Would-be buyers must verify seller, product: Lawyer
The number of online scams involving fake products has increased in Karnataka in the past two years. Fraudsters use reselling apps to publish advertisements for fake products.
The Observer spoke to Sunil K, chief constable at the cyber crime department, about the issue.
“We track the scammer by analyzing his bank transactions. When the buyer uses a card to pay, the amount is transferred from his bank account to an account linked to the seller. With the help of the bank, we collect and analyze the record of the transaction to track down the criminal. The job becomes easier if the scammer uses his bank account that of or anyone he knows, but if the is account is linked to fake IDs, then the process becomes complex,” Sunil said.
Some online platforms let sellers post their ads for free and connect directly to interested parties. Those interested may call or get in touch with the seller directly to buy their product. Many users of such portals complain they were scammed. On these websites, fraudsters create fake IDs and offer duplicate products for very low prices. Mobiles, electronic gadgets, gaming devices, cars, and even antiques are faked the most. There have been cases where people have been scammed after paying by credit or debit cards.
Animesh P, a bank employee who became a victim of an online scam, informed The Observer: “It happened in 2018. I was planning to buy a sofa set. As I had a tight budget, I decided to buy a second-hand one. I found the set that I wanted to buy and had a chat with the seller. He sent me quite a few pictures of the set and informed me about its condition. It was a good bargain. Though I wanted to meet up with the seller and pay him in cash, the seller insisted on an online transaction. He sounded credible, and I thought that I had sufficient information about the product by then. So I used my debit card to pay. As soon as the transaction was complete, the seller blocked my number and removed the ad from the website. By then, I realized that I had been scammed.”
Section 420 of the IPC says: “Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property.—Whoever cheats and thereby dishonestly induces the person deceived to deliver any property to any person, or to make, alter or destroy the whole or any part of a valuable security, or anything which is signed or sealed, and which is capable of being converted into a valuable security, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.”
ADVANCED FEE SCAM CASES
2017: 290 cases registered
2018: 945 cases registered
2019 (Up to Oct 27): 1,910 cases registered
From 2017 to 2018, the crime rate rose by 225%. From 2018 to 2019 (till October 27), it increased by 102%.
Syed Ahmed, owner of a mobile shop in Dharmaraja Koil Street, Shivajinagar, shared: “We publish ads of products we want to sell online. Most of the time, these are second-hand products, but we sell new ones too. To preserve our credibility, we prefer cash payments. We post ads under the name of the shop and address. It has been more than five years since we have been run our business both offline and online. Our customers have no complaints.”
Lawyer Deepthi Ayathan said: “Verification is the key to online safety. Suppose I want like to buy a table and I go to OLX to see if there is a second-hand table of the same model available. I would check for the seller’s details and the information he has provided about the item. I would call the owner directly or take their WhatsApp number and request for more pictures of the product. I would verify the product at least a couple of times before paying. People go for immediate transactions and lose their money. If one hurries in online transactions and overlooks verification, there is a huge chance of the person getting scammed.”