200,000 pieces of cheap face shields? Public warned of online scams as demand rises

August 7, 2020 - 5:11 PM
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Face shield at swab testing
A laboratory attendant conducting swab testing for the 2019 coronavirus at Philippine Arena in Bulacan in May 2020. (The STAR/Michael Varcas, file)

Reports of bogus online transactions involving face shields surfaced on social media following the recommendation of the government to wear them in public places during a coronavirus pandemic.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque at a televised inter-agency meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte on July 31 said that the wearing of face shields would be part of the minimum health standards.

This was later on clarified to indicate that its use is only highly encouraged but not yet part of a definite requirement.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, however, said that it may soon be part of the new guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease.

The Department of Transportation said that it will require all commuters and public transportation operators to wear face shields beginning August 15 covering aviation, railway, road and maritime sectors.

The new policy caused the demand for face shields to soar.

Since Metro Manila and some of its surrounding regions are under a stringent “modified” quarantine, a bulk of retail transactions are done online and items are delivered through courier services.

Alleged scams

Some social media users, however, noticed that dubious sellers of shields are on the rise as the demand for face shields increase.

Facebook user Zoralliane Cuenca on Thursday shared a conversation she had with a friend whom she claimed was scammed to purchase face shields for P19 per piece.

To make the offer attractive, 500,000 pieces would be made available for the transaction.

However, the seller reportedly did not make an appearance on the day of the supposed meet-up even after the friend had already made a downpayment.

Another victim ng 19 PESOS NA FACESHIELD !!!! AYAN NA SINSABI KO EH ! kakahanap nyo ng mura mapupunta kayo sa bogus eh…

Posted by Zoralliane Cuenca on Thursday, August 6, 2020

 

A Filipino suggested in the comments section that people should refrain from looking for extremely cheap face shields and to personally make sure that there are sufficient stocks of face shields before agreeing to such transactions.

Facebook user Saijem Nylaras also noticed the sudden rise of online buyers looking for significant volumes of face shields.

“Ang yayaman ng buyer ng face shield ‘no? 600k PC’s (pieces) nagpapahanap SA iba. Mga millionaire. Pero take note. Ang mga LEGIT (na) negosyanteng millionaire dumadirect ‘yan madalas SA manufacturer,” she said.

Nylaras added that fake online sellers use “techniques” to make people resort to “panic buying” and warned that one should be vigilant if someone claims to look for “100k, 200k, 300k, 500k,” pieces of face shields.

Facebook user Dapgabden Mangubat Calindas likewise noticed the exorbitant demand for 200,000, 500,000 and even one million pieces of face shields.

“Magpopost ng mura, hindi pala onhand at ang matindi, scammer pa,” she said.

“Hindi ‘to padamihan. Hindi rin pababaan ng presyo. Hindi baleng mas mahal (nang) kaunti basta L.E.G.I.T.  Aanhin mo ang mura, kung scam pala. Imbes na kumita ka, nalugi ka pa,” Calindas added.

A Facebook post, meanwhile, warned online sellers to be aware of the law of supply and demand to avoid being scammed by suppliers.

The law of demand notes that at higher prices, buyers will demand less of a particular good while the law of supply states that at higher prices, sellers will supply more of an economic good, according to Investopedia.

The online post further explained: “Halimbawa, bumili ka ng 200,000 pieces kuno ng face shield [for] P25 each, that’s 5 [million] pesos [na] puhunan at ibebenta mo ng P35 each. Then apply the Law of Demand and Supply, madami ang supply at may kayang magbigay ng P25 per pieces at [‘yun] na [‘yung] puhunan mo, talo ka na agad.”

“At sa mga seller, BEWARE sa mga nagtatanong ng 200,000 or 500,000 pieces. Mataas ang possibility na scam ‘yun. 200k x 25 = P5 million. Kung ikaw may puhunan na P5 million, bakit ‘di ka na lang dumirekta sa supplier mismo?” it added.

Duterte in his penultimate State of the Nation Address on July 27 warned online scammers that the government will go after them as it intensifies consumer protection amid the rise of e-commerce during quarantine period.

The Department of Trade and Industry last month said that has mobilized its work-from-home staff to monitor online selling and help consumers from being victimized by scammers and bogus transactions.

The agency is similarly on the lookout for online sellers refusing to disclose item prices with the infamous “PM is the key” line, indicating that potential customers should directly send a message to the seller to inquire about a product’s rate.

Online sellers are now required by the Bureau of Internal Revenue to register their businesses until August 31 to establish their identities and traceability in a bid to avoid bogus transactions.