrawals are liable to a maximum of three years’ jail or RM10,000 fine, or both.