e-commerce

Bought phone online, but it never arrived

Over 2,100 people fell victim to scams involving e-commerce last year.
Over 2,100 people fell victim to scams involving e-commerce last year. PHOTO: ST FILE

A 30-year-old engineer thought he was getting a good deal on a Samsung mobile phone when he made an offer on online classifieds site Gumtree last October.

The phone cost "around $600" and he contacted its seller on the same day to buy it.

He was told to transfer the money to a bank account, which he did promptly.

But the phone never arrived.

Sensing that something was amiss, the man, who declined to be named, contacted the seller again.

This time, he was told, the terms and conditions had changed - he had to buy at least two phones to get it at the price stated.

This was when he asked for a refund, which was not given.

A few days later, the man reported the incident to the police.

He was one of over 2,100 people who fell victim to scams involving e-commerce last year.

Such cases rose by around 30 per cent from 2014 with victims cheated out of a total of about $1.76 million.

Victims are often told to make advance payment on an item that is attractively priced.

Sometimes, they are asked to make further payments for customs duties, delivery charges and taxes before they receive their purchases - which never arrive.

Seow Bei Yi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2016, with the headline 'Bought phone online, but it never arrived'. Print Edition | Subscribe