China loves short video so now the scammers are moving in
Of course free iPhones and free puppies are too good to be true
You’d think falling for online scams only happens to old people, but in China, young people are now getting fooled on their favorite platform.
Scammers are getting bigger on short video apps, Xinhua said, naming Tencent’s Weishi, Kuaishou and Bytedance’s Douyin, which is known overseas as TikTok.
Scams on these apps are mostly online loans, according to Xinhua. The state-run media outlet blasted the three apps for loose censorship because users can easily use a profile picture and username to impersonate other platforms -- like Alipay -- and for the apps’ lack of warning for suspicious links.
(Abacus is a unit of the South China Morning Post, which is owned by Alibaba, whose affiliate Ant Financial owns Alipay.)
Tencent and Bytedance have yet to respond to our request for comment. Kuaishou did not comment on the Xinhua article, but said they have a series of measures to prevent scams.
10 scam cases on TikTok occurred in 9 days in October in one Chinese city, according to local media. Nearly half of them enticed users with cash rewards and five of them were involved with dating. The average age of victims? 26.4 years old.
One 14 year old reportedly saw a short video on TikTok saying that they’re giving away free puppies. He asked for one, but the scammer said that even though the puppy is free, they need to pay for transport and vaccinations. So the teenager paid 3,830 yuan (US$552), only to find out that he was blocked by the scammer. (And of course, there was no puppy.)
Other cases worked in a similar way, giving away free iPhones -- while asking for a variety of other fees.
Chinese people love watching short video. TikTok, made by viral king Bytedance, said last month that it now has more than 200 million daily active users -- that’s nearly a quarter of all mobile internet users in China. People are susceptible to scams on short video platforms because background information in short videos are often very murky and fragmented, according to local police.