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Buying and Selling Online – Scams Alert

05/03/2015 0 Comments
Q: What precautions should be taken when posting an item for sale on the internet?

Advice: Post only item details without unique identifiers such as registration number (vehicles).

Provide a name and contact number only and use a number that can easily be switched off (avoid landlines, unless it’s a generic switchboard number)

Don’t provide your office or home address in the advertisement.

Once contacted by a potential customer who wishes to view the product, make sure that:

  • You don’t travel to them with the product
  • The buyer comes to a predetermined point
  • Organise the for sale items in a place that limits the buyer’s movement on your property.
  • If you live in a flat then maybe engage them in the building lobby
  • If you live in a house then restrict them to the courtyard area
  • If you invite them to the office then manage the transaction in the reception area Make sure that the buyer comes at a time of your convenience only. This is important to ensure that you have someone around to keep an eye on the customer.
  • Keep all support items that may be required to finalise the deal on hand. Don’t leave the customer alone at any time to go find items they may require.

Some common scams you need to watch out for while online and offline


Rationale: Always be wary of inviting a stranger to your property but more importantly don’t go to them either. Share the minimum contact details and easily discardable ones as it’s not uncommon to hear of people being harassed by strangers.

Criminals are on the prowl for victims; recently a gang was busted that staked out potential victims posing as clients. The group even had a female member who was used to gain access to homes as the sellers lowered their guard in the presence of a woman.

Q: How do you ensure your payment is secured when delivering items from online customers?

Advice: Larger home delivery goods companies have instituted several measures that can easily be adopted by smaller businesses.

  • Initiate a two step process in payments and delivery
  • First send someone to collect the cash
  • Once cash is secured, send someone to deliver the items
  • Once cash is secured, send someone to deliver the items

There are several start-ups that do the delivery on your behalf for a fee. For first timers seeking to do online sales with cash on delivery this would be an ideal way to start up.

Going with firms that specialise in delivery is administratively feasible, at the same time they have agents who know the addresses and will guide you on ‘No Go’ areas too.Rationale: Securing your items and cash is vital. There have been several occasions where people have placed orders online and when the delivery agent shows up they take the product and refuse to pay.


Q: What are some of the known online scams and how to stay safe?

A common occurrence in recent years is for hackers to pose as your friend and email you asking you to send them some money as they are travelling and they’ve been robbed.

Advice: What do you do when you receive such and email or Facebook request?

Foremost is to verify that the person is actually who they say they are.

  • Call the person: in many instances when you call you realise they are ok and that it is a hoax
  • If they don’t answer, call someone who you are certain will know where they would be (family, a colleague, etc)
  • If you can establish telephonic contact then ask them something that only that person would know about and that is not easily available information about you (e.g. where was the first time you met).
  • Don’t transfer any funds until you establish that they are indeed who they say they are.

Another online scam is for a hacker to contact you on Facebook chat or Gmail chat from a friend’s account who is abroad and ask you to send a third party some funds via EasyLoad as there was an immediate need and they would reimburse you in due course.

Advice: In this instance, too, it’s important to actually verify that they are who they say they are. Remember when you are attempting to verify their authenticity don’t ask them questions based on the information they can view on facebook. If they have reached out to you they already know the information you have posted on that forum.

A scam that occurs often during natural disasters or major human interest events is that people pose as representatives of charities or on behalf of people who may be working on donations and have publicised their events / engagements on Facebook or other social media.

Advice: Once again it’s important to determine the identity of the person who is at your door to collect the funds or is asking for online transfers. Is he actually who he says he is and does he actually represents the organisation?

Call the organiser to confirm that the person who has come to collect the funds is genuine.

If not, ensure that the organiser sends you the contact details ahead of time with the CNIC number of the individual, that you can verify when they present themselves.

Rationale: In a recent donation campaign on facebook names of the organisers and their banking details were shared. The scam artists went to some folks who had said they were willing to donate posing as their representatives.

The person had bank deposit slips filled out with the organiser’s details and said he was heading straight to the bank to deposit the funds handed over by the donor. The donor did not suspect anything as they were told to expect someone. The impostor insisted on a Cash Cheque as there was a time crunch in assembling the relief items.

As soon as they got the cheque they went to the bank, withdrew the cash and vanished; the donor only realised the mistake when they were called by the organisers informing them that they were sending someone over to collect the funds.

Identity theft is not uncommon. Be wary of someone asking you for funds online when it would be just as easy for them to call you. Remember, if it’s embarrassing for them to ask you in person via a call or face to face engagement then it should be no less embarrassing to ask for help online.

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