Hoping to gain a fortune this Chinese New Year? So are scammers. Learn how to guard yourself against their ploys this festive season so that you don't end up giving away a huge red packet unwittingly.

Chinese New Year, the season of red packets, bak kwa, mandarin oranges…and scams? Unfortunately, this festive season is also the perfect opportunity for scammers to concoct Chinese New Year scams.

Fake bak kwa shops that demand upfront payment and scammers impersonating relatives asking for red packets are just a few examples of such schemes.

This Chinese New Year, celebrate with caution and guard against scams by following these three simple steps:

1. Think before giving

Without red packets, Chinese New Year is just not the same. Recent advancements in digital payments have allowed the convenience of electronic red packets to become a more popular means of giving to relatives. However, this is also an opportunity for scammers who attempt to impersonate friends or relatives of their targets, and request for an electronic red packet from them.

This festive season, be wary of anyone who contacts you asking for money. One solution is to verify their identity with a video call before sending any to them. Sending an "e-hongbao" is instant and often irreversible, so be careful not to let your generosity cost you your savings.

2. Think before filling

E-commerce is a booming industry, especially during Chinese New Year when items such as bak kwa are in high demand. Scammers may take advantage of this frenzy by setting up fake e-commerce shops that sell products at a substantially lower price than the market rate.

These shops present site visitors with forms for filling in personal information, such as one's mobile number and social media account details. This is an efficient way of collecting a mass amount of information which scammers can then use for fraudulent purposes.

Before filling up any forms, ensure the authenticity of the shop - if you are unsure, it is always safer not to continue with the order.


3. Think before responding

Among the myriad of methods scammers use to con their victims, phone calls and SMSes are some of the most common. These scammers craft deceitful messages often with believable backstories to convince their victims of their legitimacy before sinking their teeth in.

When you receive calls or messages from unknown numbers, beware of callers or senders who pressure you with urgent phrases such as "as soon as possible (ASAP)". Bad grammar, poor sentence structure and spelling errors are also often tell-tale signs of scams. If you suspect an unknown caller or messenger is trying to take advantage of you, simply stop the conversation and block the caller.

With all the hubbub of celebration, it is easy for such scam tactics to catch you unaware. This Chinese New Year, vigilance is key.

the bottom line:

Think carefully before you give this festive season so you don't allow scammers to take a fortune from you.

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