Perhaps for many of us, getting scammed is akin to the travel situation in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unlikely to happen right now, but might occur in the future. And also really expensive.
There’s definitely the perspective that the gullible elderly are more susceptible to scams, but clearly, this was not the case.
Couple Scammed Over Carousell Staycation
The couple, who were in their 20s, lost S$277,000 to a scammer who sold discounted hotel stays at Marina Bay Sands (MBS).
He had used the platform Carousell to trick them into paying him multiple times using various excuses and ultimately made off with the money.
Even though the couple regularly used the e-commerce platform to purchase staycations, they didn’t realise any red flags. They expressed that they had gone through the seller’s reviews as usual and surprisingly saw that “he was quite reliable,” according to The Straits Times.
Assured, the couple then went on to pay a hefty S$29,000 for their staycations at nine hotel suites.
Unfortunately, this was not the end of their situation.
Using excuses such as cancellation fees and a frozen bank account, the scammer managed to amass S$277,000 from the poor couple over four months.
By showing them the money in his bank account, he was able to convince them that he could pay them back, which led them to give him more money to pay for the made-up excuses.
Thankfully, the 27-year-old man has been arrested on 21 January and charged in court, after being suspected of selling more than S$360k worth of sham MBS hotel packages.
Another Virus on the Rise
Sigh, scams. Just like COVID-19, they’re annoying and take a while to recover from.
2020 saw a record high in the number of e-commerce scams, amounting to a staggering total of S$201 million being cheated.
The Straits Times reported that the number of scams had risen by 65.1% as compared to 2019, with e-commerce scams making up the bulk of it. In fact, Carousell was the top platform for e-commerce scams. Nearly 40% of all reported cases came from there. Yikes.
To read a more in-depth report on the different scams in 2020, click here.
Solutions to Scams?
Fortunately, some online sites have taken the necessary action in order to reduce the likelihood of scams on their platform.
For instance, Lazada has incorporated a verification process that uses algorithms to sieve out potential scammers. The site saw a drastic fall in the number of scams, from 180 to 32, last year.
However, the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) chairman Gerald Singham also explained that while authorities and various marketplaces continue to attempt to stop scammers, some responsibility lies on the individual to remain vigilant online.
The police have recommended the public to increase their buyer protection by choosing payment methods that will be able to prevent the seller from making off with the money. Be wary of better and faster deals as well, as they are a method for the scammer to push for direct payment.
After all, low crime doesn’t mean no crime, so stay observant while shopping online. Though if you aren’t looking to pick a bone with e-commerce scammers, but instead those annoying scam callers, click here to find out more about the Scam Shield app.
Feature Image: fizkes / Shutterstock.com