When going out and about, we are often reminded to always be aware of our surroundings, lest we fall prey to the intentions of unsavoury individuals seeking out to make a quick buck off illicit means. And it would now seem that the very same piece of advice should extend as far as into the virtual space, given the rising number of incidents relating to online scams that have taken place in the country as of late.
M’sian woman gets scammed by online ‘travel agency’
Among them include an incident that was shared by Facebook netizen Zurich Teo, who explained how a friend of his had recently been cheated out of her hard-earned money after inquiring about promotions offered by an online travel company she encountered on Facebook.
In a video clip that was uploaded alongside his post, a representative could be heard explaining to prospective customers how they can redeem deals on holiday packages offered by their company. By tapping into a link, customers would be brought to Main World’s official webpage, where they can scroll through a series of popular vacation destinations across Malaysia, such as Semporna in Sabah and Langkawi in Kedah.
Customers required to download an app to purchase tour packages
Prices listed appear to be typically under the RM1,000 mark, with stays varying between 4-day-3-nights, or 3-day-2-nights. Customers are then directed to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the webpage, and are instructed to download an application.
Upon completing installation, users are then required to grant the app specific permissions in order for it to function properly. According to the representative, this is a necessary step as upon arrival to any of the vacation destinations, staff members from their company would be contacting customers directly through the application itself.
Users can then select any of the listed destinations and purchase their vacation packages by simply paying a small deposit fee first. Payment would then be made through a ‘payment gateway’ that the app interface had built-in.
Scammers even threatened her after being exposed
Unfortunately, as Teo’s friend attempted to pay for the deposit, the ‘payment gateway’ failed to load. The representative requested that she tried a different bank to wire the money, but she refused. A few days later, she would be contacted by the representative again, who told her that they had apparently ‘forgotten’ to help her register her membership, which resulted in the failure, and said that they would help her register once more.
Following the steps as instructed, she even paid a small amount for a ‘registration fee’. But upon receiving the OTP for the transaction and typing it into the application, she was shocked to discover that she had been scammed out of RM28,500.
The scammers then even tried to threaten both Teo and his friend via WhatsApp for exposing their scam operation over social media. Upon checking the site in question, Wau Post found that it is no longer active.
As mentioned by a local software developer previously, smartphone users should always be wary of downloading applications from unknown sources, or granting permissions to suspicious applications, as it could put you at risk of being hacked.