Victim says: I was too trusting
DUPED: A screenshot of the e-mail Miss Sheila Lee received. PHOTO: COURTESY OF SHEILA LEE
She thought she could make money by selling women's apparel on an online classifieds website.
But Miss Sheila Lee (not her real name), 18, did not think she would get conned of about $200 trying to sell a $60 pair of shoes.
The third-year polytechnic student told The New Paper: "I was naive, stupid and too trusting."
In March, she was approached via e-mail by a buyer who identified himself as a Malaysian man.
Said Miss Lee: "He seemed normal to me so I didn't question why a man would want to buy a pair of woman's shoes.
"Then, I received an authentic-looking e-mail from PayPal. It said that he had transferred the money to me, but that I will only receive the money when he gets the shoes. So, I mailed the shoes."
PayPal is a stored value digital wallet that allows its users to make purchases or transfer money online. Unknown to her, the supposed PayPal e-mail was sent by the man, who created a fake e-mail address impersonating a PayPal account.
Soon, he complained that the package had encountered problems in transit and asked to borrow $200 to resolve the issues.
Said Miss Lee: "I started to suspect something, but I just wanted to receive my money that was being held.
"I really regret sending him the money."
He stopped responding to Miss Lee after that.
ONLINE SCAMS ON STEEP RISE
Miss Lee is a victim of a scam that police call a "PayPal e-mail scam". Scams like these are on a steep rise, according to the mid-year crime statistics released by the police yesterday.
Compared to the first half of last year, the number of such scams increased more than seven-fold, from four to 35 cases over the same period this year. Other forms of online commerce scams and cyber extortion crimes are also on the rise, going up by 2,223 per cent compared to 2013.
These devious schemes are mostly committed by people overseas, said Superintendent (Supt) Chew Jingwei, who heads the syndicated fraud branch of the Commercial Affairs Department.
"They know that once money leaves Singapore, it is hard for the Singapore police to do enforcement and investigations," he said, asking that the public exercise more vigilance when dealing with people online.
"In these scams, the buyer would cook up a whole slew of incredible excuses that he is unable to pay because of administrative hurdles.
"It may sound irrational, but there are people actually falling for such ruses," said Supt Chew.
- NG JUN SEN