Over the past couple of years, fraudsters have successfully defrauded customers on sites like OLX, Quikr, Telegram etc. by listing goods at very attractive prices or requesting money instead of making payments for a purchase.
How does the fraud work?
Typically fraud works in one of two ways:
Fraudsters act as sellers – Fraudsters initially sign up as sellers and gain trust of the buyers by posing associations with trustworthy professions like Armed Forces Personnel, CISF, etc and posting fake or stolen identity cards and documents. Fraudsters, in such scenario share Aadhaar and other identification details of people they are impersonating and later ask for an advance in exchange for the listed goods. On some of the platforms like Telegram, FB, Instagram etc. fraudsters dupe buyers by posting extremely attractive prices on branded goods, claiming that they have been result of auctions of customs or some other fake reason like that.
Sometimes they would also share fake receipts of the courier companies indicating the product has been shipped. Convinced by the documents and lured in by the prices, buyers often are duped to pay advance to the fraudsters using IMPS, UPI, Wallet or link-based payments.
Fraudsters act as buyers – In this case they target sellers by saying that they have raised the request to seller, approval of which would result in deposit of money in seller’s account. These requests are just collect requests in UPI. In such scenarios, sellers assume they are receiving payment and approve collect request, resulting in deduction from their account.
What can you do to protect yourself?
- Beware of fake offers, products or services. If a deal seems too good to be true it is often. DO NOT fall for 5000 Rs. iPhone or a 15000 Rs. bike.
- Transfer the money to the seller only when the goods have been delivered to you. Platforms like OLX, Quikr have their own recommended payment methods in which they act as an intermediary between buyers and sellers.
- DO NOT approve unsolicited collect requests. UPI Collect Requests are used to collect money by others from you, so approving them would result in you making a payment to them.