How to avoid scams on classified websites is one of the greatest challenges online buyers and seller face nowadays. It is almost impossible to believe that one could be scammed while doing business on a classified website.
Classified websites serve as a hunting ground for internet scammers to get their victims. Unknown to many users of classified websites, there are scammers hiding in every section of the websites, appearing to look like a genuine and serious dealer.
In this post, you will get a detailed guide on how to avoid scams on classified websites.
Definition Of Scam On Classified Websites
The best and most appropriate definition of scam on classified websites is said to be the intention, an act or a proposed plan to trick online sellers and buyers with the belief that they are dealing with a legitimate contact but actually, victims are duped out of their money or products listed.
On every classified ads website, you will find advertisements placed at different sections of the website. However, not every advert on the site is a genuine one; some advertisements are being manipulated by scammers who are out to rob unsuspecting people of their money.
History Of Scam On Classified Websites
There is no traceable history or origin of scam on classified websites. However, the history of scams can be traced to the late 18th century when some businessmen in Spain were contacted by an individual who was trying to smuggle a prisoner, who hails from a wealthy family out of a Spanish prison.
In exchange for the assistance, the scammer promised to share the money with the victim in exchange for a little amount of money which would be used to bribe the prison guards.
Types Of Scam On Classified Websites
Advance fee fraud
Lottery, sweepstakes and competition scams
Counterfeit Seller Email
Advanced-Fee Fraud (419 Letter)
Credit Card Scam
Counterfeit Check Scam
Fake Vehicle Scam
Fake Puppy Scam
Most Common Types Of Scam On Classified Websites
- Online shopping scams
- Classified and auction scams
- Banking cards fraud
- Online account scams
- Advance fee fraud
- Small business scams
Why People Fall For Scam On Classified Websites
There are so many reasons why people fall for scams on classified websites. They are as follows;
- Firstly, it be noted that people fall for scams on classified websites are not dummies but they might have been brainwashed into thinking that they are in negotiations with a reliable dealer.
- People fall for scams on classified websites when the deal is too hard to resist. Most deals on classified websites are too hard to turn down and when this happens, the seller or the buyer would not want to miss out on what looked to him like a big opportunity.
- For instance, a buyer who wants to get a laptop might find one in a classified website for (N10,000/$28), it is almost impossible to find a quality laptop for that price in Nigeria. This type of deal looks tempting and the buyer would be willing to pay because the price looks cheap and affordable.
- People also fall for scams on classified websites when there is no escrow service provided by the classified website. Most classified websites are particularly interested in how they can get advertisers and merchants hooked on their website.
- They aren’t really worried about how they can mitigate the chances of a user getting scammed on the website. Scamming would be the order of the day when there is no machinery in place to checkmate the activities of buyers and sellers on a classified website.
- One of the most common reasons why people easily fall for scams on classified websites is due to impatience. Many sellers are quick to sell their wares and they end up losing their goods to scammers who cloak themselves to look like buyers.
- An insecure website creates an avenue for users to get scammed. A site without an SSL certificate can be hacked and this can expose users’ information. Most times, the credit/debit card information gets in the hands of these hackers who can have access to the funds in the account.
Identification Of Fraudulent Buyers On Classified Websites
There are various ways to identify fraudulent buyers on classified websites. Some of the tips you can use to know fraudulent buyers are;
- One common way to identify a fraudulent buyer is to be conscious of any suspicious attitude of the buyer. If the buyer is not serious about purchasing the product, he could be labeled as a scammer.
- Most fraudulent buyers request prices of products which are different from the product listed by a particular seller and this may result from carry-over fraudulent activities from the seller of another listed product. When this happens, you should be more conscious of the buyer because his move is suspicious.
- As a seller, you should be suspicious and aware of buyers who want you to deliver your product by courier service and get paid after delivery. Products should be delivered after the cash has been paid or when there is cash ready for the product.
- Beware of buyers who request to have a product delivered to them at night only. Most buyers would give excuses that they are busy in the office or work and that they may not be available to inspect a product. You are to be cautious of these types of buyer because most of these types of transactions end in tragedy.
- The buyer sends you a cheque which is more than the agreed price, and then, he or she asks for a refund of the overpaid amount. When you do that, their cheque will eventually bounce and you will lose your money.
