Internet scams are becoming a problem to many in Africa. Scammers are upping up their attacks on people who are selling goods online. So far in 2017, more than 100 people across a dozen of African countries have fallen victim to online scams and lost a combined $38,000. Thats the figure I could manage to add up from stories shared on social media platforms for the last five days.In 2015, there were more than 33,000 reports of online scams that cost Africans almost $890,000. People who use websites to buy and sell goods must be vigilant. Your blogger has seen several emails purportedly from genuine buyers and sellers who are using a Kenyan retail website. The scammers initially send a mail, asking if the Tv screens advertised in run up to the festive season are is still available, and asked the seller to contact them only by email. Once the seller made the contact by email, the scammer sent an email saying thank you for getting back, I’m very excited with the Tv availability, I work with Safaricom and am presently on holiday in Seychelles.I do not have access to phone at the moment and that’s why I contacted you with internet messaging facility. I will be paying you through Mpesa linked up with my bank account, please get back to me with your Mpesa details, I have also contacted my courier back in Nairobi who will come for pick up and deliver it to my place in Westlands after the whole fund has been cleared into your account.What one sees on black market is shocking. Hard to understand how inhuman human beings are. Such case in Kenya and others, shows that if the seller agreed and provided payment or banking details, the scammer would then send a fake transaction report.
Let me help you understand how scam works in such a scenario of the fake Tv buyer. The courier comes and picks up the TV set and at that point, it is effectively stolen. The buyer suddenly demands a refund on the fake transaction and scammers “without noticing“ pay extra on the fake transaction and demand to be reimbursed. Such scams are very old school but are still there periodically. Scammers will use all those usual stories like I work with an NGO which focuses on far flung remote areas or some kind of remote location or pretend to be on holiday. Usually they don’t have access to the internet or the phone, they can use only email and text message. The idea is usually to take you out of normal channels of communication. In another case that was shared online, a Ghanian scam involved an Audi car being advertised and the scammer wanting to make a quick sale. They promised to courier the car as soon as payment has been deposited into an account to the would be buyer in Nigeria.But once payment were made, the car was never dispatched.No doubt major retail websites in Africa constantly update their security systems to ensure customers were protected in order to stay ahead of the game, one step ahead of the bad guys. What however is clear, is that when you initiate direct conversation with such guys you’re on your own. Few would ever explain their background, they don’t have online profiles nor formal email addresses. Most of the scammers live in Africa, but they have partners outside Africa who were able to help them prove they were real buyers and sellers. It is very fascinating to watch what the bad guys will do to try to get through and look like genuine folks. If it is too good to be true then think twice. In another case, scammers posing as South Africa customs employees are using personal data to extort money from hundreds of victims across the country. The personal details of South Africans are being sold on a black market to scammers overseas. Unless authorities tackle this nascent problem, Africans should brace themselves for a life where their data is sold online by crooks.