If you thought after the fall of Destiny or Jubok that people would have learned their lessons about financial scams, you better think again. After a generation got scammed in the analogue world, today people are being scammed digitally.
Getting scammed not just results in people losing their hard-earned money, but it can often be very embarrassing, which is why a lot of people don't even report such scams before it's too late.
I have met many deceived people who refuse to open up about how they lost their money. Why? Because the scams, when exposed, turn out to be very attractive to fall for. As a result, the 'non-scammed' often make fun of the gullibility of the scammed. Those scammed are even termed 'greedy' for wanting to make such easy money.
So even after you lose a large amount of your fortune, you will get little sympathy from the public. Getting back your money through government interference is also a long, arduous process.
A few months ago, during investigating a so-called 'e-commerce' platform called Jeka Bazar in Rajbari district, a concerned government official revealed his annoyance to this reporter about people who fall for a trap like making money by watching ads. "It is obvious that you cannot make money like this. Do you get paid for watching an advertisement on television?" the official asked.
According to some of the victims scammed by Jeka Bazar, after the media coverage and government interference, the scammers have changed their name and continue to pursue the same scam.
The end of a certain group or brand does not necessarily ensure the end of that kind of scam. So, it is really important to learn about the types and nature of different scams to stay clear of them.
If you want to learn how both digital and analogue scams work across the country and spread awareness among people about them, this article is for you.
Earning by watching ads
There are several groups like ringID, Reward Rupee, or Jeka Bazar who pay money for watching ads. Some of these companies, after media reports and government interference, ceased to function, but some rebranded themselves under new names and continued running the same scams.
Thousands of people – despite being able to detect such traps with a single Google search – are regularly falling for it.
The ads watching scammers sell various packages to the people.
For example, a package may require you to buy 100 IDs for Tk130,000. If you watch a certain ad for 30 seconds from each of your IDs, you will be paid a certain amount of money. You may earn about Tk10,000 a month from your 100 IDs.
In the first few months, the payment will come just fine. But soon you will see your income per ID is dropping.
Unless the scammers plan to disappear soon, they will ask you to buy more IDs. Why? Because at the end of the day you are being paid with your own money. Watching ads indeed does not pay a penny.
So, be aware of this digital scam. Even if you have been scammed already, do not spread it by inviting new people to join it, as the scammers would ask and entice you with various offers.
We have seen fervent fans of Evaly lambasting journalists and newspapers on social media for exposing the real nature of this 'e-commerce' company.
It is hard to make certain people believe that the companies that are offering 60 percent discounts or 'cash back' going up to 100 percent to 150 percent are making an unreal offer. After Evaly, many such companies emerged. For example, Dhamaka, Dalal Plus, Qcoom, you name it.
There is no doubt that saving 60 percent on a pricey refrigerator is a lucrative offer. But ask yourself, is that a realistic business model? For how long?
What they did, in the name of 'e-commerce,' involved investing your money in something or storing them in banks to earn interest. If you are lucky and they have not laundered all the money abroad already, you might get your product months after ordering it.
There are many reports of customers ordering a particular product and getting back almost 100 percent of the money they spent to acquire the product. Later, after eating biriyani (in the case of Evaly's food section involved) with the partially returned money, their wait for the ordered product would never end.
So, is investing your hard-earned money in such risky offers wise?
Also, maybe Evaly is gone for now but the model remains; and you will come across plenty of such groups in future with new names. Perhaps they may also have bigger celebrity endorsements, but learn to question their intention, and be aware.
The 'halal' scam
Remember the Ehsan group? One Islamic preacher named Hafizur Rahman said whoever speaks ill about the aforementioned group would be a 'munafiq' (false Muslim).
The group claimed to provide a 'halal' way of making money.
The offer entailed that you gave them money that they would invest in a business approved by the Islamic Sharia and return your money with profit that would be 'Islamic', not like bank interest, which was 'haram'.
To encourage people to give them money, the scammers would organise 'waz mahfils' to convince devoted Muslims to give them their hard-earned money.
Last October, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrested Ragib Ahsan, the chairman of this group, on charges of embezzling more than a billion taka!
The group dabbled in various business ventures such as the 'Ehsan Multi-Purpose Cooperating Society' and 'Ehsan Real Estate and Business Builders Limited' with their supporter's money. The scammers embezzled the poor people's money to make a fortune for themselves.
The Ehsan Group is now under the radar, but the scam model is open; so watch out.
Unregistered online money lenders
Everyone at some point faces a situation when we need a small amount of money but there is no one out there to help. The banks do not deal with petty loans that students especially require at the end of the month.
While online microloans are not illegal per se and are in fact encouraged in certain quarters to expand financial inclusion, some groups are cashing in on this trend and creating apps without properly following regulations. Law enforcers recently busted a group of people involved in creating apps like Cashman, Tkala, Personal Loans Online, RapidCash- Quick Online eLoans App, AmarCash-Personal Loans Online, Cashkash-Fast Loans Online and CashCash.
Besides charging extremely high interest, they charge an unreal amount of late fees if you delay the payment a day or two.
To make sense in numbers, some of these apps will charge as much as Tk250 for Tk2,000 loans for seven days. If you delay the payment by one or two days, they may charge you an extra Tk250 or more.
The greater the loan amounts, the higher the interest and late fees for the delay in payment.
The digital sphere created immense ease and opportunity for both consumers and businesses. As a result, the internet is bustling with various businesses and activities. Against this backdrop, opportunists and frauds are after making some quick bucks by deceiving people. Consumers must become aware of these scams, as what we discussed here are but a few main examples.