Markets on dark net

Experts warn e-shoppers to be wary of online fraud


Saudi Gazette report

TECHNICAL experts often warn consumers to be wary of online shops that promote their products on social media websites but may not have proper licenses from the authorities to run business operations. Many people have fallen victim to these shops and have been conned out of money.

According to report in Al-Riyadh newspaper several experts have called on the Ministry of Commerce and Investment to take action to stop these fraudulent activities and protect the consumers.

Yousef Al-Rasheed, a digital marketing expert, noted that the volume of e-commerce has been increasing annually, with electronics and travel products topping the shopping list of Saudis. There is also increasing demand for women’s clothes, cosmetics and skin-care products.

“Online shoppers should be fully aware of the spurious activities on the Internet and arm themselves with protection tools so that they do not get cheated out of their money or fall victim to credit card fraud or identity thefts. Online shoppers should read about the experiences of others before buying any products from any web store to ensure that the site is safe,” he pointed out.

In his opinion, the Ministry of Commerce should raise public awareness about online fraud and provide consumers with tips on how to avoid the risks while making online purchases.

Al-Rasheed called upon the ministry to conduct intensive campaigns to raise public awareness about the “Maroof” initiative, a website that helps online shoppers ascertain the credibility and reliability of e-stores.

The website enhances trust between the buyer and seller and enables the buyer to leave comments on the website on their purchasing experiences from any website.

Dr. Yazeed Al-Saigal, a cybercrimes expert, attributed increasing online thefts to social media websites, which people frequent on a daily basis.

“It is difficult but not impossible to discover an online theft because fraudsters use tricky methods to con people out of money and leave no trace behind. Another reason for the spread of these crimes is poor public awareness levels. Most victims of online fraud do not report to the authorities because they believe that it is difficult to track down the fraudsters,” he explained.

He advised the general public to gain greater awareness about the e-commerce laws and not to buy any fake goods online, noting that fraudsters use advanced and innovative technology to attract consumers.

Abdulaziz Al-Mohsin, psychology researcher, said the frequent use of social media websites by teenagers and adults has increased the risks of online thefts, with women constituting the largest number of victims.

"Women tend to browse social media websites a lot. Unfortunately, many of them do not care or are not aware of how to protect themselves against online thefts," Al-Mohsin said.

“Fraudsters use psychological tricks to entice victims to buy goods online and then steal their identity information or credit card numbers. They also use attractive and attention-getting marketing messages to attract women customers,” he said.

He called upon the Ministry of Commerce to impose strict penalties on online fraudsters and educate the public about their rights. The media should also play a role in getting across the message by creating awareness about e-commerce laws, he said.