As with everything these days, buying and selling of goods and services has moved online. Anything can be bought online, from sneakers and pizzas to cars and gadgets, online purchasing is the rave around the world, but like most things, it comes with its challenges and criminals will try to exploit it for their nefarious aims. Non-delivery scams are a way that fraudsters have been able to fleece unsuspecting online shoppers. A non-delivery scam occurs when a fraudster collects payment on the promise of delivering goods but absconds and never delivers. The major conduits that criminals use are E-commerce websites, social media, online marketplaces and drop shipping.
E-commerce non-delivery scam
This occurs when fraudsters set up fake e-commerce websites. These websites have fake listings for real products below the market value. This low price attracts online shoppers to make orders. The shoppers are charged but the product is not delivered. Here are tips to avoiding this type of non-delivery scam.
- Only patronize recognized e-commerce stores with verifiable track records.
- Look for buyer and seller reviews, an absence of which shows that you are dealing with a scam
- Research the merchant, make sure they are resident at their physical address.
- Do not be swayed by advertising with promotional offers of low pricing or limited time.
- Look out for websites displaying verification from government agencies. Since such verifications do not exist, a website displaying this is a scam.
- Look out for requests to take the conversation offline or to make a transfer instead or using the website payment channel.
Social Media non-delivery scam
In social media non-delivery scams, the fraudster makes use of a social media account, page, group, or marketplace to defraud the victim. This has become quite rampant as social media has become a tool to promote businesses and a lot of people have used it to purchase goods directly from a seller without any intermediary. For those who choose to go this route to purchase goods, take note of the points below to avoid non delivery scams.
- Ask friends and family for recommendations. The seller must be someone who they have personally done business with.
- Thoroughly research the seller’s profile. Check when the account or page was created. If it is recent then be wary. Check activities and engagements. Low frequency of posts and posts about events from a location different from what is stated on their profile are warning signs. Use reverse image search to see if pictures on the profile turn up elsewhere on the internet. Sparse profile bio and few contacts are also red flags.
- Run a search using the profile name. This should be done using both a search engine and the search feature on social media app. Type the account name followed by words like “scam” “fraud” etc.
- Use a known third party to facilitate the trade. Popular admins who are well known and have a good reputation can be used. Money would be first transferred to them, and they would hold it in trust till you examine the goods, and when everything checks out, they would then transfer it to the seller. They usually demand a small fee for their services.
Online Marketplace non-delivery scam
Online Marketplaces provide buyers and sellers with an avenue to meet and exchange goods and services. An example of this would be Jiji. Such platforms also have scammers posing as sellers, here are the pointers to keep in mind to avoid getting scammed.
- No matter the circumstance, never make payment before an item is delivered, and make sure to check that it is functioning as agreed.
- Inspect the seller’s profile. Chech how old the profile is. New profiles are a red flag.
- Type the seller’s number on a search engine, do not proceed if you find negative reports or associations of any kind.
- Meet the seller in a public place for pickup, inspection, and payment.
- Always ask for a receipt and a traceable address.
Dropshipping non-delivery scams
Dropshipping is a commercial activity in which a merchant sells goods without having to keep physical stock. They act like middlemen between the manufacturers and final buyers. Dropshipping has grown in popularity due to the ease of setting up online stores using such tools as Shopify and WooCommerce. This popularity has attracted scammers, who are constantly looking for ways to swindle newbies. They do this by pretending to be manufacturers or their distributors, promising goods at low prices. But once payment is made to them, they disappear. Below are tips to prevent you from being a victim.
- Watch out for low prices. While new manufacturers and their distributors might offer low prices to sideline established brands, the presence of low prices is often an indication of a scam. As the saying goes, if it is too good to be true, it is.
- Verify Business Details. Ask for company or business license number, phone number and address then cross-check these details against a database of registered companies for that country.
- If it is an e-commerce marketplace like AliExpress, only patronize distributors with excellent feedback scores while also considering how long they have been in business.
- Ask for pictures of environment, product, inventory and more, then request an unscheduled video meeting to verify same.
In conclusion, don’t feel pressured by limited time offers and special prices. Watch out for requests to pay additional fees, as this could be what the fraudster is after, and do not make payment if you feel or think anything is wrong.
- Badmus Anuoluwapo
- Izuchukwu Paschal Ugwu
- Okanlawon Teslimat Adedamola