The dawn of the digital age brought a plethora of groundbreaking technologies such as social media platforms, apps, online services, cloud-everything, and information all skewed towards providing for users’ convenience.
Sometimes, these conveniences can work against your favour, especially when scammers try to get on it. And it’s easy for them to get away with it because in the virtual world, identities can be masked and people can stay anonymous. We’ve seen numerous types of scams online – Firefly Airlines, online dating, Singapore Airlines – all with the intention of either stealing someone’s identity or duping someone of their hard-earned money.
Recently, Malaysian woman Baiti Al-Jannati got on Carousell (an online consumer-to-consumer community marketplace) for the first time to sell a book.
Note: How Carousell works is, through the app, users are able to list their items for sale or buy items from other users. It also has an instant messaging feature to facilitate communication between sellers and potential buyers when negotiating an offer.
Not long after she listed the item for sale, she was approached by someone named Farina. “So I thought I was getting my first buyer on Carousell. Ciss,” Baiti said in her Facebook post.
Farina approached Baiti via WhatsApp to enquire about the book that Baiti had put up for sale on Carousell. According to Baiti’s screenshots, Farina, who was using an international number, claimed that she was in Belgium but had intended to post the book to her sister in Kedah.
Everything seemed fine, Baiti offered to check Pos Laju rates and continued to discuss the sale with Farina despite noticing that Farina’s Carousell account had been suspended. She even described the condition of the book to ensure that the buyer was okay with how it would be presented, presumably to the buyer’s sister in Kedah. It was really going well, right down to the moment Farina made the payment (the book plus postage costs RM23), and then it quickly got awkward from there.
Farina claimed that she made the payment and that Baiti should expect an e-mail from Farina’s bank with the receipt as well as the confirmation details. It started getting suspicious when Farina went on to say that due to her bank’s “monthly upgrade”, she had to transfer a minimum of RM500 to Baiti’s account and insisted that Baiti transferred RM477 back into her account.
She also added that if Baiti didn’t do it within the hour, the bank will take “illegal action” and Baiti will be arrested, namedropping the FBI and the “state police” in the process.
As soon as Baiti started conversing in Bahasa Melayu (Malay), Farina, who originally posed as a Malaysian, said she couldn’t understand her. But she continued to insist (in English) that Baiti makes the transfer “either by nearest ATM or online banking business” and repeatedly asked Baiti, “Are you ready to make the transfer? Are you ready to make the transfer now?”
Well aware that she was being taken for a ride, Baiti continued to converse in Bahasa Melayu and declared that she no longer wishes to proceed with the sale of her book.
As seen in the screenshot above, Farina (by now, it’s pretty clear that he/she is a scammer), completely unaware that he/she was about to get trolled hard by Baiti, continued to insist on the transfer and made empty “the FBI and the state police” threats.
It culminated in the best response to a scammer that we’ve ever seen in a long time:
Needless to say, the scammer was never heard from again!
Laughter aside, this is not the first time that scammers are approaching users on Carousell. In fact, there’s an entire Tumblr blog called “Carouhell” which features a slew of “Carousell from Hell” experiences. Thus, we cannot stress enough how important it is to be 100% aware of who you exchange details with or make dealings with in the virtual world, especially if they’re strangers. If you know that you’re about to get scammed, the best thing to do would be to ignore the requests, no matter how many threats the scammer throws at you.
Or, you know, you can do what Baiti did and arm yourself with some handy memes and perhaps have a good laugh over it ;)
P/S: When we approached Baiti to ask for her consent to write this post, she shared that “Farina” was using an international number that started with +234. Baiti Googled it and it’s the country code for Nigeria. Just a tip, guys! Google is your best friend.