Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Cooperatives, Manoa Kamikamica, responded to Assistant Minister Tomasi Tunabuna’s question in parliament on the update of the establishment of a taskforce on online fraudulent activities and its plans. Kamikamica revealed the total value of losses from fraudulent cases such as E-bay shop scams, impersonation to obtain financial advantage, and bitcoin crypto-currency is $3.1 million.
The scam taskforce was established this year by the Government to address the significant and concerning fraudulent activities occurring in the country. The Fiji Police Force has set up a task force in each division to determine the severity of the matter.
The Ministry of Trade, the Police, the Online Safety Commission, the Reserve Bank of Fiji, the Consumer Council and FCCC are collaborating to enable comprehensive investigations to proceed. As of 31st October 2023, the task force has received 1,859 complaints and some people have been taken in for questioning, with the outcome expected soon.
Kamikamica attributes this to the rising technologies and the rise of e-commerce platforms that is still new and not fully regulated in Fiji and the Pacific countries. M-PAiSA and MyCash are becoming popular tools for cashless payments and money transfers, thus a review of existing regulations and identification of gaps to safeguard consumer protection is required.
The taskforce assesses, reviews, and monitors online fraudulent activities both locally and abroad, to prevent money leakages offshore. During the taskforce meetings, Vodafone and Digicel were invited to provide support, nurture awareness of the ongoing scams involving e-wallets and create more secure platforms, programs, and initiatives. The Reserve Bank of Fiji and the Consumer Council are collaborating with a digital solutions provider to provide a pro-active approach to awareness and educate the public on online scams.
Kamikamica urges the public to be financially aware when confronted with such schemes and to prevent becoming victims of these ventures.