Beware of this new modus online

Scammers have existed since time memorial and have managed to utilize different channels including the internet. With the rise of e-commerce, scammers have taken a keen interest in using these sites to victim unsuspecting people. The prospect of winning a random prize is one of the most attractive for unwary users.

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A new modus has been spotted recently where e-commerce sites are the ground zero, with alleged representatives of these sites making suspicious claims. The modus operandi goes like this:

  1. A representative will cold-call a random person stating that he/she stands as an official rep for certain company or an international courier service.
  2. The representative then tells the cold-called victim that they won a prize via random raffle. The representative then announces from which company/e-commerce site he/she is from as well as the alleged prize, and further states that the victim can only claim the prize once the processing fee has been paid which is around P600 to P900.
  3. If the alleged representative says that he/she is from an international courier, they will tell the victim that they are not aware of the contents of the package but will give hints that the package itself looks valuable. A delivery charge will then be asked which is usually under P500.
  4. The victim then agrees to the processing fee/delivery charge, eager to ‘have won’ something valuable in exchange for only hundreds of pesos for convenience.
  5. Once the agreed fee is paid, the package arrives only for the victim to discover that the alleged ‘random prize’ is nothing but garbage: either a mystery box that contains worthless items or simply a piece of rock.

Netizens have been posting similar cases of this type of scam where internationally, it is quite a popular lottery winning scams. Only here, this type of scam is tailored to victim the modern Filipino people.

With e-commerce sites such as Shopee and Lazada becoming extremely popular, thanks to the pandemic, it is not unusual for anyone to receive packages from such sites, usually purchased ones.

Unfortunately, with this popularity and reliance of Filipinos to such sites, evil-minded individuals have taken advantage of this by posing as legitimate individuals from small-time or fly-by-night e-commerce operators.

How it starts is quite common: previous records of a customer, eventually potential victim, are studied and then sent with low-value items. Usually, these items are worthless, items that have been long stuck in the warehouse and other wasted inventory. The merchant will then attempt to make the COD delivery.

If the recipient is around to receive the item, they may or may not pay the suspected item. If the addressed recipient is not around but somebody from the same household accepts and pays the ‘fee’, then the scam is a success. Worst, if no one accepts, then the cost of the scam will be the RTS fee or return to sender fee.

Photo from Unsplash

With this type of modus and as much as how we like the convenience brought by online shopping, may we also be very vigilant with such scams. Who knows, you might be the next victim if you’re not very careful with your next transaction.

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