Scams and Fraud
Here at Vottle.com we really loathe scammers and whilst measures are in place to try and reduce the risk of our users being scammed the responsibility really lies with you, our users. We rely on our Vottle community to be vigilant and to report any suspicious activities to us. This can be done via the web site. You will notice that each posting has a "Pull Down" in the links block. By clicking on the pull down you will have an option to "Report as Scam". (See image below)
The Vottle team will then evaluate the information and take appropriate action.
You can avoid would-be scammers by following simple common-sense rules:
- Try and deal with local people - Generally it's a good rule to deal with people who are in the same country as you.
- Chat to people in person - Try to communicate to people via the phone or in person; you should get a better 'feeling' for someone if you communicate directly.
- NEVER wire funds via Western Union or MoneyGram or any other money wire service. This is a big no-no, do NOT do this.
- Fake cheques and Money Orders are very common, and banks will cash them and hold you responsible when the fake is discovered weeks later.
- Vottle is not involved in any transactions and does not handle payments, guarantee transactions, provide escrow services, or offer "buyer protection" or "seller certification". Many scammers will try and trick users in to believing that they are affiliated with Vottle, this is not true and is a scam.
- Identity fraud is a big concern on the Internet today. Scammers try and obtain as much information from you as possible and then try to masquerade as you by opening credit accounts, etc. Keep your personal details safe (e.g. ID number, bank account details, physical and postal addresses, etc). ONLY give this information to people you absolutely trust!
- If the deal seams to good to be true, it generally is.
Who should I notify about fraud or scam attempts?
- You can email the South African Police Service (SAPS) commercial crimes division - firstname.lastname@example.org or phone them on one of the following numbers (+27-11-807-5300, +27-11-807-5320, +27-11-807-5327/8/9)
- You can also submit an anonymous tip by clicking http://www.saps.gov.za/_dynamicModules/internetsite/crimestop.asp or email email@example.com
If you suspect that an item posted for sale on Vottle may be part of a scam, please email the details to "firstname.lastname@example.org". Be sure to include the post's "Unique Reference:" in your email.
Most scams involve one or more of the following:
- An inquiry from someone far away, often in another country.
- Western Union, Money Gram, cashier's cheque, money order, shipping, escrow service, or a "guarantee".
- Inability or refusal to meet face-to-face or offer a local phone number.
- Companies pretending to be large organisations but using a free email domain such as Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, etc.
Examples of scams
- Someone claims that Vottle will guarantee a transaction, certify a buyer/seller, OR claims that Vottle will handle or provide protection for a payment:
- These claims are fraudulent, as Vottle does not have any role in any transaction.
- Scammers will often send an official looking email that appears to come from Vottle, offering a guarantee, certifying a seller, providing payment services -- all such emails are fakes!
- Distant person offers a genuine-looking (but fake) cashier's cheque:
- You receive an email offering to buy your item, or rent your apartment, sight unseen.
- Cashier's cheque is offered for your sale item, as a deposit for an apartment, or for just about anything else of value.
- Value of cashier's cheque often far exceeds your item - scammer offers to "trust" you, and asks you to wire the balance via money transfer service.
- Banks will often cash these fake cheques AND THEN HOLD YOU RESPONSIBLE WHEN THE CHEQUE FAILS TO CLEAR, including criminal prosecution in some cases!
- Scam often involves a 3rd party (shipping agent, business associate owing buyer money, etc.)
- Someone requests wire service payment via Western Union or MoneyGram:
- Often claim that an MTCN or confirmation code is needed before he can withdraw your money - this is FALSE, once you've wired money, it is GONE.
- Scam "bait" items include laptops, plasma TVs, cell phones, tickets - but could be almost anything.
- Common countries currently include: Nigeria, Romania, Ukraine, Spain, UK, Italy, Netherlands - but could be anywhere.
- Deal often seems too good to be true.
- Distant person offers to send you a money order and then have you wire money back:
- This is ALWAYS a scam, in our experience - the cashier's cheque is FAKE.
- Sometimes accompanies an offer of merchandise, sometimes not.
- Scammer often asks for your name, address, etc. for printing on the (fake) cheque.
- Deal often seems too good to be true.
- Distant seller suggests use of an online escrow service:
- Most online escrow sites are FRAUDULENT, operated by scammers.
- For more info, do a Google search on "fake escrow" or "escrow fraud".
- Distant seller asks for a partial payment upfront, after which he will ship goods:
- He says he trusts you with the partial payment.
- He may say he has already shipped the goods.
- Deal often sounds too good to be true.
- Foreign company offers you a job receiving payments from customers, then wiring funds:
- Foreign company may claim it is unable to receive payments from its customers directly.
- You are typically offered a percentage of payments received.
- This kind of "position" may be posted as a job, or offered to you via email.