Don't get scammed online: Easy tips

2014-04-09 14:00
Money. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Money. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - As more people go online to conduct financial transactions, criminals are increasingly turning their attention to them.

One of the most common platforms to conduct a scam is an online classifieds site because it has a low barrier to entry and scammers can generally exploit human behaviour to steal money and goods.

"Wherever money changes hands there lies an opportunity for a scammer to take advantage, therefore caution is needed to avoid getting conned and becoming a statistic," said Bronwyn Johnson, head of Marketing, OLX South Africa.

Like most reputable classifieds sites, OLX monitors the ads on its platform to ensure that people can trade safely, but the system is not perfect.


Johnson gives these tips to ensure you don't get scammed by online classifieds traders:

• If the scammer gives you a physical address to collect the goods from, have a look on Google maps to see if the address actually exists.

• Call the bank when receiving a payment confirmation via SMS and ask them to confirm that the transaction is legitimate and that the money has cleared.

• Research via the internet to see if there are any fraudulent reports that have been reported. There are some very useful websites you can go to including:,; and

• Don't carry large sums of cash when going to meet a seller. If you are buying a big-ticket item, rather go with the seller to the bank and draw money or do an electronic fund transfer (EFT) once you have both agreed to the sale.

• Whether you are the buyer or the seller, always arrange to meet the other party in person, in a public place. Don't invite strangers into your home, when you know that they know that you are likely to be carrying a large amount of cash.

• If you are buying an item that carries some kind of ownership or authenticity certificate such as a car or a diamond ring, make sure that you get the certificate at the same time as the item itself. Never allow the seller to persuade you with promises of sending it to you later.

• Only make purchases on secure websites.

Johnson warned that you should not get sucked in to the image that criminals portray as they depend on victims to believe them.

"You won't always recognise scam artists by their strange accents or obvious disguises.  Scammers have become more sophisticated and convincing, which means that buyers and sellers need to be vigilant about the risks so that they can transact safely and successfully."

News24 is part of, a subsidiary of Media24, which is in the Naspers stable. OLX is a subsidiary of Naspers.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter
Read more on:    e-commerce  |  cybercrime

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