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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 online scams

A Sad Reality

Imagine this scenario:

After years of sitting at home looking for a job and not getting one, you finally decide that enough is enough and decide to start your own small business. You start looking on Facebook and other places for things to sell.

Eventually, you find something. A lady in Johannesburg is selling 10 pairs of shoes at R250 each. The shoes are so beautiful that you could easily sell them for double that price. The problem is that you don’t have the R2500 you need to buy the stock. But you believe so much in the product and your ability to sell it. So you decide to borrow the money from a friend or a relative.

You then contact the seller, exchange phone numbers, address details and bank account numbers. You send the money off to the seller and patiently wait for your stock to arrive. In the meantime, people are starting to place orders with you in anticipation of the the stock that is on its way.

One week passes. Then two. Then three. And the stock has not arrived. You contact the seller and get no response. You send messages. Still no response. Another few weeks go buy and as hard as it is, you are forced to accept that you have been the victim of a scam. Now, not only have you lost R2500 but you now owe that amount to the friend or relative you borrowed it from.

Stories like this one happen everyday. Every single day. The good news is that it does not have to be that way. Not with Paysho around.

Whether it is physical or digital goods, Paysho ensures that all buyers and sellers are protected equally and can transact with each other in complete peace of mind. Click here for more information on how Paysho works.

#BeSureWithPaysho