By Tiffany Gwee
Thinking of doing online shopping from a dubious or questionable online source? You might want to think again before purchasing.
Rapid rise in cases
In January and February earlier this year, there were already 77 reported cases of online scams – this is nearly twice the number from the same months last year. Additionally, it had been reported that there was a spike in online gadget scams from 17 cases in 2012 to 231 cases last year. It is probable that this is set to rise this year.
Cautioning the public
The police have encouraged all online shoppers to be careful when doing their purchases online.
Police told local news sources that “taking precaution” would have to involve not giving out bank account numbers, credit card details and personal information, checking the sellers’ track record, or finding more by contacting the sellers themselves.
They also urged the public “not to help those they have met online to make fund transfers, as they may be aiding and abetting a criminal in receiving the proceeds from a crime”.
Blogshops get scammed too?
With the rapid rise in such cases, there is definitely a need to pay more attention to who exactly you are buying from online. It can be said that it is not only the customers that should be wary, but also the ‘blogshop’ or ‘instashop’ (instagram shop) owners as well.
Instashop (@mintdaisies_) owner Miss Kimberlyn Lee was also a victim of a case that involved 30 other customers late last year. There were other instashops or blogshops involved in the scam. She ordered a Polaroid camera from the seller but only to find out that the seller disappeared soon after she transferred the money. $70 is already considered much less compared to others – there was another instashop owner who lost approximately $900 due to the scam.
The victims then all managed to report the case to the Police. “The person was caught and I believe she’s serving a few months in prison. She returned the money to the buyers who reported her.”
When asked about how someone can be more wary of the online shops they purchase from, Kimberlyn said that it is “best to purchase from more well-known online shops” and “those with a well-established reputation”. It might also be useful to check for reviews and comments about the shop and owner.
“Just be aware of who you are dealing with! If you are unsure of whether the online shop you are purchasing from is a scam, you can test it out first by maybe buying something of a small amount.”
What you should do if scammed
If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation of being a victim in the case of online scams, it is best that you report it to the Police. There are 2 options – one is to visit any Police station personally to file a report or the other option is to file it online.
One should not be afraid to report about the scam, no matter how small the case is as there might be others who were involved in it as well. It is also to prevent the seller from cheating other customers in the future.
Click here to access the Electronic Police Centre
Click here to access the opening times and contact number of all Police divisions in Singapore