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online scams

The Latest Gumtree Scam

The original article was published here.

The popular classifieds platform Gumtree has seen an increase in scams during lockdown, as fraudsters benefit from doing deals over a distance.

“The pandemic has seen more South Africans sell their items in an attempt to raise additional cash, and as those listings increase, so do scam attempts. With lockdown, buyers and sellers are inclined to transact online only rather than face to face or without viewing an item in person and using electronic payment methods rather than cash. This does lead to more instances of fraud,” says Estelle Nagel of Gumtree.

Many South Africans are also desperate for cash in tough times. “(This) means that we are less risk averse than normal and more likely to take a gamble in terms of safety,” she adds.

However, while there are more scam attempts, criminals are not necessarily more successful. The ratio of successful transactions versus fraudulent transactions is unchanged and less than 0.5% of transactions are reported as fraudulent, according to Gumtree.

The platform is, however, concerned about the sharp rise in “buyer scams”.

A fraudster will send through a fake proof of payment to a seller – typically a SMS that looks like an electronic transfer has been made – and then send an Uber driver to collect the item. The fraudster will then abscond with the product.  

High-value items are often targeted – particularly electronics like gaming consoles, tablets, phones and laptops.

Of late, however, more scams with motorcycles have been reported.

The best defence against a buyer scam is to never hand over an item until the money has cleared in your account. Once money has been received, transfer it to a separate account to avoid the fraudster cancelling the transfer from their side.

Nagel recommends that you continue to communicate via the Gumtree platform, and not on Whatsapp.  “Even though times are tough, don’t compromise on personal or financial safety. There are millions of legitimate buyers for your items – take time, negotiate and wait for the right one.

During the coronavirus crisis, criminals have targeted South Africans with various new scams.

These scams include sending victims cellphone messages with links purporting to be reports about the virus in their area – instead the links click through to phishing sites, which steal the victim’s credentials, says  the South African Banking Risk Information Centre,

There has also been a surge of fake – but very realistic – emails offering products such as masks, or fake offerings of vaccines, leading to phishing websites, Sabric says.

One way to protect yourself is to use the Paysho escrow service when buying from or selling to a stranger. With Paysho, your money or goods are always 100% protected from all scams. Guaranteed. You can click here to learn more about how Paysho works.

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Buyer Protection Against Dishonest Contractors

A few months ago, Carte Blanche flighted an episode on which a Johannesburg pool contractor was accused of scamming several home owners out of huge amounts of money. The story goes that the contractor would collect a 50-70% deposit, arrive on site to dig a massive hole on the ground, leave and never be seen again…


Thousands of homeowners have lost hundreds of thousands of Rands to dishonest builders, carpenters, plumbers and other contractors who have talked a good game, collected a deposit and then disappeared into thin air. In some instances, the contractor does complete the job but does so in such a shoddy manner that sometimes another contractor has to be hired to fix the mess. 


Admittedly, most contractors do a good job. And when they mess up, the vast majority put it right at once. But there is a minority out there who will do a bad job and then find ways to avoid putting it right or simply disappear without completing the job after being paid a deposit or the full amount.


Thanks to Paysho, you no longer have to worry about people running off with your hard-earned money or delivering poor workmanship. Paysho does not only provide buyer protection for physical goods but for services as well. With Paysho, your money is always 100% safe. Guaranteed


And there is usually no obvious way to tell good the good guys from the bad guys because the bad ones don’t look or sound like bad ones.


#BeSureWithPaysho

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Time Is NOT Against You

One of the tricks that scammers use to rob you of your money is to put time pressure you. For starters, they will advertise something at such a good price that it will attract a lot of potential buyers. Anyone who shows interest in the item will be told that there are many other people interested in it and that the only way to secure it is by paying a deposit or even the full amount before they’ve even seen the product or confirmed the legitimacy of the sale.

This pressure does work because everyone likes a good deal. And the scammers know that. However, if you are in a hurry to secure the item, you are more likely to make a mistake or miss a red flag – this is exactly what scammers are hoping for.

Don’t rush into a sale right away. If something feels off about a seller, you are not under any obligation to buy and you shouldn’t be pressured into buying something before all the safety boxes have been firmly ticked.

Of course, one way to protect from any scams is by using an escrow service such as Paysho whenever you want to buy or sell from Facebook, Instagram or online classifieds. Paysho gives you peace of mind with every purchase you make by ensuring that your money is protected from any scam. Whether you are buying online or offline, you can be sure with Paysho.