OLX is one of the biggest marketplaces in the country, where buying and selling of goods takes place. It is a company that allows folks to post free online ads to sell services and goods of all kinds—from electronics and furniture to bikes and cars
As money is involved, it’s a great place for scammers to find their prey. Online scams on this website are of a totally different breed. They employ different tactics. Regular UPI frauds are common but things such as identity theft and posing as Army personnel is a completely new tactic that is employed by these fraudsters as most of will never question the integrity of someone if he says that he is from Army. Here we will analyze two most common scams on OLX, People posing as Army person and scammers acting as buyers, and also how to avoid these.
Scammers acting as sellers
The advertisement and trust building.
This is the first thing that you see. Scammers register as sellers on OLX and other registered classified ads sites. Some times they have a real image of the bait image in which the small details such as licence plate number for cars is manipulated using various image editing softwares such as Photoshop, and other times they just reuse the content of actual sellers. The product(cars, bikes, mobile phones) will be priced at an unbelievably low price, luring many customers. Once you contact them they will try every trick in the book to take the conversation away from the OLX/Quikr app. The scammer will immediately tell you to contact him on Whatsapp or any other chatting platform by providing you his contact number.Below is a conversation between a scammer and a victim.
Once the conversation is outside the OLX app, the fraudster gains the trust of the victim by sharing private information such as Aadhar card, Army documents such as Army Transport Service and images in army(cheetah) dress, which is mostly stolen or forged. Once the conversation starts on whatsapp they have a set of stories that they use to trick victims. The most common stories start with : “I’m getting transferred to a remote location, so need to get rid of most of the stuff at the earliest and that is the reason for such a low price” or “I’m an army supply warden, and can supply stuff at a very low price due to army exemptions“
After this they start sending you forged documents, some of them is obtained by means of identity theft and some are forged using photoshop. These scammers sometimes use the images of real army person obtained through Facebook/Instagram to gain the trust.
The money transferring part.
This is the crucial part of the scam as it is mostly believed that scammers will not ask for huge amounts of payments directly. But here, this is not the case. As you are buying the product and you know it is from a man of credibility(Army person) you do not hesitate to make huge payments or whatever he asks you to do.
Mostly they will tell the victim that they reside somewhere else and need to ship the product via Army Transport Service. So they ask you to pay half the amount now and rest can be paid when you receive the product. With no hint of the scam, victim goes ahead and completes the payment believing that he will receive the product.
Another version of this is that the scammer demands money for the delivery of the item i.e, delivery charges, convincing the victim that the amount will be refunded after the product is delivered. After a few days the scammer will call again pretending that the cargo is stuck at border for clearances and that you have to pay urgently to get it cleared.
Scammers acting as buyers
The second type of common frauds on classified ads sites is that the scammer presents himself as a buyer. This type of scam is a UPI scam.
How it works: The scammer will show interest in your product and as mentioned earlier, will try to steer the conversation out of the the OLX app to Whatsapp. Once on Whatsapp he will try to negotiate with the customer and in recent cases, they directly agree on the mentioned price. They will persist on buying the items without actually checking it in person
Once the deal is finalized the scammer will ask to pay the price online via any of the popular UPI apps like Paytm, Google Pay, Phonepay etc. He will ask for your phone number that is linked to the UPI app. The victim, unknown of the scam will give the scammer his number.
As a seller, you should be extra careful while receiving any payment through bank-affiliated wallets. Instead of receiving the payment, you might, unfortunately, give away your money. If you receive any request to enter PIN no, it is a scam. Receiving money requires no PIN.
How to stay safe?
There are several things that you should keep in mind while shopping/selling on these websites:
- If you are buying something from such marketplaces, be careful on items which are priced very low as compared to the competition. Ask for the proof and try to gather as much as you can.
- It is also suggested that you keep your conversations limited within the app itself as most of the apps have now built-in chat features which let you connect directly to the seller/buyer. Most of the scammers give their Whatsapp numbers immediately, because of the automatic detection of scam accounts by OLX/Quikr systems. So by staying within the app you’ll stay safe.
- If you believe that the documents are forged then don’t hesitate on using Google to find the names mentioned in it, you might find something useful there.
- If you feel that the buyer has agreed on the price without haggling much, then beware, it has a probability of being a scam.
How to stay safe from UPI scams on OLX
- If you receive a SMS requesting you to send money, DO NOT proceed
- If buyer insists you to fill PIN number, stop interacting with the buyer.
- Do not EVER enter your PIN.
- If you receive a message stating money will be deducted or debited, BEWARE! You should always receive a message stating money will be credited if you are expecting payment.
- Watch out for words like Send, Requested by, Pay, etc. They all indicate that money is about to be debited from your account.
What to do if you’ve been scammed?
Start by blocking the number of the scammer immediately. Without delay, file a complaint with the relevant legal Authorities. You can reach out to local cyber cell or file a FIR at police station. Contact 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.
You can also report the ad on the app or you can contact OLX directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.