As more and more people turn to purchase sacrificial animals online this year Eidul Azha, due to fears of contracting the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) in the cattle markets, cybercrime authorities have warned the public of deceitful purchases.
In an advisory issued on Sunday, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) said that the percentage of losses in online purchasing of sacrificial animals has increased to 60 per cent during the pandemic.
It explained that some unscrupulous elements upload photos and videos of beautiful and healthy animals from other sources on the internet. When a customer places an order, they deliver an animal which is markedly different from what had been advertised or disappear entirely after the online transaction is complete.
An FIA Cyber Crime official confirmed that this year, the online method of purchasing sacrificial animals has taken off due to the pandemic, but they were witnessing unsafe practices.
Vendors show videos and photos of animals after stealing them from other websites or online platforms. They then change their locations using an internet proxy to deal with customers while hiding their real location to avoid getting caught.
The official said that these nefarious elements then disappear once the transaction is complete but the customer is left without money or sacrificial animal.
In another fraudulent activity, vendors show one animal and strike a deal over it but then end up delivering a different animal. The cargo service, which is responsible for delivering the animal to the consignee, refuses to take any responsibility for what has been delivered since it was only required to transport the animal.
The FIA official suggested that buyers remain extra cautious when shopping for sacrificial animals online.
People should prefer online vendors who deal with cash-on-delivery service, he added.
He also recommended that credit or debit cards should not be used in such transactions as cybercriminals can steal banking information.
The official said that the cybercrime wing of FIA is taking action against deceitful online vendors daily and that all such suspects are blacklisted on the internet.
The FIA official further said that the people can report any kind of fraudulent activity to the FIA cybercrime wing, promising that they will take action against culprits.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2020.
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