$690,000 lost in online scams in first half of 2017

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Majority fall for e-commerce scams

More than 800 people have fallen prey to e-commerce scams at online marketplace Carousell this year, forming the majority of such cases reported to police here.

There were 900 e-commerce scams in total involving victims who paid for online purchases that were not delivered to them. They suffered $691,700 in losses in the first half of the year.

A Carousell spokesman told The Straits Times that the fraud incidence rate is less than 0.1 per cent of over 20 million successful transactions on the portal since its launch in 2012.

"However, we recognise the impact of fraud on our community and are working hard to improve our detection tools and teams. We have features such as user feedback, user verification, and have developments in the pipeline to improve them," the spokesman said.

"We also employ artificial intelligence to improve our fraud detection and have dedicated teams in place to monitor our marketplace."

Citing the risks involved in buying and selling goods in online and offline marketplaces, the spokesman said the portal makes it a point to regularly share safety tips and encourage its users to be cautious and practise due diligence when arranging deals.

In January, a 16-year-old girl was arrested for her suspected involvement in several scams on Carousell. She had allegedly advertised slimming cream at attractive prices, but did not deliver the goods after victims paid her.

Ms Shirley Wong, former chairman of the Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation and now managing partner of investment advisory firm TNF Ventures, said users can protect themselves by, for instance, looking at reviews of sellers and products.

But reviews can also be fake, so users should look out for "patterns", such as multiple reviews that are similarly worded.

Ms Sylvia Ng, general manager of South-east Asia at Kaspersky Lab, said: "Most people are not that vigilant or attentive when it come to identifying unsecured shopping sites or fake commerce sites. They are too relaxed when it comes to looking for the bad signs."

Yesterday, the police advised Carousell users to meet the seller in person before making any payment.

Police said there was a rise in Internet love scams with 349 recorded from January to June this year, up from 277 reported cases in the same period in 2016.

Losses have doubled to over $22.1 million, up from the $11.2 million in the same period last year.

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