How to shop safely on an online Social marketplace
With Africa experiencing an e-Commerce revolution, more and more African consumers are looking for ways to protect themselves against scammers. Most of the local classified players have the standard safety measures in place: the possibility to report a scam or rate a user; safety tips visible for all visitors, etc. But reality shows that such measures are far from enough.
Therefore, African consumers need to adopt some key habits in order to avoid fraudsters
- Keep things local.Meet the seller in person, check the item and make sure you are satisfied with it before you make a payment.
- Do not pay in advance, not even for delivery.Buyers – don’t make any payments before receiving an item. Sellers – don’t send an item before receiving payment. Exchange item and payment at the same time.
- Always meet in a safe, public location. Before meeting, try to collect as much information as possible about the individual you are going to meet.
- Never give out financial information. This includes bank account details, eBay/PayPal information, and any other information that could be misused.
- Buy and sell only on the most trusted marketplaces with robust security measures. Avoid those that have no content monitoring or clearly outlined security measures.
- Use common sense.If the deal looks too good to be true – it is most likely a scam. Nobody sells new cars for half the price or new iPhones for 200 Nairas.
According to Cristobal Alonso, CEO of MOBOfree.com, the company has a special automated algorithm identifying scam behavior. “Our priority is to eliminate scam BEFORE it becomes visible to buyers; before someone gets scammed, before they lose money or report suspicious behavior. At MOBOfree, we don’t just play the “you inform us, we react” game. Such a basic security measure as the possibility to report ads is not enough to guarantee the security of the African consumer,” he said.
Study shows 90% of scammers have the same specific behaviour patterns on different platforms and in many cases online market owners can tell a person is going to carry out some form of illegal activity even before seeing the content of his or her classifieds.
MOBOfree.com being a case of study, it is safe to put up a quality control team which reviews every single advert manually before launching it live. “I can confirm that up to 30% of the classifieds submitted to MOBOfree are removed during quality check so they never become visible to our visitors. There is a real risk on platforms that do not implement such advanced security measures,” says Mr. Alonso.
In addition to that, MOBOfree has an internal rating system allowing buyers to rate sellers and report suspicious/illegal activities as well as a phone safety hotline so that any issues can be reported immediately. According to the online portal, car classifieds category is extremely popular among fraudsters in Nigeria, generating approximately 3 times more fraudulent classifieds in comparison to other categories.
MOBOfree recently launched the MOBOguard program, allowing their users to search for scammers, report them, and get a reward for it.