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Malaysia govt warns of imposter website promising Ramadan aid

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Malaysia’s finance ministry has warned TikTok users not to fall for scam posts promoting a Ramadan cash handout that encouraged them to share personal details on an imposter website. While local governments in some parts of Malaysia have offered certain residents a one-off subsidy to mark the Muslim holy month, government spokespersons told AFP the website is not affiliated with official authorities.

“RM500 one-off early Ramadan assistance has started to be rolled out in phases,” reads Malay-language text in a TikTok post from March 4, 2024.

Five hundred Malaysian ringgit is equivalent to 105 dollars.

The post, which has more than 2,200 views, shows a photo of Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and the logo for his “Malaysia Madani” (Civil Malaysia) policy framework (archived link).

The TikTok post urges users to “apply now” through a link in the account’s bio. “God willing 100% success rate,” it adds.

The link leads to a website that asks for users’ name and phone number.

<span>Screenshot of the false post, taken on March 18, 2024</span>

Screenshot of the false post, taken on March 18, 2024

Similar TikTok accounts sharing the scam here, here and here — attracted more than 260,000 views in total.

The accounts began promoting the scam in early March 2024 and attracted hundreds to thousands of followers.

<span>Screenshot of imposter TikTok accounts, taken on March 14. </span>

Screenshot of imposter TikTok accounts, taken on March 14.

A similar Ramadan aid scam circulated on Facebook on 2023.

Cash scams regularly circulate on social media in Malaysia. AFP has previously debunked accounts impersonating government schemes that garnered tens of thousands of followers, such as here and here.

Similarly, the TikTok accounts promoting the Ramadan cash handout in 2024 are not affiliated with the Malaysian government.

Ramadan aid

The scam surfaced as the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council (MAIWP) — which is responsible for Islamic affairs in Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya — dished out 500 Malaysian ringgit to eligible residents in those territories.

According to the MAIWP, 32,250 people will receive the cash, which aims to help ease financial burdens, especially “in preparation for the month of Ramadan and fasting” (archived link).

The handout is only available for people who receive aid under the council’s monthly livelihood allowance, it said.

An MAIWP representative confirmed to AFP on March 22, 2024 that the website promoted in the TikTok posts was not affiliated with them.

Furthermore, the bottom of the imposter website shows the usernames of the finance ministry’s official social media platforms, including X account @MOFMalaysia and Facebook page Kementerian Kewangan (archived links here and here).

A spokesperson for the ministry told AFP on March 21, 2024 that the site was a scam and was not affiliated with the ministry or the government.

The finance ministry also warned on its official Facebook page that the site was “fake” (archived link).

“Visit the official portal and follow the official social media channels of the Ministry of Finance for the latest accurate information,” it posted on March 21, 2024.

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