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Be Alert Of Scammers, Invest Wisely, EPF Members Told

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PETALING JAYA – Professionals in the prime of their careers, educated youngsters and those nearing retirement, are being targeted by get-rich-quick scammers.

Securities Commission (SC) deputy general manager Khairul Ridzwan Abdul Kudus (pix) said successful men in their 40s are vulnerable because they have the money.

Youngsters, especially university students and fresh graduates, are recruited to “sell” investments and to invest in the scheme themselves, he added.

“Employees Provident Fund (EPF) members who reach the full withdrawal age of 55 should also be wary of scammers trying to con them of their retirement fund.

“With the Internet, foreigners can easily target Malaysians via e-mails, websites and social media,” he said, adding that scam trends move with whatever’s hot in the market.

EPF quantitative and performance analysis department head Badrul Hisham Dahalan urged members to enhance their financial literacy and investment knowledge and get enough information before investing.

“Always exercise due care. Get advice and details from qualified advisers or financial planners.

“There’s no guarantee that investments will be profitable,” he said.

To help them meet their financial goals, the EPF lets members diversify their retirement portfolio via the Members Investment Scheme (MIS).

Effective January next year, members who have a “Basic Savings” of RM228,000 can transfer 30% – an increase from the current 20%, in excess of the amount required (from Account I), into fund management institutions to optimise their investments.

Khairul Ridzwan said the SC was not worried about MIS scams because it works closely with the EPF to make sure that money is transferred directly from the EPF to the licensed funds.

Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) secretary-general Datuk Paul Selvaraj warned consumers against using their retirement savings to invest, unless they are willing to take the risk and responsibility of monitoring their investments.

According to the Federation of Investment Managers Malaysia (FIMM), misappropriation of funds by consultants of Private Retirement Scheme (PRS) and unit trust is the main complaint among consumers.

If any of the country’s 50,000-odd consultants are found guilty of receiving cash and embezzlement, they will be de-registered and barred from dealing with investors indefinitely, the FIMM spokesman said.

Investors must never pre-sign or place their thumbprints on investment forms to transfer funds from the EPF account to the PRS or unit trust fund under the MIS, he said.

“Some unscrupulous consultants are using the forms to further invest without telling the investor,” he said, adding that the FIMM has a complaints management and disciplinary committee that gathers evidence whenever a complaint is lodged.

Securities Industry Dispute Resolution Centre (SIDREC) CEO Sujatha Sekhar Naik said since 2011, it has received more than 1,000 enquiries and claims.

“Most cases involve mis-selling, disclosure issues, and investors making mistakes when conducting online transactions.

“Investors want to make money but refuse to put in any effort to understand and monitor their investments,” she added.

As of Sept 1 this year, a total of 113 cases were reported. – The Star Online

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