Mobile scammers

Mobile scammers

Social media being used in new cellular phone fraud

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, January 13, 2020

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Local scammers have devised a new scheme to bilk Jamaicans out of thousands of dollars.

This time the scammers are using social media to entice persons to purchase high-end cellular phones at marked-down prices.

Under the scam, which is conducted mainly using Instagram, the phones are advertised and when interested buyers contact the seller they are given an account to deposit all or a portion of the money, with a promise that the phone will be delivered within hours after the payment is made.

But as soon as the payment is made the Instagram account is deactivated and the buyer is left empty-handed.

Last week, two women, who were victims of the scam, shared their experiences with the Jamaica Observer.

In one case a recent university graduate said she was in discussion with the seller for more than one week before she was convinced that she had found a bargain.

“When I asked why the money could not be handed over when the phone was delivered I was told that one of the delivery men was beaten up and robbed recently when he went to make a cash delivery,” said the woman, whose name is being withheld.

“I was then given the number for an account at a prominent bank and a phone number of the person who would make the delivery, and told to call that number as soon as I made the deposit. I did as instructed and when I first called, the supposedly delivery man told me he was in Spanish Town making two other deliveries and would get to me in two hours.

“Two hours later, with the phone not delivered, I tried calling him back. At first the phone just rang before it was turned off. After four hours I was forced to admit that I was scammed,” said the woman.

She said when she checked with the financial institution where the deposit had been made she was told that the account was in Montego Bay and the money was withdrawn minutes after it was deposited.

“I was encouraged to report it to the police but I was so disappointed that I just called it a loss. That phone was to be my Christmas present to myself,” the woman added, noting that the Instagram account was shut down days later.

It was a similar story from the second victim, but in her case the scammers tried for even more than the $60,000 she had deposited.

According to the woman, who works at a call centre, after the phone was not delivered she made contact with the operator of the Instagram account, which was listed as “Exclusive Content Information Technology Company”, and demanded a return of her money.

“I was then told that I would have to give them my account number so they could lodge the money to my account, at that point I decided that this was an attempt to get even more from me. When I rejected that suggestion the Instagram account was closed and I have been unable to make contact with them again,” the woman told the Jamaica Observer.

Both women pointed out that the phones were being sold from entities which listed themselves as “online-based mobile stores”, with no physical address on the posts.

Neither woman reported the matter to the police but they were willing to share their stories with the Observer in an effort to prevent other Jamaicans from being scammed.

When our news team checked with the police,we were told that they were not aware of this newest scam and are encouraging individuals who have been victims to report it.

The police also advised Jamaicans to take photos of online sites that they intend to make purchases from and to note the numbers they make calls to and receive calls from.

According to the police, people should be highly suspicious of those vendors who block their numbers and should share this information when reporting these cases.


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