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January 24, 2018

Online scam luring users into buying adult toys - via The Nation

ISLAMABAD -  A new online scam has surfaced in which users are lured into buying adult toys and after the sale a vicious circle of blackmailing starts.

Internet users are sent captivating messages with the pictures of stunning models, on Whatsapp and other social media.

As soon as one opens the message it is hard to avoid the temptation, especially for youth. “I received a message on my Whatsapp regarding a product claiming to boost sexual health. I opened it and it was full of adult products, we only see in adult magazines. I ordered one and paid Rs4,000 but the article was never delivered,” said Zulfiqar a student of a local university.

He said some of his friends also bought some products from some other stores. They got the product but they were of very cheap quality, the student said.

A friend of mine ordered a silicone doll but after paying Rs16,000 he received a cheap quality doll, worth some hundred rupees only, he said.

With the phenomenal increase in internet users in the country, many adult virtual stores have popped up, the student said.

With over 51 million broadband subscribers, and 31 million active users , Pakistan’s e-commerce landscape is changing fast. With around half of the population consisting of millennials, businesses and fraudsters are busy finding ways to penetrate the young segment of the society.

Due to lack of a robust digital infrastructure, and insecure online transactions, majority of e-commerce transactions are still based on the cash-on-delivery model in the country.

The fraudsters take advantage of this and when someone tells them their name and address they start ripping him off. With local contact numbers and online representative, the stores sell most of the hi-tech adult products available anywhere in the world.

The web pages have detailed description of each product with an order form.

Once the form is filled, the interested users are pushed to buy the product.

Some have reported they were threatened that they would tell on their parents about their purchase and they end up paying to the web store representatives.

Those who are willing to open up against the harassment and mental torture they went through after the purchase, complain that there is nowhere to complaint.

“Despite repeated attempts I failed to lodge my complaint to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority,” said ‘A’ on condition of anonymity.  Ruling out option to go to police and the FIA, due to social barriers, he said that the toll free number of the PTA did not respond and when he tried through landline the officials said they had no section to take complaints regarding online scams concerning adult stores.

He said that after being blackmailed for months, he finally told his parents that his account was hacked and someone made some purchases online using his details. He said that he was lucky his parents were kind and ignored the whole episode. He demanded authorities to ban all illegal stores selling illegal material and arrest the fraudsters and educate users to avoid scams.

As per regulations, banning the objectionable and fraudulent online stores fall in the domain of the PTA.

When contacted, sources in the PTA said online selling of sex-related products was banned in the country and the sale of sex toys fell in the category of sale of obnoxious material.

They, however, pointed out that in absence of chairman, the department’s functions had almost been halted and officials discourage any type of complaints. They alleged many irregularities in the affairs of the regulatory body.

In absence of permanent chairman and member finance, Member Compliance and Enforcement Abdul Samad is working as acting chairman, in addition to his duties of Compliance and Enforcement.

Samad was not available to comment on the matter despite promises from his staff. After the completion of tenure of Dr Ismail Shah, last year, the PTA is functioning without any chairman. No one from the media department responded to the queries.

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