How to Keep Yourself Completely Safe on Online Marketplaces ?| Saving yourself from the OLX Army Scam

An In-Depth Analysis of How an OLX Scam Works

Of all the scams that we have observed, the most damaging one by far has been the OLX Army Fraud scam.Trapping hundreds of victims over the past few years. 

In such cases we believe that to keep yourself safe from these scams, You need to be aware of exactly how they operate. Below is an in depth and complete look at the scam and how it takes place. Analysing information that we have received through over 60 different scam cases.

A thing to take note is that the entire setup and scam takes place across multiple days or several weeks in most cases. The scammer will try his hardest to gain your confidence and make you believe that they are a real person.

But in almost all cases, the scam starts off with…

The ADVERTISEMENT

The way that the scammers get victims is through ads, showing cars, bikes, mobile phones at extremely low prices. Below is an example of such an ad(Note: This ad was actually used by scammers.)

Fake OLX AD for a Car

They lure the victim through such ads that show an item at a very low price.

After this the scammer will try his hardest to take your conversation away from the OLX/Quikr app. The conversation below was seen between a victim and a scammer. You can see how the scammer immediately tells the victim to call him while also providing a whatsapp number(The number is censored for security purposes).

A text Conversation with the scammer

What should you do here ?

If you are looking to buy something through such marketplaces, be very careful when it comes to items that are priced at very low cost compared to all other ads. Ask for as much proof as you can and try to reverse google image search those pictures that the seller has listed. This will show you if the seller is actually real or he has copied real ads.

We also strongly recommend keeping your conversation on the OLX/Quikr app itself and not talking with any seller on whatsapp. Scammers immediately give you their whatsapp numbers because OLX/Quikr have automated systems that can detect scam accounts. This will cause their OLX accounts to be banned in 1 or 2 days. So if you keep your conversation to just those apps, you will automatically be safe.

The second part of the scam now starts, where the scammer will try to convince you that his fake identity is actually real.

The WhatsApp Conversation And Phone Calls


This is where the main scam occurs. If you start messaging the scammers on whatsapp they will have a set of stories that they use to trick victims. These stories and setups are listed below; all of them are sourced from real scammers that we have dealt with in the past:

 

Story 1 – I AM AN ARMY OFFICER GETTING TRANSFERRED TO KASHMIR(Or Somewhere Else)

  • They will tell you how they are an Army officer, who’s urgently getting transferred. And that is the reason why they have to sell the bike/car at such a low price. They assure you that that they will ship the bike/car through the “Army Transport Service” and it will reach you in a few days.

Story 2 – I AM AN ARMY SUPPLY WARDEN

  • In other cases we have seen the scammer tell the victim about how they handle supplies for the army and they can send you an item at a very low cost due to army exemptions.

Story 3 – I HANDLE CARGO COMING THROUGH THE AIRPORT

  • We have seen a few cases where the scammer convince victims that they work at airport customs, so they are able to get confiscated goods such as mobiles at a very cheap price. Or in some cases we have seen scammers pretending to be army officers stationed at airports.

After all of these stories and setup comes the most convincing and damaging part of the scam.

The scammers will now start sending forged documents and records to you. They do all of this to convince you that they are a real person.

These fake documents include everything from Aadhar Cards to Insurance records. In some cases we have seen the scammers send fake Army Transport Service papers to the victims, with the victims names and numbers photoshopped in.

Fake Army Transport Service Receipt

This was a fake receipt sent to one of the victims, where the scammer was pretending to be one Mr. Sahil Kumar.

In one case we even had a scammer send a facebook photo of a group of army officers, where the scammer was trying to convince us that he was one of the officers in the picture.

What should you do here ?

Even if you get such information, please be very sceptical. If you can try to get the seller to take a picture with the product where both the seller and product are clearly visible(In some cases specific to scammers selling mobiles they may have these photos as well).

 

If the seller sends you his Aadhar card or other documents where the name is mentioned. Please google the name on the card, as there are chances that you may find the name being used in other scams.

After gaining your confidence, the scammers will lead you to the final part of the scam

Transferring The Money

 

Rather than what most people believe the scammers in most cases won’t directly ask you for a very large amount of money. Instead they start off small, asking for small amounts of money  to clear customs or obtain licenses for the item to be delivered.

In a large number of cases they ask you for a refundable amount of around 15,000 Rupees for the delivery of the item. Convincing you that the amount will be refunded to you after the item is delivered.

Then a few days after that, the scammers will call you again from a different number pretending that your cargo is stuck at a state border and that you have to urgently pay some large amount of money or you will never get the item.

This is where the scammers start to get abusive, we have seen them verbally abuse the victims into transferring the money. And continually harass the victim into sending money for varying reasons.

The method of transaction varies from scammer to scammer, we have seen them use apps like GooglePay and PayTM. We have also seen them send over bank details for direct transfers of money.

What should you do here ?

If you think you or any of your friends or family has fallen into this trap, please block the number of the scammer immediately. 

We also recommend contacting your bank as soon as possible, in some cases if the complaint is filed within 24 hours of the scam taking place, the banks may be able to help. Also if you have paid the money through an app like Google Pay or Phone Pe, then you should raise an issue through the app.

Your can also contact OLX directly, through this email, safety@olx.in. Explaining your case in its entirety.

I would recommend registering a complaint with the cyber crime cell through https://www.cybercrime.gov.in/Webform/crmcondi.aspx .

If you still need help, you can contact us through the following link https://cyberforensics.miniorange.com/report-incident-cybercrime/