US officials say that Malaysia is becoming a hub for people perpetrating cyber-crime like online dating scams.
A report by Reuters says that Nigerian men are travelling to Malaysia on student visas and taking advantage of the country’s sophisticated banking system, which makes it easy to set up accounts to receive international bank transfers.
Last December, local Malaysian media quoted police saying the number of internet scams had doubled in 2013, with total losses reaching $11m.
Police said they had apprehended 476 people on suspected involvement, but US officials said they don’t have the necessary resources to tackle the problem, and haven’t launched a prosecution case involving a US victim yet.
Reuters spoke to Tim Scherer, consul general at the US Embassy, who said that 80% of inquiries at the Kuala Lumpur embassy were complaints about online scams.
“These are not rich widows who are being preyed on, these are middle-class Americans who don’t have this kind of money to spare.
“It can really transform their lives in a very terrible way.”
Malaysia has tried to make the country an education hub, by attracting international students, with many universities setting up campuses there.
It is this policy which scammers are exploiting, and the ministry of education said that out of the 123,000 overseas students currently in the country, 9,146 of them are Nigerian.