Beware phone fraud after buying books online: CIB
The China Post news staff
October 21, 2012, 12:01 am TWN
The Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB,刑事警察局) yesterday warned those who make purchases through online bookstore to be vigilant against phone-based fraud schemes.
The CIB issued the call after receiving reports from customers who had large amounts of money swindled after being conned into operating automatic teller machines.
Riding the growing popularity of online shopping and the changing reading habits of locals, Internet bookstores have proliferated rapidly in recent years, with traditional bookstores gradually on the decrease. But, according to CIB officials, online bookstore customers have become a new "niche" target for fraud rings.
From August to Oct. 20, the CIB and other police units in Taipei have recorded at least 30 cases associated with payments for books purchased via online stores, with the amounts stolen ranging from NT$30,000 to NT$480,000.
One woman, surnamed Chang, recently reported her case to the CIB, saying that she was conned out of nearly NT$160,000 after buying a book, valued at only NT$270, from a newly established e-bookstore.
Chang said several days after she paid the NT$270 and picked up the book through a convenience store's delivery service, a man impersonating a service staffer of the e-bookstore called and told the woman she had signed the wrong column of a form when picking up the book. The mistake caused the company's computer system to deduct the payment from her bank account in the form of 12 monthly installments, the man claimed.
The conman then asked Chang to tell him the telephone number printed on the back of her bank card, and said that an employee from the bank would contact her shortly to help her cancel the installment-payment plan.
According to Chang, she was then contacted by somebody impersonating a bank employee, who asked her to quickly find a nearby ATM. Acting on the caller's instructions, Chang unwittingly transferred NT$59,000 out of her account.
After receiving the money, the conman called Chang again, saying that her remittance had been "locked" by a banking system, but could be refunded by buying "online game points" at a convenience store and reporting the serial and access codes of the games. As a result, Chang was swindled out of a further NT$100,000.
To prevent the occurrence of similar cases in the future, CIB officials urged locals to use the 165 Anti-fraud Hotline if they have any suspicions about possible fraudulent activities.
The officials also stressed that many ATMs don't have a function allowing for the cancellation of monthly payment plans.
They also urged consumers to change their passwords frequently or use different passwords when patronizing different online bookstores.