Online scams amid year-end shopping season

A recent example of scammers’ modus operandi to take note of is scammers tricking buyers into transacting payments outside the platform


ONLINE fraud and scams are increasingly rampant, especially during the year-end shopping season with large-scale online shopping campaigns like 9.9, 11.11 and 12.12, according to e-commerce platform Shopee.

While the increased availability of online shopping makes for greater convenience, it also makes it more lucrative for scammers to trick buyers into paying for goods they won’t receive or obtaining their personal data for financial gain.

It’s easy to get so carried away with the flurry of shopping activities, which consumers may fall prey to an online scam.

“Some recent example of scammers’ modus operandi to take note of is scammers tricking buyers into transacting payments outside the platform.

“Upon being offered a ‘special’ price or discount on the item, the buyer is then asked by the seller to make payment via online banking or ATM (automated teller machine) transfer to the scammer’s account directly instead of purchasing it via the platform.

“By doing so, (it) will make it impossible to trace the transaction without the help of the bank and authorities,” Shopee said in a statement recently.

Another example of scammers tricking buyers during the online shopping season is by requesting buyers to share their one-time password (OTP) under the pretence of confirming the purchase.

“In actuality, it is an attempt to hijack the buyers’ account via a password reset that triggers the OTP to be generated in the first place.

“If the OTP is shared, scammers can then take control of the buyers’ account and fake completing a transaction on the platform.

“This automatically releases the payment to the ‘seller’ without actually fulfilling the order,” Shopee said. Shopee also highlighted that in some cases, the scammers would already have the victim’s bank account, credit or debit card details.

“They will then contact the victim via WhatsApp, stating that they have registered the wrong phone number by accident, keying in the victim’s number instead.

“To complete the purchase, the scammer needs the OTP that has been sent to the victim.

“Upon sharing the OTP, the scammer will go on to complete an unauthorised purchase,” it said.

With such prevailing incidents happening across its platform, Shopee reminds users to never entertain calls from individuals impersonating a bank officer or the authorities.

This includes individuals claiming that users have been summoned to a court proceeding, individuals claiming of involvement in fraudulent activities and individuals requesting for users’ mobile numbers and OTP.

However, Shopee further protects its buyers through its Guarantee Policy, where payment to sellers is withheld until the buyer has confirmed the received order is correct and in good condition.

If users make payment via online banking or credit/debit cards, they would have to complete the transaction via a 3D Secure payment gateway on Shopee.

3D Secure (three-domain structure), also known as payer authentication, is a security protocol that helps prevent fraud in online credit and debit card transactions.

An OTP is required to complete the transaction, in which this authentication process is prompted by the bank, thereby making online shopping safe.

As the year-end shopping spree continues, Shopee has urged its users to stay vigilant and report any suspicious activities pertaining to and on the platform.