Scammers are on the prowl as the world's biggest online shopping event lures in thousands of consumers raring to go on a virtual shopping spree. Singles Day, which happens today, had an early kick start over the past week as this year is expected to break record sales and purchases across Asia despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
The event has become a huge playground for scammers over the years and has pushed these fraudsters into more innovative ways to trick consumers. Police forces in the provinces of Anhui, Jiangsu and Sichuan have already issued warnings on popular Chinese social media platform Weibo regarding these scams.
Victims receive calls from a customer service officer of an e-commerce website informing them of a recent purchase that has been either damaged or out of stock. As a means to compensate for this, they offer the victim a refund which is usually more than the amount paid for the product. The conversation then leads the victim to provide bank account information for the refund to be processed. the BBC reported.
According to police reports, they have received many complaints over the past few weeks during the pre-Singles Day sales.
One woman was reported to have lost a total of 2,000,000 yuan (£ 22,900) after being tricked with the refund scam. She was offered a refund of 200 yuan worth of clothes she purchased on e-commerce platform Taobao. After being told that there were problems with their system, and that she had to pay a certain fee to unfreeze her account, the woman ended up transferring money multiple times.
A popular modus in 2018 had fake customer service officers offering refunds on clothes "ruined" by formaldehyde where victims are conned into scanning a QR code that required bank details.
Counterfeit shopping apps made to look and function like the real app have also sprung. A Chinese online security firm reported there were nearly 4,000 fake shopping apps downloaded in November 2018 from about 30,000 mobile phone users in China.
A cash-on-delivery fraud is also making rounds with victims asked to pay up cash upon signing delivered packages.
Police are reminding consumers to never give away personal information and bank details over the phone. They say that most refund scams always offer more than what was paid while phishing scams usually redirect consumers to other landing pages.