Classified ads are one of the prominent sources for different kind of scammers to find potential victims. Scammers exist as both buyers and sellers on such platform. They can go to various lengths, to hide their true identity. Most of the times they impersonate Indian Army personnel So that they can fool unsuspecting victims.
We need to be aware of both of these variations of fraudsters.
1. Scammers acting as Sellers
Scammers sign up as sellers on OLX and other classified ads sites. They gain trust by reusing content of actual sellers, only changing the listed price, to ridiculously low levels.
They aim to lure potential victims with these prices.They also have a tendency of sharing fake receipts of courier companies, indicating that the product has been shipped.
Once a victim is found, the scammers trick the victim into disclosing private information. Or in most cases, the scammers ask for a pre-payment to be made. Finding multitudes of excuses to not show you the item/property/vehicle you want to buy.
These ads can be for anything such as used cars, bikes etc. These ads may include pictures and other details – often copied from genuine buyers.
The most occurring cases nowadays are related to Army Personnel.
In this case, Scammers impersonate Army Personnel and steal the money from the Victims by gaining their trust and making them pay the amount in advance. People are susceptible for this fraud as they generally do not question the Integrity or authenticity of someone who says he is from the Army. Scammers often produce fake documents to prove their identity.
How does the Scam happen ?
Scammer puts an advertisement for a product (Mobile Phone, Car, Bike etc.) for a very low price (eg. Mobile that costs Rs. 20K would be advertised for Rs. 12K) and lucrative description such as used for one week only or not used at all.
Victim contacted the scammer before the profile was detected as suspicious by OLX
A potential victim sees the advertisement and considers it a good as well as cheap deal and contacts the scammer for further exchange of goods and money.
After negotiating a little, the scammer agrees to a lesser amount (even with a difference of Rs. 2 to 3K). At the same time, the scammer tells the buyer why he is selling the product, it includes reasons such as he is unable to use it when on duty in the Army and other similar things.
Scammer provides the forged identity documents related to the army to the buyer for verification along with the product Images (which are fake). People do not hesitate finalizing the deal by just looking at the images of the product and not checking it personally
Example Identification documents provided by Scamemers
(both the images are forged documents)
Scammer tells the buyer that he does not reside in the same city as the buyer, and that he would have to send the product via courier service.
Scammer further tells the buyer that he would need to pay some amount in advance in order to ship the product, Scammer also provides forged courier details to the buyer which includes receipts and other documents.
Forgedreceipt for Courier service which will be shipping the product.
Victim puts his trust into the scammer because of his supposedly Army background. Scammers take advantage of this vulnerability. Scammer then requests for a money transfer and shares his bank account details (which mostly is with Paytm Payments Bank) or shares UPI ID.
Victim sends the money to mentioned accounts, after this Scammer may stop responding to Victim or keep asking more money claiming it to be Border entry charges, Toll charges, Service charges etc. until victim realises he is being fraud.
Scammers might be just one person or an organized group of a couple more persons. They may share different account details each time or the same one. If scammers find out that the victim is instantly paying the money, they start dominating and pressuring him for more.
2. Scammers acting as Buyers
Protecting Yourself from these Scammers
1. Many fraudsters impersonate an official authority such as army personnel. They do this to lend credibility to their scams.
2. While posing as buyers, their items are very very under priced, more than any other on the market.
3. While posing as sellers, the fraudsters accept any price that you set on them. Without haggling in most cases.
4. They persist on buying/selling the item without checking it in person. Because they want to hide their tricks.
Miscellaneous Tips To Secure Yourself
Always refer business profiles on official website.
Do not entertain calls with high offers requesting online payment.
NEVER Pay for the products advertised on OLX in advance.
Always insist meeting the Seller or Buyer in person
Companies never asks for the below on call
1. Credit / Debit card details.
2. OTP (One Time Password).
3. Bank Account Details.
4. Net banking Credentials.
5. UPI Id / PIN.