Online scams have become a global problem. The latest annual study by the Global Anti-Scam Alliance (GASA) and ScamAdviser paints a devastating picture of the worldwide onslaught of scams, highlighting an urgent need for vigilance. The Global State of Scams 2023 Report, which involved 49,459 people from 43 countries, showed a substantial 25.5 percent of citizens around the world lost money to scams or identity theft in the last 12 months, resulting in financial losses estimated at $1.026 trillion.
Here’s an alarming sign that Internet scams are getting out of hand—scammers are using the United Nations to swindle people. This prompted the UN to issue a Fraud Alert:
“The United Nations wishes to warn the public about the fraudulent activities being perpetrated purportedly in the name of the Organization, and/or its officials, through different fraud schemes. The United Nations does not charge a fee at any stage of its recruitment and procurement process. The UN does not request any information related to bank accounts or other private information. It does not offer prizes, awards, funds, certificates, automated teller machine [ATM] cards, compensation for Internet fraud, or scholarships, or conduct lotteries. It does not approve military vacations or pensions, or release packages in exchange for a fee.”
The United Nations strongly recommends that the recipients of solicitations, such as those described above, exercise extreme caution in respect of such solicitations. Financial loss and identity theft could result from the transfer of money or personal information to those issuing such fraudulent correspondence. Victims of such scams may also report them to their local law enforcement authorities for appropriate action.
Who gets scammed? We are all continuously being exposed to scams, according to GASA. Here’s the sad part: Worldwide, only 0.05 percent of all cybercrimes are prosecuted.
The Philippines has attained the unfortunate distinction of having the highest shopping scam rate among 11 Asian countries, with the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC) issuing this warning to the Filipino public: Exercise caution when engaging in online shopping this holiday season. Citing data from the 2023 Asia Scam Report, CICC Executive Director Alexander K. Ramos said the shopping scam rate in the Philippines has reached an alarming 35.9 percent. He emphasized the need for vigilance, especially during the holiday season when shopping scams tend to peak. (Read the BusinessMirror report, “PHL has highest shopping scam rate in Asia–report,” November 24, 2023).
The Asia Scam Report is a comprehensive survey conducted by GASA and Gogolook, encompassing data from nearly 20,000 respondents across 11 Asian nations: the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam, China, and Indonesia.
The report revealed that 24.8 percent of Filipino victims respond hastily to scammers’ demands, and 21.1 percent take risks despite uncertainties, indicating the need for increased awareness and caution.
Ramos also pointed out that Filipinos’ immediate response to scams and their tendency to believe in false promises make them susceptible to falling victim to such schemes. He appealed to the public to report incidents of shopping scams and other cybercrimes by calling 1326.
The report highlights shopping scams as one of the nine mainstream scam scenarios prevalent across these Asian countries. These scams include identity theft, investment fraud, government and bank scams, job scams, lottery scams, family and relatives scams, bill payment scams, romance scams, and charity scams.
Unfortunately, the victims’ inability to recognize scams was a major factor contributing to their susceptibility, the report said. Other contributing factors include their quick response to the scammer’s demands, being enticed by offered incentives, and taking risks despite uncertainties. Nearly 90 percent of scam victims in Asia could not recoup their financial losses.
The surge in online scams across the region highlights the urgent need for continuous public awareness campaigns and fraud prevention education to help arm the people against the ever-evolving scam tactics. It also underscores the urgent need for a coordinated response from all stakeholders—law enforcement, businesses, and the consumers—to create a powerful anti-scam community.