South Africans see an increase in online shopping scams

12 Jan

So, while scrolling through your social media news feed you happen to ‘stumble’ across a coveted item on your must-have list – at a considerably discounted price. The discount persuades you and you take all the necessary steps to visit the supplier website, make the purchase and sit back to await it’s arrival…except the delivery will never take place.

The supplier hasn’t hit a hitch with a shoddy courier company, but rather doesn’t exist! You, yes YOU, have been scammed.

That sickening feeling you just experienced picturing yourself as the victim of an online shopping scam is the feeling hundreds, if not thousands of South Africans have recently faced and still will face in the weeks and months to come of 2021. Sadly, the truth of the matter is, South Africans are seeing a steady increase in online shopping scams.

markdown marvin takes south africans for a ride

One particular scamster company called “Markdown Marvin” has recently been in the spotlight for selling high-end televisions and Playstations at hugely discounted rates online. The products were never delivered and after several people suffered the same plight, attention was drawn to the issue through FNB. Markdown Marvin had been using FNB as their bank of choice to collect their illegal takings.

As the details of the scam came to light at FNB, the bank jumped into action to investigate the matter. Unfortunately, as with many similar frauds, the funds could not be returned to the victims as the money had already been removed from the account.

how to protect yourself against online shopping scams

So, how do you protect yourself from falling for a scam of this nature? Experts will tell you to ensure that you only purchase from well-known stores with a solid, existing reputation. However, this kind of advice is a tad unfair to new e-commerce businesses that are decent and legitimate.

There are a few other ways that you can safeguard yourself

  • Confirm with the banking institution that the account holder name is in fact the same as the business/supplier name. For instance, FNB offers the “Verify Owner” option on their online banking app.
  • Scrutinise the legitimacy of the online store in question. Does the store have a telephone number and address where you can reach someone for assistance? While not all stores that conceal their details are scams, those with transparency are a better option.
  • When making an online payment, the store should redirect you to confirm your transaction via your bank’s 3D secure page or via your bank’s mobile app. If the online store doesn’t do this, you should be wary and cancel the transaction.
  • Do online research on the company. Look for reviews and scam reports online. For instance, if you would like to see if Markdown Marvin is a legitimate store, you can Google “Markdown Marvin scam” or “reviews on Markdown Marvin” or even “is Markdown Marvin a scam?”. You will either come across a host of negative posts or positive ones – you can be the judge of them.
  • If you do make a payment and then start to worry that the online store is a scam, reverse the payment as soon as possible. Don’t give the scammer enough time to remove your money from their account.

Lastly, if you have been the victim of an online shopping scam, it is imperative that you report the scam as soon as possible. If you have the banking details of the scammer, contact their bank and advise them of the fraudulent activity too.

Start off 2021 on a more aware, alert and online shopping cautious note. Be safe online – shop safe! Be wise – plan regular backups of your data.

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