PETALING JAYA: A retired teacher has warned people to be extra cautious when purchasing things online and to only use trusted websites, after she was scammed while shopping for a sewing machine.
Relating her ordeal, the 67-year-old woman, who only wanted to be known as Beth, said she saw an advertisement on Instagram for the sale of a sewing machine of a well-known brand.
“The sewing machine usually costs over RM1,000 but the advertisement stated it was on sale for RM600.
“I spoke to my husband and both of us decided that it was a good offer, so I proceeded to make a payment. I was then taken to an unfamiliar website and I paid the RM600 for it,” she said when contacted recently.
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She said the process looked legitimate and the website gave her a tracking number in order to check the delivery status.
“Over the next few days, the tracking number showed that the item was picked up by courier service and had passed through Customs checks.
“Then the tracking details showed that the item was successfully delivered. I went out to check my mailbox but there was nothing there,” she said, adding that she then checked the website and it stated that the item was delivered, but there was no link given to report issues with the delivery.
Upset over the incident, Beth tried to go back to the website over the next few days to try to contact the seller but there was no option to do so and several days later, the website vanished and was no longer accessible.
“I spoke with my family and we decided that it was just too much hassle to lodge a police report over the matter as I felt I would never get back the cash.
“Since then I no longer buy anything from websites I don’t trust or from social media,” she said, advising people to be cautious of any advertisements online.
Alliance for A Safe Community chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye believes the government and law enforcement agencies must collaborate to find a solution to stop online scammers.
He urged the government to look at introducing more comprehensive cybersecurity laws to deter scammers.
“Over RM144mil was lost to ecommerce scams in the last eight months, which has already surpassed last year’s losses by over RM56mil.
“There should not be any doubt that ecommerce scams have become a serious problem,” he said when contacted yesterday.
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He said the law enforcement agencies must be one step ahead of the cybercriminals.
“Law enforcement personnel must acquire skills to surpass these criminals and beat them at their own game,” Lee added.
Federal Commercial Crime Investigation Department director Comm Datuk Seri Ramli Mohamed Yoosuf echoed Lee’s call for the introduction of legislation to tackle the problem.
“In keeping with the current technological advancements which include artificial intelligence and online services, laws must be attuned to protect victims of cybercrime.
“We have the Communications and Multimedia Act, and the Penal Code to deal with fraud and criminal breach of trust, but legislative developments in other countries should also be monitored closely and adapted to fit our country,” he said.
Meanwhile, Malaysians Against Rape, Assault and Snatch Theft founder Dave Avran advised the public to stay aware and up-to-date on the modus operandi of such scammers.
“Ecommerce fraud is rapidly developing with new tactics being invented on a regular basis to dupe even the most vigilant shopper,” he said.
Dave said shoppers should only conduct transactions through certified online shopping apps.
He said the popularity of online shopping had resulted in an increase of ecommerce fraud designed to entice potential victims to make payments without getting delivery of the goods or to disclose personal information.
“If you encounter any suspicious ecommerce activity, report it to the nearest police station or via SEMAKMULE (https://semakmule.rmp.gov.my), which is a police platform to check on bank accounts and telephone numbers involved in commercial crimes.
“You can also call the National Scam Response Centre hotline at 997,” he said.