College students easily fall prey to online shop ratings scam: police

Such scams are currently the third most reported Internet and telecom scams after those related to online shopping and customer services, Shanghai police said.

Online shop ratings scams, where scammers recruit victims using the excuse of making purchases to boost the ratings of online shops, entrap the city’s college students despite intense warnings from police.

Shanghai police said on Wednesday that this group of people remain the major prey of online shop ratings scammers, and that such scams are currently the third most reported Internet and telecom scams after those related to online shopping and customer services.

In suburban Qingpu District, a university freshman reported to police in December last year that she lost 87,000 yuan (US$12,880) before she realized that it was a scam.

The victim, Huang, said she received an email which advertises a profitable moonlighting opportunity and agreed to make purchases of 100,000 yuan on jd.com to get a reward of 8,000 yuan, police said.

Huang revealed her account name and password on jd.com to the scammer, who then loaded 100 yuan of App Store gift cards in her shopping cart for her to pay, before giving her 105 yuan.

Huang then purchased 87,000 yuan of the same product for the scammer before her roommates told her that it could be a scam.

Huang asked for her money back from the scammer but was turned down, which is when she turned to the police.

Fan Hua, a Shanghai police officer who is experienced in combating Internet and telecom fraud, said the police detect up to 1,000 scam SMS messages of this kind every day.

“When we find that such a message is sent to a potential victim’s phone, we send a reminder message from 962110 to the person warning them of the trick,” Fan said.

The number 962110 was introduced by the police in April last year so that they could call potential victims and send SMS messages to them.

Fan said local universities and colleges have cooperated with the police to make it compulsory to educate students at the beginning of every semester, especially their freshmen, on Internet and telecom frauds.

“Some students who end up losing money to scammers told the police that they seemed to have authentic business licenses and screenshots of the shop owners’ web page at an online shopping site, but those could be easily photoshopped,” he said.

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