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The Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association of South Africa (WASPA) has warned people trading in second-hand goods to be wary of a new scam where buyers send them fraudulent confirmations of bank deposits so that they can obtain the seller’s goods for free.
The scammers use commercial SMS messaging services to send the seller an apparently legitimate confirmation that they have deposited the money they will be paying for the goods. They then insist on taking the goods from the seller, who soon discovers that no deposit was ever made to his bank account.
The scams target people selling goods in newspaper classifieds and online services such as Gumtree. The fraudsters currently operate mostly on the weekends and in the evenings.
Said WASPA management committee member Casper de Villiers: “Unfortunately, it is all too easy for scammers to create and send an SMS that is a convincing replica of the ones that your bank might send when someone makes a deposit in your account.
“We recommend not releasing the goods you are selling until you see the deposit reflected in your bank account when you look at your statements online or using cellphone banking.”
De Villiers said that people selling goods to strangers always need to be cautious in their dealings and ensure that the buyer has lived up to his promise of payment before parting with the goods.
He added that WASPA and its members are taking a proactive approach to fighting this sort of abuse of commercial SMS messaging platforms. WASPA urges any member of the public who has fallen prey to such a scam to immediately report the matter at the nearest police station where they will be able to open a case.
WASPA and its members will use this information to alert the public to new scam techniques and to refine their own approaches to fighting scammers.