Scam search engine gets a nod as online fraud cases rise

Eunice Lam

Police will launch a ‘scameter’ search engine next month after police recorded 1,625 cases of online employment fraud in the first six months of the year.

The increase in click farms – up 364% from 350 cases in 2020 – contributed the most to the increase in fraud cases, said Wilson Fan Chun-yip of the Cybersecurity and Tech Crime Bureau of strength.

The scameter will replace the old “online phishing scam search engine” and allow people to check sellers’ cyber risk level and see if any of the sellers’ digital traces have been linked to the fraud .

People will be able to enter phone numbers, account numbers, email addresses, web addresses, platform account names, social page names, usernames or even email addresses. encrypted assets of sellers in the search engine.

In a recent case, a 45-year-old woman lost HK$3.5 million in a film review scam.

She first received an anonymous message on Telegram telling her she could earn 1.3% commission by writing movie reviews online.

However, she was asked to transfer a certain amount of money every time she completed a “mission”, the amount ranging from a few hundred dollars to over HK$300,000. After finally losing contact with the scammer, she reported the matter to the police.

The news came as a total of 3,954 online shopping fraud cases were recorded in the first six months of the year, 41% more than the same period last year.

However, despite the growing number of cases, police saw an overall drop of 21.3% in monetary losses.

Officers also worked with social media platforms and second-hand shopping sites to crack down on online shopping crimes.

Maggie Tam Chun-lan, Meta’s head of public policy for Hong Kong, Macau and Mongolia, said Facebook has set up a designated team and an AI-based system to detect suspicious pages and accounts.

The platform removed 1.7 billion fake accounts and 1.2 billion spam emails globally between October and December, Tam noted.

Kevin Huang Jiunn-jin, managing director of second-hand trading platform Carousell Hong Kong, said buyers who chat with sellers under review for disputes will receive notifications to let them know.

People should be wary of new accounts and sellers who only accept electronic payment methods or payments through personal bank accounts, Fan advised.

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