MANILA, Philippines – Discounts, price drops and the likes are a hit this season as people are busy buying gifts for their loved ones.
Consumers still prefer mall shopping to personally feel the festive mood, but online shopping is also becoming more popular because of the hassle-free, more convenient shopping experience it offers.
But authorities advise shoppers, as well as online sellers, to be vigilant when transacting business online because scammers have become ‘techy’ in executing their modus operandi.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) cited as an example, the ‘fake deposit slip’ scam which mostly victimizes online sellers.
Anna Magkawas has been a seller of branded celebrity bags and shoes online.
It wasn’t the first time that she had been scammed by bogus buyers who presented fake receipts and compelled her to send the items right away even before she verified the payment.
In total, she has lost P200,000 worth of luxury items to scammers.
“Reseller siya kasi so nagre-resell siya ng mga items mo. Minsan nagli-lay-away. Papartial-partial lang ang payment so hindi mo iisipin talaga na scammer. Ang fault ko lang talaga noon di ko nacheck ng mabuti kung talagang pumasok iyong amount na sinend niya kasi nga before, sa sobrang busy, hindi ko nakaugalian na magcheck lagi ng account online,” Anna said.
Just recently, Anna was almost scammed again when another bogus buyer posted an order.
“Pero iyon naman nacheck ko naman kaagad sa account ko na wala talagang pumasok. Tapos minsan naisip ko baka delay lang naman iyong online system ng bank pero iyong iba nagchecheck ako eh, iyong iba pumapasok naman so di talaga ko pumayag. Sabi ko: ‘Sis wala talagang pumasok na money,’” Anna recounted.
According to the NBI Cybercrime Division, they have recorded more than 500 cases of computer-related fraud or complaints this year.
However, the agency believes that there are still more people like Anna who fall prey to online scammers and have no courage to report to authorities.
Authorities advise online sellers not to trust online buyers easily.
‘Dapat kapag nag deposit sa iyo, you have to verify it with the bank. Huwag kang eager-beaver na maniwala at i-send kung pwede mo naman itanong sa bangko. Kapag kasi substantial iyong amount, material sa iyo, iyong amount or iyong value ng ibenebenta mo, ganoon din dapat kataas iyong level of checks na ginagawa mo,’ explained NBI Cybercrime Division Chief Victor Lorenzo.
“Isa lang ang palagi nating sinasabi diyan. When it is too good to be true, it is not true. Kapag laging may sense of urgency nagmamadali iyong nagbebenta o bibili, ayun iyong first red flag,” he advised.
Lorenzo added that fake transactions can be discerned if the person you are transacting with shows no activity on his or her social media account.
It is always best to double check on the authenticity of the social media account.
The NBI encourages the public to report any incident of online fraud so that others may be warned and legit sellers and buyers will not be affected.
‘We encourage the public to file a formal complaint with us dahil nga natututo din kami na may bagong modus operandi. Pangalawa hindi naman lahat iyan masosolve namin hindi namin mapangako na masosolve iyan. Ang masasabi lang namin, sooner or later iyan mga scammer na iyan mahuhuli at mahuhuli din iyan dahil hindi sila titigil,’ Lorenzo concluded. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Mai Bermudez)