Careless social media users allow online scams to flourish

Social media users are not being careful enough while Internet fraud gets increasingly sophisticated, the Hanoi Public Security Department has warned. 

One example is an online scam carried out by Nguyen Tuan Linh, a 29-year-old native of Thanh Hoa Province, which was discovered recently by the Hi-tech Crime Prevention (PC50) division of the capital city’s police department. 

Linh claimed on Facebook that he imports Chinese products and sells them at cheaper than market prices, tricking gullible customers into ordering products and paying for them via bank transfer. Within two months, Linh had defrauded five customers to the tune of around 180 million VND (8,100 USD). 

Earlier this year, in April, the division discovered that Nguyen Van Hao, 23, a resident of Vinh Phuc Province, used a website to get money from mobile phone users. 

Hao advertised on the website that if mobile phone users topped up their mobile phone accounts via the website, they would get 10 times more credit. He made 116 million VND (5,200 USD) from the scam. 

Other common types of online fraud are selling ‘lucky’ mobile phone numbers or cheap plane tickets or raising business capital online. 

Most online fraud cases violated Article 226 of the national Penal Code for illegally posting or using information on the Internet and the telecommunication network, officials said. 

Ha Thi Thu Hang, deputy head of the division, told Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper that it has become common that scammers not only spread false, shocking, misleading information but also take advantage of social media platforms to steal money from their users. 

Since the beginning of this year, the division has handled 23 online scammers and handed over several more cases to other responsible agencies. Fifty percent of the cases succeed in getting cash in hand. 

The fact that Facebook is based in another country, and social media users are not restricted in terms of age, gender, occupation and education, makes identification difficult. Meanwhile the scams are getting more and more common and complicated. 

“There are too many social media users, but their awareness of online scams is low, making it easy for them to fall into traps,” she added. 

She advised that social media users increase the security level of their accounts so that scammers can’t steal their online identities for nefarious purposes.

Social media users should also beware of unclear, misleading information and check it before responding, commenting or sharing.

With online competitions, asking netizens to pay fees or taxes with scratch cards before receiving prizes is the most obvious sign of a scam. Government agencies do not collect tax through any intermediary. Prize winners are required to pay fees and taxes at tax or customs agencies.


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