Police will roll out a “scameter” search engine next month after the force recorded 1,625 online employment fraud cases in the first six months of the year.
The rise of click farms – up 364 percent from 350 cases in 2020 – has contributed the most to the increase in fraud cases, said Wilson Fan Chun-yip of the force’s cyber security and technology crime bureau.
The scameter will replace the previous “online phishing scam search engine” and will allow people to check sellers’ cyber risk level and see whether any of the sellers’ digital traces have been linked to fraud.
People will be able to input sellers’ phone numbers, account numbers, email addresses, web addresses, platform account names, social page names, user names or even encrypted asset addresses into the search engine.
In one recent case, a 45-year-old woman lost HK$3.5 million in a movie-review click farm scam.
She first received an anonymous message on Telegram telling her she could earn 1.3-percent commission by writing movie reviews online.
However, she was asked to transfer a certain amount of money each time she finished a “mission,” with the sum ranging from a couple hundred dollars to over HK$300,000. After eventually losing contact with the scammer, she reported the case to the police.
The news came as a total of 3,954 fraud cases related to online shopping were recorded in the first six months of the year, 41-percent higher than the same period last year.
However, despite the rising number of cases, police recorded a 21.3-percent drop in monetary loss overall.
Officers also worked with social media platforms and secondhand selling sites to combat online-shopping crimes.
Maggie Tam Chun-lan, Meta’s public policy manager for Hong Kong, Macau and Mongolia, said that Facebook had set up a designated team and an AI-driven system to detect suspicious pages and accounts.
The platform removed 1.7 billion fake accounts and 1.2 billion spam posts worldwide between October and December, Tam noted.
Kevin Huang Jiunn-jin, managing director of secondhand trade platform Carousell Hong Kong, said buyers who are chatting with sellers under review for disputes would be sent notifications to warn them.
People should be suspicious of new accounts and sellers who only accept electronic payment methods or payment via personal bank accounts, Fan advised.