Bureau of Customs warns public against internet scams

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Feb. 22 (PNA) — The Bureau of Customs in Northern Mindanao warned the public against a marketing scam that utilized the internet, a customs official said on Saturday.

Acting deputy collector Uswaldo Pague, of the Bureau of Customs here, said that the would-be-victim usually received an email regarding a marketing plan that resembles that of a pyramiding scheme.

He said that the email would solicit membership money of P 2,500 with a promise from the “upline member” to send a package containing gifts or money to the would-be-victim in exchange for recruits that would serve as the down line.

Pague issued the warning saying that an online networking business is very risky because the location of the central operation could not be traced.

The invitation to join the marketing plan is through email, Facebook, and many other social networking sites that would link in chain reactions while the return of the investment is not certain, Pague added.

He said most of the victims of the internet scams were women while the email senders mostly come from Australia, United Kingdom, and the United States.

According to Pague, the perpetrators usually make initial contacts with the would-be-victims through an online chat or in a dating website.

After communicating with would-be victims usually taking months, the perpetrators would send a message through email promising the same of gifts such as luxury bags, jewelry, laptop computers and other electronic gadgets through a door to door parcel.

He said that the would-be-victim would then receive an email of the package tracking number of the alleged shipment then an email purportedly coming from the Bureau of Customs would follow.

The email that reportedly came from the Bureau of Customs would instruct the would-be-victim to pay the breakdown of the customs duties and taxes in a designated bank account or money transfer service, Pague said.

After remitting the payments, the victim would never receive the promised packages, he added.

Pague said that the Bureau of Customs is now coordinating with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to trace the source of the illegal activity.(PNA)