• Eastern Cape Rising Sun

Online scammers growing: tips for shoppers

The Port Alfred Commercial Crime Unit is investigating several cases by complainants who incurred financial losses from online purchases.


In February a complainant responded to an advert of a Toyota Quantum vehicle for sale. All communication was done via WhatsApp between February 12 and 22. R165 000 was deposited into the account of the seller from a company in Kwa-Zulu Natal. The following day, the ‘seller’ disappeared.


Another complainant purchased a VW Polo from a company allegedly named SA Motors based in Gauteng. The victim deposited R7 200 into a Capitec bank account after they were promised the vehicle would be delivered. The vehicle was not delivered and the salesperson has cut off communication.


In another case, a complainant travelled to Gauteng to check on a company that allegedly sold her a vehicle and she discovered that the salesman was not an employee of the company. Another victim purchased hair weave from a company called Brazilian Hair. The victim paid R2 300 and was given a false tracking number from a delivery company.


“Advertisements on social media advertising items for sale must be viewed with caution. If it looks too good to be true, it usually is,” said police spokesperson, Captain Mali Govender.


According to the unit, scammers have become technologically advanced as they send messages that look like they come from trusted sources, such as banks and legitimate companies. The emails and messages also contain a telephone number and contact person to call.

The messages request that users click on a link in the email or SMS, which will direct users to a spoofed website to obtain, verify or update contact details or other sensitive financial information. Citizens are advised to never respond to emails or cell phone messages from banks requesting personal details.


“Do not share online identities, passwords and pins. Do not save your internet banking passwords on your desktop. Do not leave your computer unattended after you have entered your internet banking password. Avoid doing internet banking in public areas such as Internet cafés, or the library; any computer that can be accessed by people you do not know. Change your pins and passwords frequently. Put sensible transaction limits on your accounts,” said Govender.

Mostly importantly, Govender advised that people should never send money to individuals or companies that you have had no face to face interaction with.

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