It had been confirmed that phone scams are getting more rampant by the minutes in dominated Chinese speaking regions and the perpetrators are skimming away millions of hard earned money from the vulnerable group of people like retirees and housewives of whom majority of them are relatively not as well-informed and alert as others. We must understand this is a global con artist network at work in the digital age and how do they operate?, why some of us keep fallen into their traps and lastly what precautions could had been taken to minimise the unwanted agonies.
Scams has been around for a centuries capitalizing on people’s weakness for quick and easy capital gains. A phone scam network was busted in Taiwan recently and their “modus operandi” was disclosed, contrary to popular belief, instead of a loose structure one man operation, phone scamming group was operated like any other enterprise businesses, it consisted of finance, phone operators, IT, field runners, payroll, collection and even an audit department. It leverage on advance technologies to avoid easy tracing and commit to massive numbers of engagement calls to hunt for preys, usually to China and other part of Asean countries, based on the conversion rate ( for example, 1 prey for 500 calls will be 0.2%), its a rather lucrative and low risk business taken into account the technical challenges of bringing them to justice on a cross border framework. So, its basically is a B2C, Business to Consumer modelling.
Fundamentally speaking, we are as predictable as the next person around you. We often over reacted emotionally to greed, desires, sympathies and fears. Ever experience the thrills and anxieties in your system when something big is ahead of us? situation like an attractive business deal, pretty ladies striking conversations with you out of a blue, making hints and so on, street kids begging for changes,loves one didn’t return your repeated calls, scratch and win attractive prices, someone on social media network expressing their love to you, offering to ship you some high value gifts and always got hold in the courier due to import duty fees and asking you to top up to release the shipment, immediate family members seeming just got hijacked and you got the ransom calls, Police inspectors calling you to offer help to transfer your money in a safer place due to an on-going criminal investigation case? The list goes on.
Our basic human instinct has implications how well do we handle the situations as we basically not trained and conditioned to be paranoid and on guard and as a results, more often than not, we become the victims. The key lies in admitting our own limitations and learn how to recognize and read the sign when we our emotions overwhelm our sense of judgement and seek helps from friends and even strangers.
There are couple of preventive measures one can take to avoid being targeted in the first place, volunteering only limited personal data to others through online platforms, use actual name in contact address book instead of Dad, Home, Son in case a misplaced mobile handset fallen into the wrong hands. Keep a 2nd emergency handset ready for making distress calls out to validate identities or seeking 2nd opinions. Although authorities such as bank and remittance centers are asked to look out for distressed signals among the walk in customers who are in the progress of being scammed to remit money out, many others got away. We ought to share these information to those who didn’t keep up to date with current affairs.
In summary, getting scammed and ripped off was indeed a devastating event, the worst kind is they could potentially easily wipe out all the savings as they go all the way asking how much balance one had in the account rather than naming a fix price. In addition, many victims kept their incidents to themselves partly due to fear of shame and blames if disclosing and the complexity of sense of unjust and revenge silently wishing more people will get scammed as well for self justification, “Hey, I am not the only one, others also got it, some got conned with a lot more money than myself”…. , “ It wont happen to me, only to others” are the common line of thoughts. Probably we need to re-frame our mindsets to keep up with fast-changing modern era scams; its an organize crimes against individuals making use of modern technologies to capitalize on our emotional weakness, taking us down one by one and only when we are willing to step out and help one another we can fight back. So, if you know someone who wasn’t aware of the contemporary scams,remind them, offer your advices and intervention. You could be saving someone else mother from an agony of being ripped of, likewise, someone else could had helped your own loves one in some other ways one way or another.