Once again police departments have come together to dismantle a criminal net in the Southeast Asia region based in Taiwan, but operating in eight other countries including China and the Philippines. Their main objective: to target victims pretending to be tax collectors threatening civilians to pay their fines for not paying the right amount of government taxes.
Philippines investigators know that mobile phone scams are very popular and a very good source of income for fraudsters on virtual communication devices such as Skype, where telephone numbers are easily obtained, and can show any local number from nearly any country. Criminals would get buy and share database information regarding citizens and their tax information, and then use this information to convince their victim that they were indeed calling from the government, and indeed the victim faces jail time if they do not pay their bill.
This is the second major detention of scammers made this year was in the Malaysian Archipelago that operated in eight different Asian countries with 828 members now being sent back home to serve jail time. It’s a major victory in an uphill battle with no end in sight. Fighting internet fraud and scams, especially in the Philippines, can at time feel like a hopeless cause.
A mobile phone scam was discovered in 2010 that resulted in over 1800 victims who lost over 34 million U.S. dollars, as of September 2011, and police are still sorting through all the details. When this case is closed, there will no doubt be others. The criminals are expanding faster than law enforcement and private detectives can keep up. The global economy is in shambles and crime rates are rising in most countries around the world. What to do in these high risk times? Experts say use caution when someone requests personal information, whether it’s on the internet, phone or in person. Make sure you’re dealing with a verified person or business, and even then, be skeptical and ask for assurance that it’s safe to share your private information.
Philippines detectives offer the following advice to stay safe online:
1. Never reveal your private information on the internet to any person or company who has not been verified.
2. When entering your personal data or credit card information, always check for SSL or https technology with a lock on your browser.
3. Ask the person or company for references to be sure you’re dealing with a reputable and qualified professional.
4. Search Google for the individual or business name to be sure there’s no negative information or cause for alarm.
5. Listen to your instinct. Are there red flags? Do you feel uncomfortable providing your personal data? If so, don’t.
6. If you’re dealing with a business, look for trust seals such as Truste, McAfee, Verisign or the Better Business Bureau.
7. When in doubt, consider a professional due diligence investigation or discreet background check to verify the person or business.
8. Remember that any information you share online may end up in the wrong hands.
Choose your “friends” wisely on the internet and be skeptical about any new contacts on social networking or online dating sites. Scammers are in greater numbers than ever, and no site is completely immune from fraud. Stay safe and skeptical and when in doubt, contact a professional. Reputable companies like Philippine PI™ say that prevention is key, and consumers should think of a background check or due diligence like an insurance policy, that when used early, can be a very effective tool in minimizing risk and verifying relationships.
Best of luck,
© 2011 A Hathaway