The Digital Era has allowed us to get everything we need with just a tap on the screen or click of a mouse through online shopping. With social media platforms supporting the concept of online marketplaces, many buyers are tempted to purchase their goods on the internet.
However, the increasing number of online shoppers also means an increasing opportunity for cyber criminals to do their illegal online activities. Such is the case with a 17-year old online buyer who got scammed after sending her payment through a remittance center.
Steph Ang saw a post on a Facebook Buy and Sell Group selling Instax camera which she intended to buy as a gift to a friend. The post was made by “Fatima Bautista” who claimed to be from Ilagan City.
Ang communicated with her via private message, with the seller informing her that the product was ready for shipment. The money was sent to ‘Angelo Mabad,’ who was said to be the seller’s boyfriend.
Unfortunately, Ang could no longer contact ‘Fatima’ after the money was claimed and she never received the product. (Source: ABS-CBN News)
According to NBI Agent Victor Lorenzo of the National Bureau of Investigation Digital Forensic Laboratory (NBI-DFL), there are several ways to apprehend the suspect.
“Puwede mo namang itanong kung saan iyan na-claim para ma-confirm natin na online scam ‘yan. Kasi definitely nag-provide ‘yan ng ID. Du’n natin maa-identify kung ano ang pangalan niya at ano’ng grupo niya,” says Lorenzo.
He adds that scammers do not usually go far from their ‘comfort area’ of locations which are often near the money remitters. It means that once the branch where the money was claimed is found, the NBI can investigate which group operates on that area.
Lorenzo also reminded buyers to not easily trust online sellers or immediately send payment without doing some background check. It also helps to check if the Facebook Account of the sellers has been recently created.
He suggested meeting up with the seller instead of sending payments through remittance centers.
“Usually kasi ang minimum security requirement lang sa remittance centers ay ID. Ang problema hindi naman nila ma-verify kung totoong ID ang pinipresinta sa kanila. Iba-iba ang security protocols na sinusunod nila. ‘Yung iba lax,” he added.
Victims of online scams can file their complaints through the Philippine National Police – www.pnpacg.ph, hotline number 7230401 loc 5313 or e-mail at [email protected] or the NBI Cybercrime Division Tel: (632)523-8231 to 38 local 3454, 3455 Email: [email protected]