Mon | Dec 6, 2021

Fraudsters exploiting COVID e-commerce boom – Cox

Published:Thursday | April 29, 2021 | 12:25 AMNadine Wilson-Harris/Staff Reporter

Caribbean people have been warned to guard against becoming victims of advance fee fraud and Ponzi schemes amid an increase in electronic commerce during the coronavirus pandemic.

Displacement caused by COVID-19 has increased reliance on online portals for business, learning, and other routine tasks like shopping at the supermarket.

Joseph Cox, assistant secretary general for trade and economic integration at the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, referenced the introduction of the E-Commerce National Delivery System, a private-sector-government partnership facilitating the quick-service industry and delivery operators during lockdowns,

But he cautioned that fraudsters would tap the growing base of e-commerce users.

“All sorts of charlatans will come to the table seeking to offer quick fix solutions,” said Cox, a former executive director of the growth secretariat at the Planning Institute of Jamaica, during the virtual launch of the publication The New Normal – A Post-COVID Primer for Business.

“Anybody that comes to you with these quick-rich schemes, think of it through the lens of the word SORROW. For me, it’s an acronym, which means these will be strategic organisations for the relief and redistribution of your wealth.”

The 120-page publication, which was authored by Cox, is essentially a manual that provides guidance on how regional economies can navigate this turbulent period. It addresses myriad issues of particular relevance to the regional business community.

“The strategies offered in this publication seek to secure the future of our business community as we forge ahead, united with fixity of purpose,” said the economics consultant.

The book has received endorsement from several past and current regional political and business leaders, including former Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding, who cautioned that unlike other crises, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic would not be temporary.

“Because of the worsening economic inequalities that it is generating, we are likely to see social instability in many parts of the world that will probably erupt in unpredictable ways, and that in itself will become an obstacle to recovery,” Golding said.

Golding believes that the issues and prescriptions highlighted by Cox in the book would have been relevant and appropriate even if it had been published two years before the onset of COVID.

The former prime minister lamented that the region had wasted wringing its hands over the economic injustice caused by globalisation.

“We in the Caribbean are afflicted with a lethargy and unresponsiveness towards the changing dynamics of the world in which we live and on which we must depend for our prosperity,” he argued.

The New Normal – A Post-COVID Primer for Business can be accessed for free on the CARICOM website.