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Online shoppers warned of cunning tricks

Along with the popularity of online shopping in Vietnam come several cunning tricks of criminals to steal money from consumers. 

 In such a high shopping season at the end of the lunar year, carelessness of both buyers and sellers could cost them dearly.

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Consumers are comparing goods prices and reading comments on online shopping platforms. (Photo: SGGP)

Dao Thi Trang from Yen Khanh District of Ninh Binh Province has been captured and prosecuted by the Police Security Department of Khanh Hoa Province for her scamming activity.

She purposely created a series of accounts on social networks under the names of ‘Thuc Pham Dong Lanh XnK’, ‘Thu Thao’, ‘Thao Dong Lanh’ to market frozen food with low prices. L.T.B. from Khanh Hoa Province ordered 5.4 tonnes of buffalo meat at the end of August 2021 and was asked by Trang to deposit over VND500 million (approx. US$22,000). Having received that sum, Trang blocked B’s phone number and did not allow his truck to transport the meat from her warehouse. Aware that he was tricked, B reported to the local police.

20-year-old Pham Vu Quang Truong from Tien Giang Province has been detained by the Police Security Department of Dak Lak for further investigation on his scamming activity. His normal work is to offer marketing services on Facebook such as increasing the number of ‘Like’ and ‘View’, online advertising. He then hacked into the accounts of his 400 clients and sent various messages to the victims’ friends to borrow VND10 billion ($440,660) in total.

There is also the common ‘COD Shipping’ fraudulence during shopping seasons, with criminals saying that they are representatives of certain companies wanting to buy goods. They orally agree with sellers to increase the prices written in bills under the form of COD (Cash on delivery) service. The sellers then receive the advance payment (greater than products’ value) from a shipping company and transfer this difference to the buyers as agreed before.

However, when the shipping company reports that it cannot deliver goods because there is no one with the name in the bill, the sellers have to return the advance payment, and thus losing the difference transferred to the criminals.

Another popular scam is when criminals first order some goods online. They then capture the screen of their mobile phone showing valid information about a successful money transfer from their bank account to the sellers’ ones.

Due to carelessness, the sellers does not check every detail on this unclear image, and ship the goods to those criminals. When being asked why the transferred money is nowhere to be seen, the criminals blame on network errors. If goods are successfully delivered, the scam is done.

One more well-known trick lately is fake SMS from banks saying there are changes in the active accounts of users, with a link to refuse this supposedly wrongness. When message receivers click on that link, they are told to fill in the online form with their own sensitive information like usernames, passwords, OTP codes, which enable the criminals to take full control of the victims’ bank accounts to steal money easily.

To protect consumers’ right, Vietnam E-Commerce and Digital Economy Agency (under the Industry and Trade Ministry) warns that online shoppers only carry out transactions on reliable websites registered with the Industry and Trade Ministry.

In addition, shopping websites must publicly display necessary information such as store name, valid addresses and phone numbers, store tax code, return and refund policy, delivery methods, payment methods, information security policy.

It is advisable against buying goods from fanpages with no clear contact information of sellers. Moreover, social network users are suggested by cyber security experts to find out sufficient identity data of a person before agreeing to add him or her into their friendlist. They should be cautious with marketing people on social networks and verify the content of any emails or messages carefully before clicking any given links.

Lastly, it is not wise to believe emails or messages of unclear origin saying that there are presents or rewards awaiting to be received as long as people transfer an amount of money to a bank account or via a mobile phone card.

Source: Sai Gon Giai Phong

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