The Vietnam Competition Authority under the Ministry of Industry and Trade has advised local consumers against ‘prize-winning’ scams where people are notified by fake Facebook pages that they have won valuable prizes from famous brands.
In most cases, gullible consumers would follow the instructions of the con artists, who claim to be representatives from prestigious companies, only to lose their real money attempting to claim the non-existent prizes.
Ngan Tram, a resident in Ho Chi Minh City’s Phu Nhuan District, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that she had recently received a phone call from an unknown number, with the caller telling her that she had won an iPhone from a customer loyalty program of Vietnam’s leading mobile retailer The Gioi Di Dong (Mobile World).
But to claim the prize, Tram had to pay a ten-percent tax on the VND5 million (US$215) phone, or VND500,000 ($21.5), she recalled, citing the con artist.
The consumer took a cautious step by contacting The Gioi Di Dong’s hotline before making any bank transfer, and was told that no such customer loyalty program existed.
Earlier this month, many Facebook users were also notified via the social network’s messaging app Messenger that they had won a free Mazda sedan plus a VND300 million ($12,900) gift voucher.
The consumers were told that they had been randomly selected as winners of a recent Mazda event, and were encouraged to visit a website or call a phone number “for more information” on claiming the gifts.
However, Mazda Vietnam said in an official announcement that these ‘prize winning’ messages were scams.
The automaker advised that people should not provide their personal information to dubious sources and only receive information from official channels such as Mazda’s website or its verified Facebook page.
On top of the ‘prize winning’ frauds, scammers also ran fake websites of local companies and duped people into paying for items that never shipped.
In December 2018, several people visited an outlet in District 5 of mobile retailer FPT, asking to receive the iPhones for which they had placed orders and paid via a website, much to the surprise of the store attendants.
One attendant told Tuoi Tre that the fraudulent website had used the business address of the FPT outlet in District 5 to deceive customers.
“We have called on authorities to look into and handle the matter,” an FPT Shop representative said.
The Vietnam Competition Authority has advised that local consumers be wary of products and services offered at cheap prices or with shocking discounts via dubious websites or social networking accounts.
One of the easiest ways to check the authenticity of a Facebook page that claims to belong to a famous brand is to look for the Blue Verification Badge on its profile, according to the competition watchdog.
The number of followers and post interactions on the pages also matter, it added.