My friend Anna recently bumped into an “online business”. She searched and found a seller of pre-loved clothes. The items of this seller cost less. The items were displayed on Facebook for viewing. Anna investigated by “stalking” the seller’s profile. Meaning, she would scroll down the seller’s profile and read the comments and reviews. Aside from that, she also messaged the seller and asked a lot of questions about the products including details of the shipment, etc.
Anna is a businesswoman. I admire her for being very handy and goal-oriented. In a week of thinking-over, Anna decided to buy 10,000 worth of clothes to that online seller. They communicated through Facebook. After she sent the money through a local bank, she informed the seller that the funds were sent. The seller replied quickly during the day. 24 hours later, the seller went like bubbles. My friend Anna was blocked by the seller. Long story short, she was scammed and never received a product in exchange of her money.
My friend was so worried and confused on what she should do. She contacted me and asked for some advice. I knew then that she was confused on what was the best thing she could do to retrieve her money. She was worried. I understood that at that very moment of her realization, she was also furious. I honestly went to almost the same hurdle. Back in 2008, I was also scammed for 16,000 by sending thousands of electronic mobile credits to someone I thought I could trust. Since I wanted to start a business, I was so excited to invest that I forgot to diligently investigate the people I was transacting with.
The story of Anna above is just one of the horrible stories of scam victims in the country. They are a lesson to all of us. But when confronted with this kind of situation, what should you do? What do you do when you think you are being scammed online?
My friend Anna was almost hopeless. She did not want to bother the scammer anymore. All she wanted was to have her money back. If only we could tell the scammer, “Hey, we will not sue you anymore. Just return the money, please!” The sad thing is that its a vain hope. The scammer would only entertain new victims through the same Facebook account and blocked those who already sent “her” money. Clearly, the scammer was only after the money. The scammer used a woman’s name, by the way. Of course, we were not sure whether she was really a “she” or a “he” but the scammer was very good with being consistent with her modus.
When Anna asked me what’s the best thing to do, I automatically told her to report it to the National Bureau Investigation (NBI). Since the transaction was basically online, I asked her to contact the NBI Cybercrime Division – Complaints Desk. I knew she only wanted her money back. The thing is, it can only be done by either:
- Asking the scammer to return it (This idea is a vain hope but it’s one of the options)
- Push for the transaction or exchange of goods. Meaning, pester the online seller to really send the products (if there’s really any product).
- Report what happened to the NBI and heed the law enforcer’s advice. If they suggest an entrapment, then entrapment.
The first and second option can be done by Anna through her Facebook account. The third one should be done by Anna personally and immediately. As of the moment, her concern was already made known to the NBI. We will have to cooperate with the NBI on the next move. All I asked her was to be “patient” and be “calm” to be able to think clearly.
I know the feeling. There’s no need to blame yourself. It will not do you any thing good. Focus on what you can do to address the situation better. Panicking cannot return your investments. What you need to do is to calm yourself down. Drink water. Inhale. Exhale. Close your eyes for like 3 minutes then get back to business. What can you do about the situation? Do you think you could help others not fall victim by the same scammer?
Think clearly. If you think you are being scammed, don’t let a lot of time to pass by. Call the authorities such as the NBI and file a complaint!
To report cyber-related crimes, please call the NBI Cybercrime Division – Complaints Desk. Here are the details:
Head Agent – RONALD AGUTO
(02) 5238-231 local 3455
Chief – 3429
Staff – 3497
NBI Cyber-crime Division – Complaints Desk
(02) 523-8231 local 3455
(632)523-8231 to 38 local 3454, 3455
This is the NBI’s contact page/directory:
I suggest to call them first. Emails are good but there is no guarantee that your concerns will be addressed immediately. Call them promptly. Remember: it’s counter productive to blame yourself or anybody. Do something that will make the situation better, not worse. First thing’s first: think calmly.
Please always be alert with your transactions especially when it involves money and sensitive information. There are a lot of criminal minds online. Don’t be a victim of scam. Let’s all stay vigilant!