- July 19, 2020 5:48 AM
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- January 27, 2023 10:59 AM
PHNOM PENH – Social observers warn citizens to beware of fake wealthy businessmen and non-professional online product sellers who make consumers believe they could easily achieve wealth and fame, by copying their practices on social media.
Such behavior causes a negative impact on society, claim social commentators, who instead push for more education and awareness to avoid shortcomings for consumers.
“Entrepreneurs who like to show off their material possessions to sell their fame on social media expose themselves and their belongings too much, increasing the risk of robbery. In addition, they convey the idea that young people can start a business easily, without properly studying the market beforehand,” said Lim Viriya, a soft skills trainer and part-time business professor at Build Bright University.
She explained that those who like to show off their money, cars, or other expensive items are somehow urging young people to adopt a risk-taking approach to acquire expensive goods rather than spend time studying.
“They use social media to influence followers and trick them. Young people want to be cool like them and make a lot of money to buy modern and expensive equipment,” she said.
In recent years, online sales through social media have spiked in Cambodia. Influencers sell all types of products – skin care lotions, food or even jewelry – in bulk to individuals, who most of the time are not professional distributors.
It is then up to them to sell it back to consumers while paying cash in advance for the supply, sometimes several hundred or even thousand dollars.
Pa Chanroeun, president of the Cambodian Institute for Democracy, agreed that business influencers show off their materialism and profits on social media, creating Facebook groups and live streams to comment on and promote their products.
He pointed out that some of them actually rent jewelry, cars, or phones for the only purpose of fooling the public.
“Some consumers easily fall into the trap of those crooks. Once they’ve become their distributors, they realize they’re only losing money”, Chanroeun said.
While emphasizing that some acts could be considered scams, he also admitted it is somehow a marketing strategy, though “very unethical.”
Chanroeun stressed that some people borrow money from the bank to be product distributors, hoping to generate profits as influencers exhibit.
Education and attention needed from relevant ministries
The analyst urged people to check for more information and ask for advice before blindly believing or doing business with them.
He also highlighted the role of relevant authorities to monitor online and Facebook sales, making sure the products are safe to use and the business model is sustainable.
Viriya suggested that both the Ministry of Information and of Interior should really keep an eye on some online sellers and some celebrities who are broadcasting what she calls “pollution.”
In this regard, consumers themselves must participate in resisting their bad influences, she stated.
“We cannot easily eradicate them [the influencers], but we can provide education and knowledge to our people,” Viriya said.