The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) has appealed to the public to exercise increased caution before transferring money to anyone in order to avoid cyber-scams.

In a March 22 notice, the central bank mentioned recent incidents involving fraudsters cheating victims out of money on Telegram, Facebook and TikTok by impersonating the victim’s family members or friends by hacking accounts to send messages or using AI voice impersonation software to request money.

“I ask members of the public to keep their personal account information safe and seek to understand how to use digital financial services. They must exercise increased caution before transferring money via mobile phones or online accounts or agents. They have to verify the phone numbers, the account numbers and ID cards of recipients as thoroughly as possible,” said the notice.

Cambodia Microfinance Association (CMA) spokesman Kaing Tongngy said his association found that scams on social media became widespread during the Covid-19 pandemic.

After the intervention of authorities and warnings from banks and lenders via the media, the fraudulent activity was reduced, but now it has picked up again.

He said the CMA and its 126 members have always spread the word about scams to clients and members of the public by running training courses.

He continued that the scams were of concern to the CMA because it negatively affected the livelihoods of people and costs them their savings and income when they are deceived.

Tongngy asked that victims file a complaint and report the case to authorities.

“We are very much concerned about these problems because those criminals have even disguised themselves as members of the CMA. So, it undermines public trust in our financial system if our people cannot distinguish between criminals and legal microfinance institutions,” he said.