Statistics from a consumer goods and services ombud annual report highlight the extent to which consumers are being defrauded by online operators.
With the increase in the adoption of e-commerce during the Covid-19 lockdown, many fraudsters have seen an opportunity to trap new victims through online retail.
While some were service issues related to legitimate providers, the vast majority were for rogue operators who were running a scam.
According to ombud Magauta Mphahlele, the main products involved were clothing, electronics and hair extensions offered through platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.
Mphahlele explains that as these are rogue operations – they are not registered with the consumer goods and services ombud and therefore it is not possible to investigate them. However, the consumer ombud has issued warnings regarding operators including Mr Shopper, Wiegenkind Boutique, Ana Eleven Brand and Liepies Online.
One way to deal with these entities is for the banks to be more proactive in freezing accounts.
If the regulators and industry bodies work together and share their complaints with the banks, hopefully more could be done to reduce fraud and even possibly retrieve some of the money taken in these scams.
READ: Beware the scamsters are out in full force
If you are a victim of an e-commerce scam, your first step should be to inform your bank. You then need to give a statement to the police and obtain a case number to provide to your bank. You should also inform the relevant industry body or regulator. It is only when victims report these cases that authorities can start working together to at least try to shut them down. – Maya Fisher-French
WHERE TO REPORT
. Investment scams:Financial Sector Conduct Authority at fsca.co.za
. Loan scams:National Credit Regulator at ncr.org.za
. Retail scams:Consumer goods and services ombud at cgso.org.za
. Retail scams:National Consumer Commission at thencc.gov.za