Months ago, Lami wanted to purchase some clothes from her favourite Instagram vendor. She had had a good customer relationship with the vendor for a while and did not suspect anything when the vendor reached out to her on WhatsApp, explained she couldn’t send her a DM on Instagram, sent her the photos of the clothes she had indicated interest in in the comment section, and sent her an account number. It was after she paid it dawned on her: there was something wrong. After the delivery time elapsed and she didn’t get her order, she reached out to the vendor again on WhatsApp but she had been blocked. When she reached out to the vendor on Instagram, her fears were confirmed: she had been scammed.
Before, scammers would call you to pretend they are your long-lost cousin or uncle living abroad, or call to tell you about one imaginary job in Shell or Chevron. Today, scams are taking a new direction – some in the form of investment scams, online sales scams, corporate scams. There are many more companies promising investors a high percent ROI (Return on Investment) in very few months. Some as high as 50% ROI monthly. Many ‘founders’ have also been nabbed or called out on social media for absconding with people’s ‘investments’.
There are also people on social media pretending to own businesses, and sell wares just to scam unsuspecting victims. Reaching out to customers via WhatsApp isn’t the only way people this is being done, many of them own social media pages that look legit: they have followers; post goods regularly; attach prices to them; they attend to you well when you send them a DM but immediately you pay for your items, they block you. Many go as far as having a website with customer care numbers and email addresses. On their social media pages, they also post receipts from imaginary satisfied customers.
As the year comes to an end, there’s an increase in online shopping, and sales scammers are also on the lookout for people to dupe. Here are a few things you can watch out for:
Are you seeing adverts of an 80% discount, or seeing your favourite shoe being sold for 8,000 naira instead of the usual 35,000 naira? Are you seeing Dubai return tickets for 70,000 naira? It may be a scam. If you ever feel that the offers are too good to be true, they just may be. The same goes for investment opportunities too. If you are being asked to invest in a company with the promise of a 50% ROI monthly, you may want to double-check and do your research to be sure you’re not being defrauded.
Watch your emotions. Yes, you want to buy amazing things at more affordable prices, you want to invest your money, especially for the future. You probably want to tick certain items off your bucket list before the new year. But in your haste to purchase items before the year runs out, or at a cheaper rate, beware of online scams, and take notice of where you’re purchasing items from.
You are seeing amazing deals on Instagram but the comments of all the posts are locked? That’s a red flag. Sometimes, vendors lock the comment of a particular post because they are vile and hurtful, but if you notice it to be a pattern, it could mean that the vendor doesn’t want people who have been previously scammed to make complaints in the comment section. If you also notice a page that has millions or thousands of followers but has no comments on all posts, hesitate and carry out enough research before making any purchase; many scammers buy social media pages with large followers.
Watch out for emails, WhatsApp messages or websites containing poor grammar and spelling mistakes. Brands take great care with their online presentation, so if you see brands/companies who seem not to care about their appearance, grammar, or perception, it is because they have nothing to lose.
If you are purchasing from a company, ensure the brand/business name is on the invoice. Do not accept invoices with personal names when purchasing from a company. We understand that little online stores may not have a company account yet, but ensure you have made purchases from or already have a relationship with a trusted vendor before making payments.
As you make purchases this festive season, don’t be too swift to whip out your credit card or make that transfer.
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