HONG KONG – As Internet accessibility in Asia continues to soar, several reports have shown a link with the rise in people becoming victims of Internet crimes.
South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported on Monday (Mar 21) that more women in Hong Kong are falling prey to love scams via online dating sites and apps.
Majority of these victims were reportedly tricked by swindlers who posed as “successful Western professionals” and lost millions of dollars while at it.
According to the report, 90 per cent of the victims were women with tertiary education, and the most vulnerable were between 30 to 40 years old.
One victim, 38-year-old Jennifer Choi, told SCMP how she was conned out of more than HK$200,000 by her “British lover” in March last year. Although the ordeal took a toll on her health, she did not make a police complaint as she found that it “does not heal the wounds in (her) heart”.
Hong Kong police recorded a total of 62 cases last year, an increase from 29 back in 2014, SCMP reported. Last year, swindlers pocketed a total of HK$32 million and transferred most of the money to Malaysia and China.
On the other hand, Malaysians are also found to be most gullible and likely to fall for online scams, revealed a recent study conducted by Telenor Group.
The Star reported that a total of 400 users aged 18 to 65 from Malaysia, India, Singapore, and Thailand took part in the study.
Among these countries, Malaysia came out tops with 46 per cent of respondents who admitted to falling victim to various Internet crimes that include online dating scams.
Also attributing to the same study, The Nation reported that males and females share similar attitudes towards staying safe online and are equally likely to feel in control. However, women are found to be more careful about their email security.
Meanwhile, Singaporeans are also affected by such online scams.
Channel NewsAsia reported that in the first half of 2015, people in Singapore lost S$1.59 million in online credit-for-sex scams, as well as S$3.7 million in Internet love scams.
Staying Safe Online
Though the danger â€“ and repercussions â€“ of online scams are very real, it is relatively simple to avoid falling prey to them. It may seem old news to more experienced users, but since so many still fall prey to online scams, these tips bear repeating:
1. Delete suspicious and untrustworthy e-mail messages.
2. Ignore advertisements that appear â€œtoo good to be trueâ€.
3. Always update your anti-malware software.
4. Research scams online.
5. Disseminate information and share preventive tips with friends and family via social media.