Online frauds... beware of traps!


Saudi Gazette report

MANY people have lately fallen victims to online fraud practices, especially on social media websites, that promise them of achieving big dreams and making a quick fortune. They end up paying money to fraudsters who use social media websites to market their lies and choose their victims, Al-Riyadh daily reported.

The largest percentage of victims, of online frauds, do not have any experience or knowledge about the proper methods and safe channel of online investments. Most of them fall victim to the same old trick: Unknown person contacts them and tells them of a unique way to make a quick buck or a huge amount of money and all they need to do to enter into this scheme and see their investment reap rewards is to send a certain amount of money first to the fraudster.

Strangely enough, some of the victims, who have fallen to the age-old ruse, include educated people, mainly women. A large number of victims get confused and do not know what they should do to recover their money and how they should report fraud while also collecting proof of how they have just been conned out of their money.

Asma Muhammd, a teacher, was advised by her colleague to invest her money online through an online broker, who could help her get a high return on investment.

“She convinced me and a couple of other teachers to transfer around one thousand riyals to the online broker and he would invest the money and give us high returns. My colleagues and I transferred the money to the person only to discover that he disappeared few days later never to be found until now. We reported the fraud case to pertinent authorities,” she said.

She advised all not to fall victims to enticement of quick riches because they might end up losing a lot of money. She also advised all to check the antecedents of the scheme, the person involved in the scheme and the reliability and success of earlier schemes by the person or persons involved. “This simple fact check should be done every time. Also it would be advisable if people talked to others whose expertise lies in this field and friends who have knowledge of finance before taking any step.”

Today, female teachers at schools talk with one another about ways to make a fast buck. They bandy about various online investment schemes and companies that promise quick riches. The word of mouth advertisement among these teachers is the credibility that these scammers seek in floating such frauds, though every scheme should not be tainted by the same brush, as some companies target female teachers and con them out of money under the pretext of safe investment. It all needs a quick background checks that could identify the relative safety of every scheme that does come with risks. The investors should weigh the safety-risk factors before rushing into any scheme.

Amjad Nedal, who works for a private company, said she does not believe in online investment. She said this averseness to online schemes took root after one of her friends fell victim to online fraud. “She contracted an online influencer and asked him to promote a certain product for money. She transferred the money to him but he reneged on his promise. Once he had her money, he did not answer her calls and did not live up to his promise. Unfortunately, online fraud practices are increasing and more people fall victims to these practices every month,” she said.

Awareness campaigns of such fraud practices are important so that people become more aware of their legal rights and the steps they should take when they discover they have been conned out of their money. People need to know what precautionary measures they should take to avoid fraudsters. Today, fraudsters use advanced technology and new tricks to convince people to pay and invest money.

Nora Al-Qahtani, a legal counselor, said victims of online fraud should file a case at the court and claim back their money and provide evidence of their claims such as correspondence and emails. The Cybercrime Law stipulates in Article (4) that online fraud is punishable by imprisonment of not more than three years and a fine not exceeding two million Saudi riyals or both. An online fraud is composed of two components: material where the fraudster cons someone out of their money; and intentional where the fraudster plans beforehand to commit the crime.