By Bobo Tan
23 July 2018 19:06
Scams have been around since human develop currency and trade. A fraudulent act to deceive and profit from victims who may not always be as gullible and naïve as you think. One of the earliest scams recorded in history was the Poyais Scam. In which Sir Gregor Macgregor, has managed to fool investors and settlers in the 19th century into buying non-existent bonds and land certificates from a fictitious nation of Poyaisian. The scam was further supported by a book he published with promise of a nation with plenty of natural resources including gold and silver. Eventually his scam came to light when settlers arrived on the island which was uninhabitable with no sight of the promises he made. Only 60 out of the 240 settlers survived with only 50 returning to London to tell the tale.
Although awareness is always being spread, scammers are becoming more creative in their deceptive actions. It was reported by The Star in 2016, that the top three scams in Malaysia are ‘work from home’ frauds (30%), internet auctions scams (22%), and online dating scams (20%). With more and more Malaysian having access to the internet, new users become an easy target even with efforts to raise awareness. Here are some tell-tale signs that it is probably too good to be true.
Work from home: Pay us, to train you to work for us.
Whereas there are many legitimate ‘work from home’ jobs thanks the advent of the internet, it is worth noting the signs of the fraud are in the detail. Learn to ask the right questions during the interviews. While these interviews tend to be done online, it becomes more credible over video or a voice call. Nonetheless a scammer can still cleverly set up one, and you shouldn’t let your guard down just because you have seen your employer. Check the details of your job scope, job responsibility and what is expected of you. It does not hurt to ask how much you will be compensated for your work and how does the company profit.
A legitimate company will never ask a potential employee to pay for a certificate or course in order for you to do your job at the company. Common sense also dictates that you should never share your financial information unless you have confirmed that the company does exist. Try googling their company, headquarters and office, it can give you further information about the legitimacy of the employer. If they require you to pay them in order for them to hire you, it’s probably a scam.
Internet auction scams: Is that what you paid for?
Internet auction scams can normally result in two results. One, the item is never delivered even after you have paid in full for it. The item will never arrive because it is non-existent or the item that arrive is not what you paid for. They may have swapped the item you ordered for a counterfeit item or even replace with a non-functional one. Make a report with the website you purchased from as well as with the authorities. Please note before you lament that is futile to report it to the website, it will at least alert the website administrators about the seller’s wrongdoings.
Always purchase from legitimate auction websites. Try to purchase from sellers that have good reputation and are highly ranked. Trackable means of payments is almost a must against fraud and be clear about the item details before bidding.
Online dating service: Google the term ‘catfish’
This scam usually targets lonely man or woman using online dating sites. They can either pretend to be someone they are not or can be actually be using their own picture but with a fake name. The latter is easier to catch, but they usually find means to make you give them money willingly that are in the legal grey areas. Online dating service scammers are ‘professionals’ when it comes to approaching their victims. Seemly having a lot in common or having an extra caring personality. Often, they are willing to spend their time to get close to their victims before asking for money.
They have gotten so good that it is hard to tell them apart from legitimate users. A good rule of thumb is to never spend money on them unless you have completely verified their existence. Even then set a limit of how much you are willing to spend on this person. Examples of scam scenarios are those that ask for money to fly over to see victims only to never appear or asking for more with excuses of being stuck in an airport. Love is blind but it shouldn’t cost you too much money.
Internet scammers have come a long way since the days of the Nigerian prince you needs your help getting money out. It is however still surprising that people fall for variations of these kind of scams today.