Buying or selling involves a certain amount of risk, even more so when the transaction takes place online.
Gumtree SA recently listed the most common online scams, which included fraudulent rentals and “too good to be true” goods. Less wellknown tactics include the “company representative scheme” in which someone pretends to represent a reputable company and sends out e-mails with details about goods, most commonly cars, that are for sale. Once the target makes a deposit, the deal disappears.
This is a variation of the “false payment” method when a cheque to an honest seller is cancelled once the scamming buyer collects the goods.
There is also many dodgy respondents to classified ads. Their aim is to gather personal information for identity theft and credit card fraud, among other criminal activities. Personal information is easily gathered in the trusted online space of classified ads sites.
The SecondHand Goods Act regulates the trade of secondhand goods by recording the transaction. It requires traders to be registered as dealers with the South African Police Service and that dealers keep a detailed log of “the prescribed particulars regarding every acquisition or disposal of secondhand goods”.
These details include the full names and contact details of the person, the manner in which this information was verified and the person’s identity number.
The trading of any goods for a profit is considered secondhand goods dealing, so the act extends beyond popular dealers such as Cash Crusaders to remote dealers who operate from home.
The act protects all parties involved by insisting on identity verification, but the logistics of this process pose the greatest challenge as identity protection appears to be less of a social concern than it ought to be in SA at present.
By Mark Chirnside for BDLive