By Brontë H. Lacsamana, Reporter
FRAUDULENT websites claiming to be Swedish home furnishings retailer IKEA have scammed 718 Filipino customers as of March 3, with their transactions collectively reaching P1.4 million, according to Ikea Philippines.
As a victim of identity theft, the company has filed a complaint against these websites with the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) cybercrime division.
“Ikea is relatively new in the country, so these scammers take advantage of that,” said Daniel Rivero, Ikea’s store manager in the Pasay City branch, the company’s only physical store in the Philippines.
“We take this issue very seriously. Filipinos have a very good impression of Ikea, and we want to keep it that way,” he told BusinessWorld at a press conference on March 3.
More than 64 websites have pretended to be connected with the home furnishings giant by using the Ikea name and logo. The average transaction is about P2,000.
Leontina Bucur, Ikea’s country sales manager, clarified that their only official sales channel is their website, ikea.ph.
“We don’t sell on Facebook, Instagram, or any other social media or e-commerce platform,” she said. “We also don’t offer free delivery, which is what these scammers claim.”
The fraudulent websites peddle products that are not even on the Ikea catalog, like luggage, scooters, treadmills, laptops, and wheelchairs.
Both the cybercrime unit of the PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation, aside from looking into Ikea’s complaint, urged the company to inform the public about spotting fake online stores and filing their own complaints and inquiries.
“Scam victims should take legal action on the basis of computer-related fraud because, at the end of the day, they were the ones scammed by the perpetrators,” Ikea’s complaint will be limited to computer-related identity theft, not fraud,” Angela M. De Gracia-Cruz, official state counsel of the Department of Justice’s cybercrime office, said at the press conference.
Ikea Philippines said the very first report of a scam they received occurred in June last year. The victim was a customer who saw an ad on Facebook sporting the Ikea name and logo and went to the fraudulent website to place an order, which was never delivered.
Consumers are advised to be vigilant, subscribe to the official Ikea digital and social media channels, and always check if the website link is indeed ikea.ph.