Indonesia’s Worst Online Scams (and How to Report Them)

Lazada scam website

Today I received an SMS which claimed to be from Rocket Internet owned online shop Lazada. The SMS talks about “crazy discounts” that you can check out on a Lazada Blogspot page (pictured above).

Yes, it’s very easy for you tech savvy readers to discern that the SMS is a scam, but there are numerous other people in Indonesia who fall prey to these simple tricks. When I accessed the site, the hit counter had already reached 89,000 page-views.

Let me break down a few characteristics of the worst online scams in the country, specifically ones related to e-commerce that seem to be targetting unwary people these days. Here goes:

1. Super good offers which are too good to be true

The SMS I received told me that Lazada was selling several gadgets at crazy discounts. An iPhone 5, which is normally priced at IDR 7 million (US$723), is being sold at half the price, it claimed. There are other offers too, like a simple “You’ve won a brand new car! Check our website for more information about how to claim it.”

If you think that those offers look too good to be true, then it most probably is a scam. If you think you’ve never entered into a contest but have supposedly won something big, then it could well be a scam too.

2. “Please check our blogspot for more information”

The other simple way to tell if something is a scam or not is to look at the website they invite you to see. The one I got linked to was Lazada04.blogspot.com.

Popular online brands like Lazada don’t use free Blogspot addresses like that, so it is definitely a fake. The “Lazada04” name is also an easy tell.

Besides Google-owned Blogspot, there are other free blogging platforms that are commonly used for scams, such as Jimdo and Webs.com. Note that there are reports that the scams have gone up an ante by using paid websites as well, which is similar to phishing scams that lure people to log into fake banking or social media pages.

Genuine offers and prizes will only be announced through the company’s site, or perhaps its official Facebook brand page.

3. “Please call our handphone number”

This is also another obvious tell-tale sign. Big brands do not have mobile numbers, let alone BBM pins. If the contact number is given in such a way, then it ‘s a scam for sure.

These last few months have seen quite a few scams made under the name of Indonesia’s biggest telco, Telkomsel. The best way to know if it’s a telco-related scam is by looking at the contact number. If the message is sent by the telco, then the sender info automatically says that it is from that company, even if you’ve never saved it to your contacts. Or sometimes telcos will use short numbers like 777 in sending those SMSes. If you receive an SMS from a conventional mobile number but it claims to be a telco, then it’s a trick.

This Telkomsel scam site - under the domain name Hadiah-Telkomsel.blogspot.com - is another good example of the worst scam websites in the country. It gives out a handphone number for people to contact, and for God knows why, the site puts pictures of Jakarta governor Joko Widodo alongside former president director of Telkomsel and the national police chief at the bottom of the homepage.

Telkomsel scam website 2 4. “Please claim your prize ASAP or we’ll give it to someone else”

These scammers are pretty good when it comes to manipulating people and making them panic. Very often such offers, especially lottery wins, are only valid for the next couple of days. So ‘winners’ must act fast. Quite a few of these ‘lucky winners’ though, don’t have internet access, and so they will simply call the given number to ask for information. And that is when the scam happens.

Never panic - you need to be fully rational in handling these situations. If you do make the call and the person on the other end asks you to transfer some amount of money first for “administration” or “tax” purposes, you should either hang up the phone immediately or at least swear at that scammer first.

I remember one TV show that explained how a former con man scammed people out of their money. The idea is always the same: promise victims big amounts of cash in an easy way. Be careful when you’re being promised such an offer/prize.

Let’s help report those scammy sites

Those are the common tricks circulating around Indonesia’s booming e-shopping industry right now. Quite a few people always fall for these, so much so that it’s one of the reasons why the government will require Indonesian e-commerce sites to use local data centers and domains.

People do get scammed online. It is quite understandable though because only 30 percent of Indonesians have internet access. Having a lucky break by winning a brand new car is also something that doesn’t happen every day. Curiosity kicks in, combined with lack of internet knowledge (and access), and so there are definitely people getting screwed every day.

We can do a few things to help make the web a safer place for all. First is to help spread the word about the scammy websites and their tricks. Second is to report them to Google with the link here. Third - for Indonesians only - is to email the Indonesian cyber crime police unit at cybercrime at polri dot go dot id. You will need to convey as much information about the scam to the police as possible, including the scammer’s phone number and, if divulged, bank account numbers.

Let’s give those scammers a good lesson in how they can’t ruin the web.

(Featured image source: unsuckdcmetro)


The post Indonesia’s Worst Online Scams (and How to Report Them) appeared first on Tech in Asia.
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