The amount of money defrauded by scammers from the public, since the Police started keeping records, has exceeded MVR 150 million, the agency said.

Speaking at a press conference held at Iskander Barracks on Wednesday, Superintendent of Police Abdulla Rasheed, the Head of the Economic Crime Department, said multiple cases of scams have been reported to the agency.

“Since 2021, when we started keeping records, we have received 28,003 cases; 28,003 cases of various types of scams with a total loss of MVR 57.8 million. Not just Maldivian Rufiyaa it includes US dollars; around US$ 64 lakhs,” Rasheed said.

Of the total MVR 156 million recorded as defrauded through scams, only MVR 1 million has been recovered, he said.

Rasheed went on to explain the most common cases of scams as;

  • Claiming a flat, or land, has been awarded through phone calls
  • Links sent to a phone to hack into personal information or personal accounts
  • Text messages claiming to be running a promotion or offering prizes
  • Mobile phone reloads
  • Calls from unknown numbers pretending to be a family acquaintance or friend asking to deposit money into a bank account
  • Claiming to be selling US dollars on various social media platforms
  • Selling illicit goods or services on social media platforms
  • Selling various goods on social media platforms
  • Scan & Pay and OTP
  • ESIMS exchanges
  • Using social causes, such as Palestine Fund

Rasheed said the police are conducting various public awareness programmes in collaboration with relevant agencies and companies to reduce the number of victims of scams, with the programmes largely yielding positive results. However, he noted that there are complications because scammers adapt quickly when one opportunity is shut down, moving quickly to another setup.

Sharing statistics on scam-related crimes, Rasheed said there were fewer scam cases reported last year than in 2022, when 1,087 cases were recorded — compared to 971 in 2023. However, he noted that the amount of money defrauded last year was higher than the previous year.

Rasheed noted that a number of thefts had been committed in early 2023 by hacking bank accounts and taking over people’s accounts.

There are challenges in investigating scams, Rasheed said, adding that multiple efforts have been under way since last year to overcome the challenges and reduce the number of scams.