Thanks to modern technology, many things can be done online in just a few clicks. Whether it's buying or selling goods, many people prefer doing it online. Despite the many benefits of modern technology, there are also many drawbacks. The number of online frauds is rising like a tidal wave, and fraudsters are becoming cleverer every day. In spite of the number of sellers selling second-hand products online that are genuine, there are fraudulent sellers who cheat people out of their money.

How does this fraud work?

Typically, the fraudster poses as an Army personnel and contacts the person attempting to buy/sell a product on websites or apps such as OLX and Quikr. He conducts a conversation that seems legitimate to the victim. Once both parties have agreed to a certain price, the fraudster will say he is stationed in an inaccessible part of the country and cannot accept cash payments. 

Due to his claim to be an Indian soldier, people instantly trust him. Fraudsters then use online payment to receive funds and then disappear after receiving them.

An instance from real life.

Man allegedly had Rs 3.3 lakh taken from him by a man who claimed to be an army officer and said he would sell him a car on an e-commerce site for second-hand items.

The victim works in the engineering department of an automobile company located in Manesar, and he came across the advertisement on an online shopping site for second-hand goods for a Swift Dzire car while searching for a second-hand car. The victim reached out to the number listed along with the advertisement after viewing it. In his introduction, the seller introduced himself as an Indian army officer posted in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. Both parties came to an agreement on a price of Rs 1.8 lakhs after speaking for a while. According to the victim, the seller was asking to make the payment in advance and he also provided a picture of his army ID card via WhatsApp to gain the victim’s trust. Having faith that the seller was genuine, the victim transferred the funds to the seller. Upon receiving the payment, the seller demanded another Rs 1.53 lakhs and said his associate would deliver the car within 20 days. He agreed and sent another Rs 1.53 lakh in three installments. After making the payment and waiting for a few days, the victim checked on the status of his car but received no response from the seller. 

The victim reported the fraud to the police after realizing he had been conned. He reports that the incident occurred the first week in March, and a police report was filed the following week. Furthermore, he has also filed a complaint with the Haryana CM window.

Also Check: Fraud story #87 - Posed as an army officer and scammed a Facebook seller.

When buying items online, keep these things in mind:

1. Verify the sellers

Check if the seller is genuine before purchasing a second-hand phone from any website. It is due to a large number of fake sellers out there who fool people by claiming to sell second-hand phones. A fraudster simply disappears once they have collected the payment.

 2. Avoid making advance payment

If the seller insists on requiring advance payment, it is wise not to make one.  There are some sellers who ask you to pay half now and the remaining amount upon delivery. Paying the advance will result in them running away. There is a possibility that the seller may block your number after receiving your payment.

 3. Avoid making payment through a QR code

It is extremely important to be careful when making a payment through a QR code. Since you are unsure of who the payment is to, you cannot verify. 

 4. Beware of too good to be true offers

Offers that seem too good to be true should never be accepted. In other words, anything that sells for a very low price is not right.

 5. Make payment through a digital escrow platform

It is recommended that digital escrow platforms be used for payment. When making an online payment with Escrow, you do not share your financial information with anyone. There is a platform for escrow called Vouch

How does digital escrow work?

In digital escrow, a third-party account holds the money deposited by the buyer until the seller fulfills the terms of the contract. The escrow company supervises the transacting parties.

What is the role of Digital Escrow in preventing online fraud in India? 

By securing the payment flows between buyers and sellers through the Vouch Digital Escrow service, smooth transfers of products and payments are assured. Sellers can rest assured that they'll be fairly compensated quickly and buyers can expect their orders to arrive on time. Fraudsters who request to scan QR codes or get OTP codes or ask you to click on phishing links can be easily avoided by declining and requesting that the transaction be completed through Vouch. 

Vouch Digital Escrow offers non-interest-bearing escrow accounts to all companies in India, and you are kept informed at every stage of the transaction. Payments, shipping, delivery, and fulfillment are all handled under the watchful guidance of Vouch's professionals, so deceit or fraud is impossible. Vouch's professionals will be able to answer all of your questions throughout the entire transaction process. With Vouch, business transactions are transparent, streamlined, and convenient.

 This is Fraud Story #101. Check back here for more fraud stories and scams that you can protect yourself from.

Safety is not just about protecting your credit, debit card number, and UPI accounts. It's about having control of your money till you've received the product or service you bought online!

Note: This is a good-faith initiative to educate the world about avoiding frauds like these and how to act when you're becoming a victim of such a situation. 

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