Almost conned out of thousands and gadgets

Cape Town - A Fin24 user shares her huge wake-up call on the online selling/buying platform, and found the only way not to get conned is to take cash only.

Fin24 reported that a number of people have had experiences of being conned on online buying platforms.

Fiddy Gey Van Pittius writes that she was selling a gaming console online when a number of red flags raised her suspicions.

"On the 15 December 2014, I was selling a brand new Xbox on OLX for R2 000.00 A 'Sam Dladla messaged me to say he wants to buy it ASAP (as soon as possible), can he transfer the money and he will have his driver pick it up.

'Is the Xbox you posted online still on offer I'm interested in buying it asap. Please let me know, Sam.'

"I agreed and gave my bank details. Received a 'bank SMS' from Nedbank to say funds transferred and being naive to selling online, was happy with the message and that the 'driver' was going to collect.

"The problem was, Sam paid in R400 too much so I messaged him to give me his bank details and I will transfer the excess amount back. He messaged me back saying no worries can I just give the courier the R400 cash. This was the first red flag - name change from 'my driver' to 'courier'.

"While I waited for the courier to arrive at my home address, I received another and from 'Nedbank' showing another amount, R5050.00 amount deposited into my account by Sam Dladla.

"I called him to find out what this was and he actually answered and said that it was his mistake; he was paying a 'Garden Service' and that he put my bank details in by mistake and asked me to transfer the money into an account immediately as the 'Garden Service' was waiting for the money. I declined and said my husband will do it later. This was another red flag!

"The courier arrived and I spoke with him, a very nice gentleman, he said he was called by Sam earlier and he does not know Sam, he was just asked to collect the item and deliver to Johannesburg and that I would pay him R400 cash for the courier service. I said unfortunately I did not draw cash and that he needs to collect his courier fees from Sam.

"I handed over the Xbox to the courier and he drove off. I then called Nedbank and enquired about confirming the SMS. They said they could not do that and after I explained the morning's happenings the Nedbank rep warned me of fraudulent activity.

"I then called the courier as he had given me his card for future business. He was near Sandton and I asked him to turn around and bring the item back to me as I suspected fraud. He obliged, the gentleman he is, and he drove all the way back to Pretoria. When he arrived back at my home, I gave him R300 for his trouble and explained the situation to him.

"He was astounded and again said he was called off his advert about 30 minutes before he collected the item and does not know Sam at all. While I was waiting for the courier to return, I was called seven times by Sam and then he messaged me to ask what's going on and why I told the courier to turn around; he said he has paid the money into my account.

"I politely messaged him back saying I will need to wait for the money to clear before handing over the goods and apologised for any inconvenience. Sam was mad and said it was a present for his son. I apologised again and said my bank warned me not to hand over merchandise before payment clears.

"He just answered 'then pay me back when it clears'. No mention of the other R5 050 and no bank details given... . Very strange indeed! Needless to say, there was no money actually transferred and it was a scam.

"I was lucky to get my merchandise back thanks to the young gentleman courier. I have kept all of the messages from Sam along with his telephone number.

"One week later I posted an advert on OLX selling my iPhone. I received the same standard message from none other than Sam!
'Is the iPhone 5 you posted online still on offer I'm interested in buying it asap .please let me know Sam'.

"He deleted my number but I had kept his! I replied saying 'cash only'. Never heard from him again."

Gey Van Pittius said that she learnt a valuable lesson from the experience.

"This was all a huge wake-up call telling me never to trust anyone on the on-line selling/buying platform. Cash only, meeting personally in a public place - the only way not to get conned!"