Online business

Expert Urges Caution when Shopping Online

Digital expert Chy Sophat has issued a warning for Cambodians to protect themselves when shopping online to avoid being defrauded.
Chy Sophat speaks at Cambodia ICT Camp 2022 in Siem Reap June 24, 2022. Kiripost/via Sok Raksmey
Chy Sophat speaks at Cambodia ICT Camp 2022 in Siem Reap June 24, 2022. Kiripost/via Sok Raksmey

SIEM REAP, A digital expert is urging citizens to take caution when shopping online due to a rise in scams, accelerated in Cambodia due to the pandemic increasing digital payments.

Chy Sophat, who spoke at Cambodia’s ICT Camp 2022 in Siem Reap on Friday, said scams have been on the rise. He warned buyers to use banking-based payments when sending money instead of a money transferring agency, which does not record data at both ends.

“A lot of cases have already happened in terms of when we buy products online,” Sophat said. “If we see a website is trustworthy already, we begin to think how safe the online payment system is.”

Sophat said cheating often takes place when money is transferred and the product is not delivered or a Facebook account is blocked.

“On the internet, nothing is safe,” he said. He went on to give an example of a friend who had bought an ice bucket from a major Facebook page. However, when it arrived it was broken. Attempts to contact the seller were unsuccessful.

They avoid accepting bank transfers to conceal their identity. Money bank transfers show the identity of users on both ends, making them a safe option.

Online clothes selling via Facebook live is also an issue. Sellers are able to buy the number of viewers to attract others to join the live feed.

“This can be a machine or one person using 10, 20, 30, 40 or 100 telephones,” he said. “We as buyers must be careful also, we can’t say the algorism on Facebook nowadays is right, so there is nothing real.”

He added there are cases when fake pages have been created to mimic authentic pages.

Sophat’s lecture on online spam was part of a broader talk, ‘Smartphones: Data Privacy and Protection’. Sixty percent of the population have smartphones, in which 71 percent of them use Android systems. Twenty one percent use the IOS system, he said.

Sophat also advised people not to use unsecure WiFi, use a VPN and not install unverified apps.

His words sparked an audience member to warn people not to fall for romance spam. This commonly sees women tricked into taking off their clothes to later be extorted for money. Sophat said the issue is burning and, in some cases, people do not want to come out and speak about it.

Two workers from rights groups Licadho and Adhoc, who were also in the audience, urged people or know of people who have experienced these issues to come forward so they can help.

The ICT camp, organized by the Open Development Cambodia (ODC) with funding from the Netherlands, was joined by nearly 100 people during the five days.

In a virtual address on Friday, Remco van Wijngaarden, Ambassador of the Netherlands, said freedom of expression is the ability of an individual or group of individuals to express their beliefs, thoughts, ideas, and emotions about different issues.

“Free from government censorship, this freedom is the fundamental freedom to be expressed off and online,” van Wijngaarden said.