Almost anything can be purchased online thanks to the ease of online shopping. A wide variety of products can be bought online, including clothes, footwear, cosmetics, books, groceries, medicines, furniture, etc. Aside from being convenient, online shopping saves time and money for people. However, shopping online is not always safe since there are many risks involved. Fraudsters are constantly looking for new ways to defraud consumers. Social media ads are the most commonly used to defraud innocent people. They claim to be sellers and request advance payments.

Defrauded on Facebook marketplace while buying handbags:

Anita, a resident of Nagpur, was interested in purchasing handbags from a Rajasthani manufacturer when she was told about the offer. There was a Facebook page called Rajasthani Hub 11 that offered a wide variety of handbags and other items. She talked to the admin of the page and he invited her to join a WhatsApp group, where she found several other members who were also vendors.

Anita asked the admin to send her certain handbags she selected while browsing the Facebook page. Although it wasn't available, the admin asked her to transfer the amount, assuring her that he will arrange it from another vendor and send it directly to her. Having faith in him, Anita transferred Rs 1540/- for two handbags using Paytm.

She didn't realize she had stepped into a scammer's trap. After about a week, the admin started making excuses for Covid-19 and refused to share the tracking ID. As the month went by, Anita called her several times, but the admin said she needed more money to get the shipment processed. It was obvious to Anita that it was a scam, so she demanded a refund. After demanding it, the admin blocked her call and WhatsApp messages. In Anita's situation, there was no other choice but to spread the word about such fraudulent sellers on social media.

You may also be interested in - Fraud Story #112 - Scammed while buying a puppy from Facebook.

How to stay safe from fake sellers on social media?

1. Verify the seller's identity before making a purchase, and make sure you read the comments carefully before making a purchase from a social media page.

2. Any person who shows a lack of patience or shows urgency is likely to be a scammer. Paying someone in advance if you don't know them is not a good idea.

3. Never scan a QR code, give out an OTP, or visit a link provided by someone on the internet.

4. Using digital escrow platforms as a payment method is preferred. When you pay through an Escrow payment system over the internet, you are not sharing your information with strangers. One such platform for escrow is 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? 

Digital escrow services are offered by many companies in India. Among the most trusted is Vouch.

Vouch’s Digital Escrow service is a transparent way for buyers and sellers to build trust and secure a clean transfer of product and payment. Sellers can feel assured that they will be fairly compensated promptly, and buyers will feel confident that their order will be delivered as expected and on schedule. Vouch Digital Escrow keeps you updated and informed at every step of the transaction process till the end. Vouch’s professionals are always available to assist you with all queries that you may have during the entire transaction process. 

There is no scope for deceit or fraud since the payments, shipping, delivery, and execution are carried out under the honest and watchful eyes of the Vouch’s professionals. With Vouch, any business transaction becomes transparent, uncomplicated, and hassle-free. If you ever come across a fraudster asking for OTP, asking you to scan a QR code, or asking you to click on phishing links, you can simply refuse and ask him/her to proceed with the transaction through Vouch.

This is Fraud Story #116. 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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