S'pore man loses savings meant for 'special needs daughter' to Carousell scammer

The buyer asked to pay via Carousell Protection.

Gawain Pek | December 25, 2022, 01:31 PM

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Scammers are aplenty in the Wild West virtual world.

It definitely pays to be a bit more vigilant and cautious with who you are dealing with when shopping online.

This was the takeaway for Facebook user Wak Yan, whose Dec. 24 post about his experience falling victim to a scam on Carousell has been making the rounds on the social media platform.

Payment by Carousell Protection for S$15 item

Wak Yan shared in the post that his wife and him are "frugal" and use Carousell frequently to get good deals or to sell items to bring in some cash.

They are parents to five children, one of whom has "special needs", Wak Yan revealed.

Going about their routine, Wak Yan's wife listed an unused money box for sale on the platform at S$15 on Friday (Dec. 23).

Image via Wak Yan/Facebook.

Later that day at around 6:19pm, an interested buyer going by username @justniezam, approached Wak Yan's wife on the platform to ask about the item.

According to screenshots of the chat shared by Wak Yan, the buyer appeared to be from Central Jakarta.

Image via Wak Yan/Facebook.

"So, as usual, she engaged in the conversation in hopes to close the deal ASAP. (... well it's just $15.. why waste time right?)", Wak Yan said.

Eventually, the buyer requested to make payment via Carousell Protection.

Carousell Protection is a payment option offered by Carousell that allows buyers to release payment to sellers only after the item has been received.

Those who opt for this method of payment do so for big-ticket items.

Image via Wak Yan/Facebook.

According to Wak Yan, his wife found this odd as they usually received payment through PayNow or on a cash-on-delivery basis.

On top of that, the item was only S$15.

However, his wife dismissed the oddity, thinking that perhaps it was just a buyer being cautious after previous experiences of getting scammed.

The pair also dealt in good faith, having had positive experiences on the platform so far.

Well, you know, our experiences with past buyers & sellers had been really good and hassle-free. We have been dealing with honest and reasonable people. Super easy to deal with kind. Everyone was very "sikit-lebih-kurang" ("very reasonable" in Malay). We were complacent this time. We assumed that it'll all be the same.

The scam

After agreeing to proceed with Carousell Protection, the buyer eventually asked for the seller's email, sharing a screenshot of what seemed to be the Carousell Protection website.

Image via Wak Yan/Facebook.

Image via Wak Yan/Facebook.

The scammer then told Wak Yan's wife that he had made payment. All they had to do was click on the link in an email to finish the transaction.

Later, Wak Yan found that the email ended up in the junk folder.

Then, he made the "grave mistake" of not validating the email and immediately clicking on the link.

"A page appears. It says, something like, 'to receive your payment, login to your bank account'. And so I clicked it without thinking", Wak Yan admitted.

Wak Yan said he did not screenshot the page to show what it looked like, but said it resembled the DBS iBanking portal.

He proceeded to log in and was brought to a loading page.

Image via Wak Yan/Facebook.

Wak Yan's suspicions were raised at this point, as it was 7pm on a Friday evening.

"Are bankers still working at this hour?" he thought to himself.

However, as the family was preparing for evening prayers, they "didn't think too much of it".

Throughout the process, the scammer hurried Wak Yan's wife over Carousell chat, repeatedly asking if they had received the email and suggesting they check with the bank why the transaction was not loading.

Image via Wak Yan/Facebook.

Image via Wak Yan/Facebook.

Image via Wak Yan/Facebook.

Wak Yan shared that a prompt eventually told him to change bank accounts.

He then entered the login details of his wife's bank account and punched in the one-time pin.

"I got irritated with the "latency" and so I told my wife to just put the phone down and to just start praying." Wak Yan recounted.

Money remitted to Thailand

It was only after finishing prayers that the couple realised that the bank transaction had gone awry.

Wak Yan's wife was the first to find out after checking on the Carousell transaction.

My wife said to me in a shaky voice... "Abanggg... kita dah tak ada duit!! DUIT HUSNA SEMUA HILANGGG!!!"(Dear... we don't have any more money! Husna's savings are gone!!!)

Checking against an email from POSB and in the bank's app, they discovered that the savings was remitted in Thai Baht to a person in Thailand.

Image via Wak Yan/Facebook.

Image via Wak Yan/Facebook.

The pair then called DBS, whose officer confirmed that they had possibly fallen victim to a scam and helped freeze their accounts.

On Carousell, Wak Yan's wife confronted the scammer over the chat, who feigned ignorance before giving a cryptic reply.

Image via Wak Yan/Facebook.

Image via Wak Yan/Facebook.

Wak Yan added that eventually, the scammer's account was suspended and a police report was lodged

Hard-earned money for daughter's needs

Reflecting on the experience, Wak Yan blamed himself for being careless.

We know that the chances of getting our money back is really slim. We're not counting on it, in fact. But all those funds... crucial, essential funds... for our special little girl... gone. Just like that. Due to my carelessness. None to blame, but my own. Lesson learnt. (... painfully.)

On the post, Wak Yan uploaded photos of his daughter receiving treatment at a hospital, sharing that "wires and tubes are a norm for her".

Image via Wak Yan/Facebook.

He also pointed out the irony of what happened, given that Carousell Protection was supposed to "mitigate these risks".

He wrote that he will "hustle harder in 2023", and was sharing the post to create awareness of such scams.

Carousell advisory on scams

The link that Wak Yan was sent and clicked on. Image via Wak Yan/Facebook.

According to an advisory by Carousell, all of the platform's website ends with "carousell.com".

Other than on our own website (http://carousell.com/) or links found in our Help Centre, we will never direct you to websites to key in the following details:

  • Email address
  • Password
  • Credit or debit card number
  • Mobile number

Top image via Wak Yan/Facebook