OLX is today synonymous with Kenya’s online market place, no doubt, and this has led to many fraudsters pausing as buyers and/or sellers on the website, spoiling the name of a very well intended product.
There are a number of people who have fallen victims of these fraudsters and a friend of mine, let’s call her Daisy, is no exception. Daisy was looking for house in Nairobi and she needed this house very urgently. She tried to contact friends on phone and via Facebook and no one would be of help. The best a few could do was to give her contact numbers of agents in Nairobi but even the agents were not able to secure her the house of her desire at the rate she was willing to part with as rent.
Then in her desperation she desired to visit Real Estate in OLX. She browsed through and identified the house of her desire, picked the number of the person who posted the ad, and called…and that’s where the drama started.
The person who picked the called said that he is agent, and the real owner of the house wasn’t around at the time. The guy asked to meet up with the lady so that they could negotiate about the rent and other necessary payments. A day to the meeting date, the ‘agent’ called Daisy saying that he was not to be available for the meeting but Daisy should send him Kshs 3,000 as reservation. He then asked Daisy to talk to a certain lady whom he claimed was the owner of the house. The so called owner confirmed that indeed Daisy should sent the booking fee and in two weeks she could move into the house.
Okay Daisy did not part with the 3K, but she had to be kicked out from her house before she could secure another house…
Then there is a friend who wanted to buy Samsung Galaxy SII. Let’s call him Tom. Tom chose a Samsung Galaxy SII that was listed as selling for Kshs 25,000, brand new, at a time when the device was retailing at Kshs 55,000 in local shops. Apparently the seller was based in UK and was selling unlocked Galaxy SIIs at wholesale prices. The seller assured Tom that he won’t have to pay any extra taxes to the government as the price was inclusive of all taxes…
But for Tom to receive his Samsung Galaxy SII, he had to first send the required amount of money to the seller via Western Union thereafter the seller would send the phone. When Tom asked the seller how he could buy the seller’s trust, the seller advised Tom to send the money to a wrong name, withhold the password, but provide other details necessary for verifying that the money had been sent. A little research revealed that the details the seller wanted were enough to enable withdrawal from a Western Union agent if they could forge identification documents for the fake name Tom was to chose.
Tom too did not fall prey to the conman.
It is not only in OLX where fraudsters abound. Any online market place would attract as many as thousands upon thousands of fraudsters employing different tricks to defraud unsuspecting buyers or sellers. To this end, OLX always send an email to those who put up ads to beware of fraudsters who would pause as buyers. The sellers are specifically asked to consider:
- Taking the full payment at the time of the delivery. The delivery of the time being sold should be done at a safe location preferably a public venue.
- Not to accept cheques. Basically accept payment in modes that you trust.
- Verifying the buyer’s credentials if there is a request for a bulk order.
- Verifying the buyer’s phone number and other contact information. For example Sending a 10 bob to the number may help reveal their names if they are registered on M-PESA.
- Ensuring that the product being sold meets the features listed in the ad post to avoid misunderstandings with buyer.
- Not to share financial information except the one required for payment.
Since the seller is not the one to part with money, the risks on his/her part are not as huge as risks for those who want to buy. Buyers should therefore be more careful when considering to buy not only from OLX but from any other online market place. To safeguard buyers against fraudsters, it is important to consider:
- Buying goods locally. What is important is to inspect the goods and pay only when they have been delivered and satisfied with their condition. Meeting point should be a public venue that is trusted.
- Not to send money in advance of delivery or satisfaction that the goods are in good shape (first point re-emphasized).
- Asking for clear information on condition of the good and the price before meeting the seller.
- Using only trusted and familiar payment methods.
- Verifying seller’s telephone number e.g. sending 10 bob M-PESA to verify the names.
- In case of electronic goods, cars, and bikes, tests should be done to verify that the goods are functioning before purchase.
- When buying a car or land, whether on OLX or any other market place, ownership should be confirmed with the relevant authorities.
- Doing research on comparative product prices; and calculate depression to avoid paying more.
- Not not share your financial information for example bank details, pin, e.t.c
- And last but not least, always use the “Email Seller” to get in touch with the seller. This will help us notify you immediately if we are made aware of any fraudulent activities by the seller.
Importantly, if it happens that you fall a victim of fraudsters in OLX or elsewhere, please report the incident to the police. One can also email OLX at [email protected] Although OLX promises to do what it takes to root out all fraudsters, the platform does not actually mediate between buyers and sellers – OLX is simply a market where buyers and sellers meet. For further information on how to use OLX safely, you can visit this link.