The festive season is around the corner which means many scammers are sharpening their efforts to try and catch or defraud unsuspecting buyers and sellers in the online market place who are using classifieds websites (like Junk Mail). Be Vigilant! Don’t get caught by scams this festive season.
Rather question everything when it comes to dealing with a potential buyer or seller. This may sound crazy to some of you now, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
You can fundamentally live by these seven rules to avoid scams this festive season.
- If something sounds too good to be true, it most probably is.
- Don’t be afraid to ask a buyer or seller questions; if they have nothing to hide no amount of questions should be weird to them.
- If you’re interested in buying something and the seller can’t show you the item; don’t pay them before you’ve inspected it.
- Don’t hand over an item to a potential buyer unless you are 100 percent sure that the funds they’ve deposited are available in your account and that you’re able to use it.
- Take note that some potential buyers ask money for petrol or airtime. Don’t give potential buyers/sellers money for anything else except for the item that interests you.
- Sell on your terms; don’t let a potential buyers dictate terms to you.
- Don’t meet a potential buyer or seller in a dodgy area. Insist on meeting at your local police station or at a public area like a shopping mall.
- When it comes to Company names used in a web based e-mail address, alarm bells should be going off (such as email@example.com, @hotmail.com, @gmail.com, @ymail.com and others).
Here are details of three major scams going round this festive season; be on the lookout for them and don’t get caught by fake online store scams, holiday accommodation scams and car scams below.
Fake Online Store Scams: Scammers know how much we love electronics and technology and they’re preying on potential buyers of gadgets. Scammers place adverts for electronic gadgets (which don’t exist). These adverts are usually for high end cell phones / smart phones (like the Apple iPhone 5), high end digital cameras / film cameras, tablet PCs (like the Apple iPad), laptops, LCD or Plasma TVs and various other electronic items that are normally priced too high for the average consumer out there.
Some of these scammers claim that they have an online store. They place adverts for electronic items in various regions on classifieds websites. The items will be priced ridiculously low. They’ll also claim to be in towns that are not close to the major cities in South Africa (like Upington, Kimberley, Welkom, etc). Some of them even set up fake websites to give off the vibe that they’re a genuine retailer for these goods. They use addresses that don’t exist in places that are not familiar to potential buyers. Each time a potential buyer calls them they’ll pretend to be in a different town. They’ll never be where the potential buyer is. These scammers will demand money for electronic items that a potential buyer has not inspected yet. To Avoid This: Don’t pay the scammer any money for an item that you haven’t inspected and don’t go through with this deal.
Holiday Accommodation Scams: Many of you reading this have looked for holiday accommodation over the last few months and some of you are quite desperate to find a place to relax. Scammers are aware of this. Take note: scammers are placing false classifieds for holiday accommodation and timeshare. They’ll request that you have to pay a deposit to secure the unit you’re looking for.
To avoid this: Ask the advertiser a lot of questions about the unit; ask them who the care taker of the building is, etc. Contact the resort / complex where the unit is situated and ask questions about the unit in request. Make sure that the unit is owned by the person who is advertising it. Be attentive. If you find a suspicious advertiser, don’t pay them money for a unit that isn’t even theirs.
Car Scams: This scam has been around for a while. Scammers know that some people are desperate to buy a vehicle at a bargain price. The scammer places an advert for a vehicle. The vehicle will be priced under market value to attract the maximum response from the advert. When a potential buyer contacts the scammer they will claim that they need a holding deposit to ensure that the vehicle is reserved for the potential buyer. They’ll ask potential buyers to do an EFT transfer into a bank account or to transfer money via services like Cash Send (which is available at supermarkets in SA).
Fact is: The cars being advertised don’t exist. Scammers like these tell EVERYONE that calls them that they need a holding deposit to secure the car for them. In the end they run off with loads of holding deposits from potential buyers. To avoid this: Don’t pay anyone money who asks for a holding deposit for a vehicle.
If you encounter any of these scams or other scams this festive season (or any other time whilst using Junk Mail) please report the advertiser / potential buyer to us. Include as much detail as possible when you report them to us. To report a scam, contact our Customer Care Department via firstname.lastname@example.org or telephonically on 012-3423840 x2295 (during office hours).
And Remember, Scammers don’t take Holiday. Be Smart! Be Savvy! Be Safe!
For more information about Scams, check out the Junk Mail Safety and Security page.