- A potential buyer who claims to be based overseas or in another country is interested in buying your product despite the fact that such an item is a common item in their home country (e.g. a lawn mower, couch, bike or a car). Often times, the shipping cost of such an item outweighs the actual cost of the item itself.
- The potential buyer is willing to purchase your product but he doesn’t want to view it in person. It is very suspicious when a buyer demands to see a product by proxy even if the product is an expensive one. Such a buyer could be trying to woo you into a trap that you may not overcome if you should fall for it.
Identification Of Fraudulent Sellers On Classified Websites
- You receive a fake email slip of item shipment and seller advise you to make payment or shipment will be canceled
- The Seller gives excuses he/she has emergency issues to resolve and thereby request you to make payment through a fake escrow website for safety of item to be shipped over to you.
- Seller request you to make commitment deposit fee so as to preserve item to avoid been bought/rented by other interested buyer, seller will request you to make deposit fee as low as 10% before item can be shipped over to you in agreement you make balance after receiving item (most greedy buyer or apartment seeker fall for this trick).
- Price of the item listed is to low when compared to the actual market value of the item on the same website or on other websites with the same product.
What To Do Next If Suspicious Of Scamming Activites On A Classified Website
- You are to avoid a seller or buyer if you are suspicious of the legitimacy of such a person. A merchant could produce documents that show that his business is registered with the law, he could as well produce a document of accreditation and endorsement, but you should not be carried away by the antics of scammers.
- Scammers are naturally cunning and they are willing to do anything to make sure that they get their target. Alternatively, you can ditch a classified website for another classified website when you notice signs on fraudulent activities on their platform.
Safety Precaution To Avoid Scam On Classified Websites
- Always request the buyer or seller to produce a means of identification. A drivers license, National I.D card, Permanent Voters Card (PVC) will enable you to inspect the dealer and know if he or she can be trusted.
- Buyers should request an invoice or a receipt to show that they have paid for a good or product. If you should notice any fishy activity of the seller, you can politely ask the seller to produce a means of ownership to know if such a product is stolen or not.
- Most businessmen do not accept returns, so you must ensure that you check the product well to know if it is in good condition or not.
- Most buyers prefer to make cashless payments for business transactions. This is quite good, but traders should also know that scammers prefer this payment method to any other medium of payment. In some cases, buyers who use PayPal can charge-back the payment and the money which was previously sent gets back into their account.
- As a seller who prefers cash as his only payment method, do not fail to inform the buyer that cash is your preferred payment method. If the buyer has no physical cash, you can request to follow him to the nearest ATM or a mobile money agent to get your funds. Also, endeavor to check the cash if it is original or counterfeit.
- Avoid buyers who ask you for help to make payment to a third party or an agent for upfront costs such as transportation or insurance. These types of people may promise you reimbursement for these additional costs. If you should send the money, you may not receive it back because the buyer will make excuses to you before dashing away with your money.
What To Do Next If Scammed On Classified Websites
- There’s nothing much to do when you discover that you have been scammed or duped on a classified website. If you have enough evidence to track the scammer, you could use it to bring the scammers to book.
- Contact the classified website and let them know the scammer’s profile name or username along with any other details which may help in stopping other people on the platform from being scammed.
- If you do not have concrete evidence and when you discover that the scammer has vanished with your money, you can also report the website to the legal authorities such as the police and give them the details of how you were scammed on the classified website. Remember to include details such as a screenshot, an email message, call recorder (if any).
- Also, you are recommended to make an alarm on your social media handles (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, etc) and let people know that you were scammed. You can also publish a report on a newspaper, journal, magazine, and blog to make people aware of the scam activities on the classified website. This will prevent more people from being scammed on the classified website.
Conclusion On How To Avoid Scams On Classified Website
The initial purpose for the creation of classified websites was to help people to promote their goods and services at a free or cheap cost but this privilege had been abused by people who are not interested in buying or selling anything but are in for fraud.
Whether you are a buyer or seller, you should be conscious of your activities on a classified website platform. You will bear the consequences for whatever mistake or error that you make, the owner of the website will not claim responsibility for any loss.
Lastly, if you have been scammed before, do not attempt to repay others by scamming them.
(For more information and education on classified websites, READ ALSO: BUYING AND SELLING ON CLASSIFIED WEBSITES IN NIGERIA
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