SCAMMERS have exploited awaited smartphone releases through pre-launch fraud schemes requiring upfront payment or personal financial information, according to cybersecurity firm Kaspersky.

Unsuspecting consumers face potential data and financial losses through these schemes, Kaspersky said in a statement on Tuesday.

“In the digital age, scammers are constantly adapting and exploiting our excitement for the latest tech trends,” Tatyana Kulikova, security expert at Kaspersky, said.

“It’s crucial for consumers to stay vigilant, verify offers, and safeguard their personal information,” she added. “If something seems too good to be true, it often is.”

The Philippines was the second most-attacked country by web threats worldwide last year with 39,387,052 detected cases, data from Kaspersky showed.

Recently, scammers have claimed to provide exclusive pre-release Apple iPhone 15 units, Kaspersky said.

“Users are asked to provide personal identification details such as their name, address, and phone number,” it said. “Following the submission of payment, the scammers vanish, leaving victims without the promised iPhone and deprived of their funds.”

“Beyond the financial risks, this scam also raises significant privacy concerns, as the pilfered data may potentially be sold on the Dark Market,” Kaspersky added.

Giveaway schemes are also used in these scams, where customers are instructed to pay a small fee, often disguised as a “processing” or “registration” fee, for a chance to win a new smartphone, it said.

“Users are drawn in by the allure of a free iPhone 15, perfectly complementing their anticipation for the impending release,” it said.

Customers should verify the source, avoid up-front payments, look at official channels and check reviews, especially for pre-release purchases, to avoid becoming a victim of these schemes, Kaspersky said. — M.H.L. Antivola