It is no surprise that in this day and age people are suspicious of taking calls from marketing companies or people they simply don’t know. For companies like Plustel Solutions, an established telemarketer and global communications company based in Cavite, Philippines it is something that “has to be taken into account each and every day, each and every time a call is made to a potential prospect” says Andrew Robson, General Manager.
“People are wary and so they should be” added Paul McAlpine, Manager of Plustel Solutions. The proliferation of scams and frauds perpetrated through emails and over the telephone should give cause for thought to anyone receiving contact from a person or company that they have never previously heard of.
This, of course, makes the job of legitimate, registered and authorised companies such as Plustel that little bit harder.
Being located in the Philippines, the call centre capital of the world since 2015, and “speaking to new people by phone every day, people tell us about attempted frauds and scams that they or their friends have heard of or in some instances been embroiled into” said Andrew Robson. As a result, “we would like to educate people a little better in the hope that they will be able to distinguish a genuine call from a potential trap about to be sprung.”
For this article, we will cover scams that are reported in this country, amongst other countries, in the hope that if you are approached, being forewarned is being forearmed.
The Philippines is a country with a large population of young females and when compared to standards in many western countries, are living in poverty-stricken circumstances and struggling to raise children.
It is no surprise that these young women (and sometimes men) look to repatriate funds from single or lonely men in parts of the world that are generally regarded as wealthy in order to improve their own lives. Whilst the majority of the Filipino population is honest, hardworking, multilingual and extremely friendly, as in any country there is an element that seeks money in any way that they can. With a huge amount of cam to cam and dating sites available on the internet, it is no surprise that western men are attracted to the exotic beauties online, especially those men that are retired, single or widowed.
This in itself is perfectly acceptable, who would begrudge a lonely soul that second chance to find love? But not all contacts are as straightforward as they seem.
After a period of rapport building, warning signs to watch out for are requests for financial help. Again, this may be genuine, due to the financial circumstances some women find themselves in but you need to ask yourself – am I being lined up to be scammed or simply helping someone improve their lot in a small way.
Common requests that should be watched out for might be that they need money to buy a new webcam, in order to better see the new love of their life. Whilst this is a relatively small expense, it is sometimes used to get the ball rolling so to speak and is often followed by further requests or the recipient may simply disappear.
More serious losses can be incurred if credit card details are provided. One example of this maybe if the woman claims to be working “part time” as a webcam host and provides a link to a “free” chat site. The chat site may require your credit card as age verification. After receiving your next credit card statement you may see that you have been billed for “adult chat services” or something similar.
You may be asked to assist with education expenses, either to help the women change her life for the better via gaining a degree or educational attainment or maybe it is to help her send her child to a better school – or just to school, period.
Daily living expenses may be requested, for food, rent, and bills, preying on your sympathy for someone in a less fortunate position than you.
After a more lengthy courtship period, the scammer may want to come and visit you. After asking for the initial costs of the fare, further requests may follow for passport expenses, visa fees and so on. A fake plane ticket may even be shown as proof that they are coming. It is then that you may be contacted saying that the visa requirement demands that a certain amount of money needs to be visible on their account in order to attain the visa.
It is generally that whilst waiting at the arrival terminal at your local airport waiting for your new friend to disembark does the realisation dawn that no one is coming – and you have lost your money. These scams do not just affect financial stability. Many people invest a lot of time and emotional energy to these online relationships and to find out that you have fallen foul to a fraud or scam can lead to heartbreak and self-doubt. It may also lead to a feeling of worthlessness and not wanting to find anyone new again. For those already suffering from loneliness, this can be particularly devastating.
To successfully navigate the often turbulent waters of online dating, whether, in your country or half way around the world, the guidelines remain the same.
Make it clear from the outset that you are not a money bank and will not be sending any cash at all. If after chatting online for a reasonable time you do want to meet the person, make it clear that you will be the one travelling to them and if they are genuine, they should be happy with that. If they are not genuine and merely looking for an easy mark, they will soon grow tired of talking to you and move on to a potentially more profitable target.
Whilst these type of scams are certainly not restricted to any particular country, the widespread use of the English language along with the natural beauty of many of these online fraudsters (if indeed the picture you see is in fact who you are talking to) makes the Philippines one area of the world where these scams can be perpetrated from, although most certainly not the only one by any means. The location of these people could be anywhere in the world and even in your own country.
If you are someone that is thinking of visiting the Philippines, do not be disheartened, pack your bags and come – “it is a beautiful country with fantastic people” says long-time resident Paul McAlpine and as long as you are cautious, as with any travel situation, “your stay in the Philippines will be a memorable one for all the right reasons and undoubtedly lead to a return visit” noted the General Manager of Plustel, Andrew Robson, who himself has been living in the country for a number of years.