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Czechs lost over billion crowns in Internet frauds in 2014

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Prague, Aug 24 (CTK) – Internet fraudsters stripped Czechs of a total of 1.2 billion crowns last year, daily Pravo writes Monday, citing data released to it by the Police Presidium.

The police registered almost 2,500 cases of Internet fraud in 2014, which is one third more than in 2013.

The increase shows that the Czechs are still not cautious enough when purchasing goods and services via the Internet and that they protect their access and e-banking passwords insufficiently, Pravo writes.

The police warn that e-customers should never pay in advance and should be cautious towards the offers that are suspiciously advantageous.

The incautious approach backfired, for example, on a 46-year-old woman from west Bohemia, referred to as Irena. She decided to buy cheap and quality furniture from a man who offered it via the Internet. The seller requested an advance payment of 6,000 crowns, which Irena sent to him. After doing so, however, she never heard anything from him again, the paper writes.

After the incident, Irena found another four people who swallowed the same fraudster’s bait. Three of them have lodged a criminal complaint against an unknown perpetrator, Pravo writes.

IT expert Daniel Docekal said people can never be sure that the offer of goods on the Internet is honest and reliable, but they can take certain steps to reduce the risk.

Potential customers should first seek the assessments and experience other clients have with the chosen seller, and they should verify the seller’s contact data, Docekal said.

A warning symptom is when the offered price is “miraculously” low or conditions of the deal excessively advantageous, if the seller tries to avoid a phone contact or communicates from suspicious e-mail addresses, Docekal told Pravo.

Servers mediating advertisement say they are unable to uncover a fraudulent advertisement beforehand, the daily writes.

“If we find out that a customer was cheated, we can block the user who posted the fraudulent advertisement,” Irena Zatloukalova, spokeswoman of the server that operates the advertisement web, is quoted as saying.

As a preventive step, most servers post warnings and recommendations for customers on their websites.

For example, clients should not satisfy themselves with the seller sending a copy of his personal documents to them, because the document can be stolen.

The seller’s poor command of Czech is also a warning symptom, Pravo writes.

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