The proliferation of the internet has been one of the great technological advancements of the 21st century. It has improved the flow of information across the globe, transformed the way communication is done between people, and change businesses in ways that we have never imagined.
Yet, there are always people around the world that find ways of abusing something that was originally meant to be good. In recent years, internet scams have started to become more common across the world. People in Singapore have not been spared.
Why use the Internet?
There are many reasons why the internet makes sense for scammers. Similar to other legitimate businesses that are based online, the internet allows scams to be operated cheaply (you just need a website and a Facebook page), quickly, and anonymously.
The best part is that scammers can even scam people anywhere across the world, while enjoying their mojito at some beach in the middle of nowhere.
Ways people are scammed on different platforms
People are scammed all the time across different online channels. The good thing about most scams (not all though) is that scammers are generally not that creative, and would typically prefer to spend their efforts using tried and tested methods. An example would be all the gold buyback scams that have been operating in Singapore for so many years.
The bad thing about these online scams is that most of them are already tried and tested elsewhere. And they are brought in to Singapore because they work well elsewhere.
Here are some common online scams to take note of.
Working from home "job"
The idea of having a job that provides you with flexible working hours while working from home is an extremely appealing one. Not surprisingly, scammers have started to pounce on this common desire that so many people have.
Basically, what they do is advertise on online job portals about possible job openings. This is a neat idea, since they are getting people to apply for these "jobs" rather than to get a salesman to do the scamming. There is little or no cost involved.
What happens thereafter is basically a ponzi scheme. You pay to get included as part of this scheme scam and you get paid when you invite more people to the scheme scam. So yes, the job is flexible and you can indeed work from anywhere. But there is no job whatsoever, unless you consider scamming other people as a job.
This article from Vulcan Post reports it nicely. It is based on a Malaysia operation but there is a great chance that it is merely a matter of time before this appears in Singapore, if it hasn't already been taking place.
Carousell is a great platform for anyone looking to sell his or her 2nd hand items.
Scammers started realizing they could easily make a quick buck or two simply by posing as buyers. What they do is pretend to have made a bank transfer to buy your product (usually an expensive product). Subsequently, they will claim there was an overcharge on their account and that a refund would first have to be made from you to them before the bank releases the balance to you.
If you make the transfer to them, you will never be seeing your money again.
A lady in Singapore shared her experience on this. Read her Facebook Post here.
Online Facebook contest
This is a scam that steals your social media network, rather than your money. Many people fall for it all the time because they do not think it costs them anything.
Basically what happens here is that some fraudster would start a Facebook page posing as a big brand and run an online contest with a giveaway that is too good to be true. We have seen giveaways that include Playstation 4, free air tickets on Emirates and most recently, the giving away of Range Rover cars in Singapore.
These scams work very well with the respective pages gaining thousands of "like" in a matter of a few days. And in case you are wondering, no, these scammers didn't respect Singaporeans and our social media discernment enough to create a new scam by themselves, they simply copied what already worked overseas. Seems like we are a pretty naïve bunch of people on social media.
The thing about these Facebook contests is that even though it cost you technically nothing from a financial point of view to take part, "liking" the contest and "sharing" it on your Facebook page opens up the rest of the people in your social network to the same scam. You are in other words, a brand ambassador of this Facebook scam.
So spend a little effort to think about what you are actually "liking" and "sharing" on Facebook.
What are some other online scams that you encountered? Join this open Facebook Page to share with the rest of Singapore scams that you know of.
DollarsAndSense.sg is a website that provides bite-sized and relevant articles to help Singaporeans make better financial decisions.