It's really easy for your money to find its way into the greedy hands of a scammer, especially when you're hunting for a good deal.
As someone who was the victim of an online fraudster who vanished with my rental deposit money last month, I can now spot a scam from a mile away.
Let me take this moment to tell you that if an offer seems too good to be true, then it most certainly is. Always question and thoroughly research those shiny, alluring deals.
Just the other day I came across an ad online (which has now been removed) where someone was offering to rent out their two bedroom apartment in lavish ole' Sea Point for a mere R3500. If you've been apartment hunting for a while you will know that there is no way you can get a deal of that nature within even 15km of that area. Just ignore and keep scrolling.
Here are a few more pointers on how to avoid being the next victim of a scam. These tips will protect you whether you're buying or selling:
Do your research
This applies to both buyers and sellers. If you feel that there is something suspicious, you can start by entering the number into the trucaller app to get the real identity of the advertiser or interested buyer.
If you are buying, also check the seller's ratings and feedback from the ad.
Scammers like to use very generic names too. These will usually be something along the lines of Mathew James, Abdul Mohammed or Jessica Jones. Google such names and if no verifiable Facebook or LinkedIn account appears, be weary.
Any email with several grammatical and spelling errors is reason enough for you to move on.
Don't meet strangers that you've only made agreements with via email or text in secluded areas or in your home. Either take someone with you or meet in a very public space like the entrance of a mall.
Protect your personal details
Be sure not to send any banking details and your ID number to someone selling something to you. Fraudsters can easily use these details to open credit accounts in your name and even make fraudulent ID copies.
Global money transfers?
Is a buyer or seller insisting that the transaction be made via Moneygram or Western Union? Don't. Here's why.
Take your time
Scammers tend to get impatient with the people they are dealing with. They will rush you to make a payment under the guise of someone else wanting to take the offer just as much as you do. Don't fall for it. Take your time and weigh your options because in this case it's better to waste time than money.
Elmarie Twilley of Afrikaans insurance brand, Virseker gives the most apt advice in saying, "Scepticism and common sense are key because without them, you’re almost guaranteed to land in a criminal’s crosshairs.”
You can visit this handy site to find a directory of where to report scams and other cyber crimes.