'Greed, carelessness, overconfidence': Why youth tend to fall for scams
SINGAPORE — After a successful purchase of Apple's Airpods Max from a seller on Carousell, 30-year-old Abdul Haqqim Abdul Hasim and his friends felt confident enough to pool about S$4,000 to buy three iPhone 13s together, after the same seller had promised a discount for a group purchase.
- Mr Abdul Haqqim Abdul Hasim lost around S$3,000 to a scammer on Carousell when he was 28
- He is one of many young people who have fallen prey to scams in recent years, with three in five scam victims in 2022 aged under 40
- Sociologist Tan Ern Ser suggested that there may be several factors why younger people are more susceptible to scams
- These included being overconfident and having blind spots because younger people are more digitally savvy and move quickly online
SINGAPORE — After a successful purchase of Apple's Airpods Max from a seller on Carousell, 30-year-old Abdul Haqqim Abdul Hasim and his friends felt confident enough to pool together about S$4,000 to buy three iPhone 13s, after the same seller had promised a discount for a group purchase.
When the products were not delivered, the advertising account manager tried to contact the seller, only to discover that he had disappeared by then.
After some digging on online forums, Mr Haqqim realised that he had been tricked when online users confirmed that the "seller" he had been dealing with was indeed a scammer.
Mr Haqqim is one of an increasing number of young adults who fall prey to scams. Younger people make up the majority of scam victims, data released by the police on Wednesday (Feb 8) showed.
Out of the 31,728 scam cases reported last year, more than three out of every five victims, or 60.2 per cent of victims, were under the age of 40.
“I think (in hindsight, the scammer) would have been tough to detect, because his Carousell reviews were very good and people posted the genuine items on their respective reviews.Mr Abdul Haqqim Abdul Hasim, a victim of an online scam”
Mr Haqqim said: “I think (in hindsight, the scammer) would have been tough to detect, because his Carousell reviews were very good and people posted the genuine items on their respective reviews.”
He added that “it felt like a very calculated scam” because the initial successful purchase built a certain level of trust with the seller, paving the way for the larger transaction that turned out to be a scam.
“I feel super frustrated… but I have to just move on because I can’t do anything about it… I also felt bad because I roped my friends in (and one of them lost about S$1,000).”
Mr Haqqim, who had contributed about S$3,000 of his savings for the transaction, reported the case to the police but was never able to recover his money, even when the culprit was caught in October 2021.
He told TODAY that after the ordeal, he now conducts purchases on Carousell only face-to-face to prevent the same thing from happening again.
Phishing scams where data such as banking login details are stolen, job scams, e-commerce scams, investment scams and "fake friend" call scams were reported to be the five most common scams last year.
Associate Professor Tan Ern Ser, a sociologist from the National University of Singapore, hypothesised that a lack of wisdom and discernment are key factors in young people's susceptibility to scams.
“The gullibility could be triggered by fear or ignorance in the case of seniors, vulnerability in the case of people looking for love, and 'shortcuts' in the case of young people obsessed with upward mobility.Professor Tan Ern Ser, a sociologist from the National University of Singapore”
When asked if young people were being targeted more by scammers, Assoc Prof Tan said that the culprits were probably targeting the gullible.
"The gullibility could be triggered by fear or ignorance in the case of seniors, vulnerability in the case of people looking for love, and 'shortcuts' in the case of young people obsessed with upward mobility.”
He added: “I believe that in regard to money scams, it begins with greed, accompanied by the idea that there can be 'shortcuts' to reaching what they desire, like wealth and retiring by 40 or earlier.”
Other factors that may explain the susceptibility of younger consumers to scams included a tendency to overestimate the likelihood of achieving a good outcome.
Another was so-called "learned carelessness" or blind spots caused by being digitally savvy and able to navigate cyberspace very quickly, Assoc Prof Tan said.
Most people might imagine that younger people would be more aware of the potential dangers of conducting online transactions given that they grew up with the internet and have spent vast periods online.
However, young people such as Ms Qistina Farisha Safrani Mohamed Faizal, 19, still find themselves falling for simple scams over social media.
Ms Qistina told TODAY that because of her clothing preferences, “if I want to source for certain pieces of clothing or shoes, I need to find vintage stores or online retailers from Telegram or Instagram accounts”.
Recounting an experience from three years ago, she said that she had not expected to fall victim to a scam, confident that she was alert enough to spot suspicious sellers online.
Yet she found herself being swindled of S$50 when a scam retail account on Instagram asked her for a deposit on a pair of shoes she ordered and disappeared without a trace when she transferred the money for the deposit.
She had thought that the seller could be trusted after being recommended by a friend.
There was nothing she could do to get her money back because she could not even reach the seller over the phone. The number that they had been using to communicate had seemingly been deactivated.
Having learned her lesson the hard way at a young age, she said that nowadays, she makes sure to “double and triple check what and who I’m buying from to make sure that they are from reliable sources and that the things I buy are authentic".
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