Beware of Crooks on Social Media
Technology has always been a sort of two edged sword, one which can help you to make life easy or one which you can end up cutting yourself with bloody concequences. My reason for writing this article is because of the amount of fraud that technology has allowed to flourish. My two points of concern are the popular Buy or Sell Namibia Facebook group and the FNB Ewallet services.
Used in the correct way, these two are the perfect examples of technologies making a positive different on everyday activities. One is a Namibian Facebook page called Buy or Sell Namibia with almost one hundred thousand members (and growing every day). This group allows members to post items they are selling or request for products and services, sort of like an open market. Its a good way to connect buyers and sellers and it works beautifully (most of the time).
The other is a banking service called E-Wallet provided by FNB. This wonderful service allows FNB bank account holders to send money to any person who has a cellphone number. Once they have received this money, they can then go any FNB ATM and withdraw their money just by pressing a few numbers on their mobile phone to get a temporary pin. All in all, a brilliant service.
So where is the problem? Well the truth is many people have been separated from their money illegally using a combination of this two services. Many people have been tricked, conned, robbed, defrauded etc of their hard earned cash by making use of the Buy or Sell group. For some of the crooks, they have made use of the FNB service to receive their money. But cant the law or the bank track them and catch them? The sad answer to that is “NO”.
Namibia does not require people to register when purchasing SIM cards. This means a crook can buy a new sim card (and even new phone for $100). They defraud someone and ask the person to send them money via e-wallet to their new number. When the money is sent, they withdraw it, dissapear and buy a new SIM card and do it all over again. In this case, crooks are using technology to defraud people of their mula.
What can be done?
I have personally bought products from the Buy or Sell group. However I have also been duped and what follows are just basic principles to follow to make sure you are not defrauded.
When selling items on Buy or Sell Namibia, despite all that technology has to offer, just prefer your money in cold hard cash. That way you are sure you really get your money. Of course it sounds backwards and all coming from an IT person, but cold hard cash beats any technology you can think of.
Never give over your products before you have the money. Do not believe SMS alerts for deposits made into your account. If you do receive a notification of money deposited into your account, confirm that it actually is money. For some reason beyond me, banks will send you notifications for cheque deposits made into your account. Standard Bank will not even tell you in the notification that is a cheque deposit. Why is this important? Well, a crook will make a cheque deposit into your account, you get a notification saying a deposit into your account had been made. But this is not money, its just a notification. And the crook comes all smiling to get his products which you handover as you think the money is in your account (it not).
Confirm that the money is in your account before handing over the products. If you really want to be paranoid, withdraw the money (yes i said it) or transfer it to another account. These two actions can confirm beyond doubt that the money really is in your account.
If the money was sent via e-wallet, and you get a message like this:
Well, all should be good. But just to make sure, just go and withdraw the money from an FNB ATM first before handing over your goods. Why am I being paranoid even with FNB ewallet messages? Well, in Zimbabwe someone figured a way to spoof and send confirmation messages of a popular mobile money service that side and then went on a spending spree. Its not far fetched to think it can happen here. So make sure your ewallet balance says you have money and if it does, well, just withdraw it and hold it in your hands first before handing over your goods.
When buying goods that you find on Buy or Sell, its prudent that you part with your money when you have confirmed or already received what you are buying. This means do not believe people that tell you to e-wallet the money quick quick before you get your things. Preferably, meet the seller, confirm the goods, hand over your money and be done with it. If you don’t want to carry cash to meet people, confirm the goods first, then do a transaction from your phone to send money to the seller. Its up to the seller to use my advice above to confirm that they have received their money.
Do not pay for goods you have not seen or confirmed. Do not send e-wallet/or deposit money into someone’s account without getting what you are buying first. Be stingy with your money. Its yours after all.
So there we are. I know there are many other tricks crooks are using, but these scenarios cover the simplest of solutions that anyone can follow to either make sure you are not separated from you money or goods.
Till later, happy buying and selling..