Will easy-money scams continue to haunt us?
It is gravely concerning that online scams are showing no signs of letting up; in fact, as the days pass, they just take new forms to deceit people. A recent report has brought to light how at least a hundred unsuspecting individuals have been duped through elaborate online scams. With so many such incidents making headlines regularly, we wonder what's stopping the administration from taking robust measures to stop them.
To illustrate the extent of damage, the report mentioned how one individual gave away over Tk 9 lakh to scammers. The plan goes like this: fraudsters offer online jobs with unusually high remuneration for menial tasks, such as subscribing to YouTube channels. Once they gain trust by paying a small remuneration, they urge victims to invest to earn even more. The story ends with the criminals vanishing with the invested money.
These stories are more harrowing when we hear that sometimes people borrow heavily from banks, friends, and family in the hopes of earning easy money. Scams like this thus eventually upturn lives and devastate families. According to a report by Prothom Alo, an estimated Tk 22,000 crore remains stuck in MLM and e-commerce platforms, unlikely to ever be recovered, with approximately one crore potential victims of scams. Over the last 15 years, Tk 92,000 crore has also been looted via bank scams, as per the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD).
Why—even after so many sensational scams—do our people still fall prey to these crimes or criminals? While greed is certainly a factor, we cannot ignore the systemic pitfalls. The blame must not solely fall on victims, but also on the prevailing financial insecurity, inequality, and lack of adequate financial governance. Jobseekers are especially vulnerable to fraud as they may be in desperate need of money. The government can—and must—address these issues to eliminate this plague.
Right now, the authorities should ramp up online vigilance and provide appropriate training to law enforcers for tackling crimes on social media. Laws must not remain on paper; swift action is a must to deter scammers. Besides, as foreign nationals are getting increasingly involved in these ploys, international collaboration and monitoring is essential. Finally, large-scale awareness campaigns are imperative to educate people on how to detect scams. These measures, along with resolving the deep-seated structural issues, can help root out such online frauds.