After working in the city of Haining in Zhejiang province for over 3 years, 28-year-old Mrs. Luo decided to treat herself with a new belt online. She went ahead with the purchase on July 24th and checked the package delivery status the following day which showed that reception had already been confirmed by someone else. She checked with the officer of her building who was on duty that day and was told that nothing had been delivered yet.

"What's going on!?” Mrs. Luo thought, confused about the situation. She called the online seller in hope of getting some answers, but she was quickly redirected over to the express courier company that handled the delivery of her belt. Meanwhile, someone claiming to be a third-party customer service representative contacted Mrs. Luo about her unfortunate situation with the following message: “We're sorry to inform you that your package has been lost. In order to compensate you for your loss, we’d like to offer you one of the following two options: (1) We will return three times the amount you initially paid back into your account, or (2) we will send you a new belt free of charge."


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Mrs. Luo chose the first compensation option and opted to be reimbursed three times the amount she paid. The so-called customer service rep sent her a friend request on WeChat which she subsequently accepted. Once the two were connected, the representative messaged a link to help settle the claim; however, the compensation indicated was now twice the amount that the user had originally paid, not three times as they had first agreed. Nonetheless, Mrs. Luo clicked without any notice and was led to an interface that required real name authentication. Thinking this process was legitimate, she inputs her name, ID card number and other personal information as requested.


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As she reached the last step towards receiving her compensation (or so she thought), the platform asked her to input her account’s verification code which would have given them full access to her money via Alipay. All of sudden, Mrs. Luo began to question everything. "Why would they need my verification code?” she wondered. “Once I send the code, they can take my money via Alipay." 


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With this verification code still on hold, the customer service representative began pressing her to send it. He called multiple times and whenever she did answer, Mrs. Luo lied and said that she had too much going on at work. The representation continued to message her until one day, Mrs. Luo logged into her Alipay account and noticed that RMB 69,800 had gone missing. She felt an immediate sense of panic rush through her as she began to realize that she had been dealing with a swindler this whole time. She acted quickly by blacklisting the representative and called the police.


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The investigation conducted by the police found that Mrs. Luo’s money had been transferred to a 'small bag' and was in hiding, but had not yet been transferred to the swindler's account. The police reset Mrs. Luo's password and transferred the money back to her Alipay account. On July 27th, Mrs. Luo's package finally arrived. 



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How on earth did this happen?

When Mrs. Luo filled in her personal information using the link that she’d been sent, the cybercriminals used it to access her Alipay account and transferred her money into what can be referred to as 'small bag’ - a place where money is stored until further verification. But without Mrs. Luo’s payment password and verification code, the money couldn't be transferred out which explains why the “representative” harassed Mrs. Luo with multiple phone calls.


Photo credit: 南方新闻网


Photo credit: 南方新闻网


Any of the following circumstances should help you determine whether an unsolicited or suspicious message sent by a third party can be deemed fake or not:

  1. Anyone who declares him- or herself to be a public security operator and requests a money transfer to be made. Never, ever, EVER share your personal and banking information with someone you do not know or trust.

  2. Some who requests money to be transferred to a 'safe account’, which is a code word for basically “fraud”. Do not trust it and hang up on / report the user.

  3. Someone who requests personal and/or bank card information.

  4. Someone who sends you a strange link that requires you to fill in your personal information. Delete the link.

  5. Beware that some fraudsters can speak English and may pretend to either be an immigration officer or a government official who is calling you to inquire about your banking information or personal details. Although there are legitimate cases when a real official of the Chinese government may call you, be very careful with the type of information you decide to share. When in doubt, you can also continue the conversation via text messages so you may ask them additional professional questions to verify their identity.

Source : 南方新闻网GICA.jpgGIC2.jpg