Officials are cautioning the public to be alert about the increasing number of fake 'Datuks' who buy their titles online
According to The Star, the Council of Federal Datuks of Malaysia (MDPM) said they have been receiving complaints of bogus titles being sold on Facebook, WhatsApp, and e-commerce stores.
Executive-council member Datuk Samson David Maman cited a complaint that there is one particular 'association' selling all kinds of Datuk paraphernalia such as credentials, medals, and car emblems to frauds for about RM80,000 to RM120,000 per Datukship.
He warned that other than receiving the title from the Agong, sultans, or governors of Malaysia, these would not only be fake but also illegal
Items bearing honorific titles made to mislead people into believing individuals are Datuks, such as medals and car emblems, are also illegal.
People reportedly pay dubious sources to get a Datukship not only for personal ego, but mainly for business purposes and instant recognition, he added.
Samson advised the public that the best way to verify the legitimacy of an individual's title is by checking with their respective state authorities.
Alternatively, he also suggested that people can check the Ceremonial and International Conference Secretariat Division's official website to see if someone is a real Datuk
The website by the Prime Minister's Department offers an online service to the public to check and verify recipients of awards conferred by the Agong, sultans, or governors in Malaysia.
You can either key in a name in the 'Carian' search box or choose a person's State (Peringkat), Title (Anugerah), and Year Awarded (Tahun Kurniaan) to see if they are in the list.
Find the checker here.
The MDPM also advises those who believe that they have been fooled by a fake Datuk to make a police report against the individual
The council said they will then work with relevant state authorities to verify the legitimacy of the person's title.
Samson said convicted offenders can be fined RM20,000, imprisoned up to three years, or both, under the Emblems and Names (Amendment) Act.
Meanwhile, those guilty of soliciting awards and trying to sell fake titles can face up to 20 years in jail under the Awards Act 2017.
At the moment, the government is also planning to set up a national registry of genuine title holders through the Ministry of Home Affairs. Members will be vetted before being issued a special card as proof of their legitimate titles.