E-commerce sites work with police to fight scammers

A fake Chanel bag a victim got when she traded in her authentic two-week-old Yves Saint Laurent bag on Carousell last year.
PHOTO: The New Paper

Online marketplace platforms stepping up their game to weed out fraud

Online purchase scams are on the rise, and marketplace platforms are stepping up the fight against them.

Last week, The Straits Times (ST) said at least 23 reports were made by victims who were tricked when they tried to buy ZoukOut tickets online.

Most were scammed using online community marketplaces such as Carousell, Craigslist, Gumtree and also on Facebook, the police told ST.

From January to September this year, there were at least 1,491 reported e-commerce scams - involving about $1 million - up from 1,336 cases last year, according to figures released by the police last month.

Victims were often told to pay in advance for attractively priced items such as gadgets and tickets, reported ST.

Some were asked to make further payments for Customs clearance fees, delivery charges and taxes for their purchases - which were never delivered.

Online marketplace platforms told The New Paper they take such scams seriously and are working to detect and weed out such fraudulent behaviour.

Carousell said it is working with law enforcement agencies with regard to the recent ZoukOut tickets incident.

Gumtree also said it cooperates and works closely with law enforcement agencies to keep its site free from illegal activities.

Carousell said dealing with scams is an industry-wide challenge, which it tackles with a zero tolerance policy against fraud and dishonest acts.

"We have built features for user feedback, user verification, as well as trust and safety guidelines," said Carousell.

It has dedicated teams and automated processes to monitor suspicious activity based on details gathered from user patterns, keywords and phrases.

Carousell also said it will not hesitate to suspend and ban user accounts should it find grounds to do so after investigating community reports that it receives through user flags and e-mails.

A spokesman for Gumtree said all advertisements listed on the site can be reported for suspicious activity by users.

"We then review the ads and delete them as soon as possible, if the ads are found to be illegal (or against Gumtree's posting rules)," said the spokesman.

Newly launched e-commerce platform HeyBuddies told TNP that in the event of a dispute between the buyer and seller, it will intervene. This is especially so if a buyer suspects the item bought is a fake, said its chief executive officer Merliza Lim.

Facebook, which also has a marketplace platform, has a channel for users to give them feedback if something goes wrong.

Its policy prohibits the advertising of illegal or misleading products.

Police, in their advisory, warned customers to be wary of people selling items for prices that sound too good to be true.

"Check that the seller is physically located where they claim to be. If the seller does not provide enough information about their business or terms and conditions up front, be suspicious.

"Check the seller's track record by reading reviews of their services or contact past customers," said the police.


This article was first published on December 09, 2016.
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