5 Questions to ask yourself when responding to a Junk Mail advert

QuestionsJunk Mail has implemented measures to reduce the amount of scam adverts to a minimum. We are aware that there are a lot of scams out there. We’re also constantly looking for ways to improve measures since our aim is to make our website 100% scam free.

We don’t want our users (and all classifieds users in South Africa) to become scam victims. For this reason we have posted and are posting regular scam warnings on our help site, we work closely with the SAPS to assist users that have been scammed and we’re featuring 5 questions to ask yourself when you’re responding to a Junk Mail advert today. Check them out below.

Is this deal to good to be true?

This is a very important question. So you find an advert reading “2010 Toyota Fortuner. Low mileage. Full House. Excellent condition. R45,000” This advert sound like an amazing bargain, right? But before you respond to an advert like this, you should really ask yourself this question.

If your answer to this question is “Yes”, be careful. Chances are that the advert is false or fraudulent. If you can only respond to the advert via e-mail (because there’s no phone number listed or the phone number listed does not work) alarm bells should also go off in your head.

Scammers love luring victims by only allowing them to respond only via e-mail. If the response you receive is accompanied by a story in broken English (about someone who is divorced or living in the UK or someone who is a photographer for National Geographic in some foreign country), it’s most likely a scam. If you are able to contact the user telephonically be vigilant and don’t pay them a holding deposit if they ask you for one.

Scammers like targeting car buyers, potential property tenants and people who are looking for holiday accommodation or timeshare the most, but you should ask yourself this question if you’re responding to ANY advert. Rather be safe than sorry.

Is this advertiser legit?

Before parting with your money, ask yourself this question. If your gut tells you that someone might be trying to defraud you out of your hard-earned money do a little research about them. Do a quick Google search for their phone number and e-mail address. If they provide you with a physical address, check if it actually exists on Google Maps.

If you are buying something on an online store that advertises on Junk Mail, check if they have a valid physical address and if the company actually exists. Be on the lookout for electronic items like iPhones / iPods / iPads that are being advertised for half their market value by fake online stores.

Is this advertiser making ridiculous requests?

So, you contact an advertiser. They call you back to arrange a meeting place or to confirm details about the item that they’re selling, but they run out of airtime. They ask you to top up their airtime for them or they ask you to deposit petrol money so they can drive to you (claiming that they’ll pay you back once you buy the item from them).

Don’t part with your hard earned cash for ridiculous requests like this. Ask to meet them in a public meeting place (like a police station). If they keep on dodging requests to view the item, they’re most likely attempt to defraud you – don’t fall for it.

Does this advertiser actually want me to view the advertised item?

So, you respond to an advert and the seller is claiming that the item is in good condition, but they’re avoiding answering questions directly about it or they are avoiding or dodging questions about viewing the item – they just want you to deposit the money and they’ll deliver it. This should raise an alarm with you.

Sellers are allowed to sell items on their terms, but in this day and age you are entitled to ask questions – remember that you’re the one who’s paying him / her with your hard-earned cash. Ideally you should not pay someone for an item that you have not seen or inspected.

If an advertiser claims that you can pick up the item from an address once you’ve paid them, check if the address actually exists before you do anything. Avoid driving into dodgy areas alone, take a friend with you if you decide to do so. And if you’re driving to a seller’s house to view the item, always let someone know where you are going before you do.

Does this advertiser want me to pay them via an unconventional method?

If your answer to this question is yes, it’s most likely a scam. Most legit advertisers want you to pay the cash after you’ve viewed an item. There are also other legit advertisers who will accept EFT as a valid payment once the money clears in their bank account. Both of these methods are conventional when using classifieds.

Methods that are not conventional are transfers via PayPal, Western Union or to some international bank account (Barclays, Bank of America, City Bank and others. Payments like these are not easily traceable, that’s why scammers use them.

Scammers also love using letterheads from financial institutions and posting them from web based e-mail addresses. If you get an e-mail from one of them, check where the e-mail is from. 99% of the time they will be from an account registered on Hotmail, Gmail or another web based e-mail service.

There you have it 5 Questions to ask yourself when responding to a Junk Mail advert. If you have any other tips for classifieds users, feel free to comment on this article. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

If you encounter ANY fraudulent or suspicious activity whilst using Junk Mail, please report it to our Customer Care department via ccc@junkmail.co.za or telephonically on 012-3423840 x2295 (during office hours).

Spread the word about these questions. Share this article with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. Remember: Sharing is Caring.

Watch this space for regular updates in the Safety and Security category on the Junk Mail Blog.

Henno Kruger

Digital Marketing Campaign Coordinator at Junk Mail Publishing.

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18 Responses

  1. Peter says:

    Another unconventional payment method is a request to use a system where the payment is made to a cell phone number using a money transfer system offered by the supermarket retailers like, Spar, PnP, Checkers, etc.

  2. breyten says:

    Hi Henno 🙂 Hope you are well. Though I would point out a spelling error… search for ” If your answer to this question is yet, it’s most likely a scam.” should be “yes”… no?

  3. I like what you guys are usually up too. Such clever work and
    reporting! Keep up the very good works guys I’ve added you guys
    to blogroll.

  4. Gonda says:

    I found this home advertised here

    It looked too good to be true so I checked on property 24 and there it is advertised at double the rental with the estate agents details.

    Plus, the one on junk mail says it is furnished.

    Looks a bit dodgy so thought to just mention it here.

  5. lionel says:

    check out the add motorhome for 3ok he is a regular scammer

  6. lionel says:

    watch out for them wanting u to transfer cash at a spar etc. they caught me with 2k last week. re motor spares .living in colesberg. the cops are after them got there photos withdrawing my cash at a atm ,somewhere in jhb.

  7. LIONEL says:


  8. LIONEL says:

    watch out for them wanting u to transfer cash at a spar etc. they caught me with 2k last week. re motor spares .living in colesberg. the cops are after them got there photos withdrawing my cash at a atm ,somewhere in jhb.[ ORIBI]

  9. Andrer says:

    I found a Nigerian scammer that created a false google street address in alexandra.

  10. Tenor says:

    Hi guyz, when buying a vehicle, ask for registration number cause most times their vehicles dont show the reg number. If they cant provide you with it then you should know its a scam or else they will provide with some funny reg number. check if its a valid one. lets all be vigilate. Thanks

  11. Nicole says:

    Hi sorry to report I have been scammed! Desperation!!! The guy’s name is” Paul Watson” from Eshowe the so called bussiness name is KIMO AUTO PARTS cell no. 0826411225 claims his bussiness address is at 16 William street Eshowe. No such address and no industrial park as on his invoice emailed to me. PLEASE BE AWARE OF THIS SCAM!! I lost R3500 to this fraudster. He not a white guy he is actually an INDIAN GUY!

  12. Thami says:

    The same guy Paul Watson no goes by the name of SGK Auto he says he is from Newcastle, I was just about to transfer R14 000 for two engines that he promised to sell then I checked on the net and saw lot of complaints about him. He is a FRAUDSTER. PLEASE WATCH OUT.

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