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So, you decide to sell something on either Gumtree or OLX.

In selling an item, unless it's a tech gadget (smart phone, laptop, game console etc.), it needs to be a real bargain or otherwise a really wanted or needed item to get you immediate response from interested buyers.

And even then, with that immedaite interest, you've got to know there's going to be some haggling over the price, whether or not you've stated ONCO.

So, don't you get suspitious when there's no haggling, and/or money has been paid into some PayFast or PayPal account you don't have (even if they provide you with some details and 'proof'), and only after little communication at that? Typically you're super stoked that the item was sold so quickly and money is on it's way to you - much needed in most cases.

But now, in some instances, the buyer informs you of the fees that need to be paid by you in order to get the money from his/her country and that you need to transfer that fee amount to make it happen. Disapointing as that is, your eagerness to receive your sale proceeds may push you to do just that.

There are two possible outcomes to the above scenario/s:

  1. You post or arrange delivery of the item to the buyer, because hey the money is with PayFast or PayPal (legitimate payent processing companies), only to find out later that the money never existed - lost item and no money
  2. Those fees, you paid accross to expidite receipt of your money, didn't exist and just went into some scam account - lost money and maybe also lost item

I was listening to an acquaintance's story about selling a car - the buyer tried the above fee stunt. Fortunately my acquaintance had contacted PayFast to confirm details only to be informed that buyers are running scams using the PayFast and PayPal brands.

My reaction to this, as well as another's where they'd been caught and lost the items (no fee scam in the latter cases) is "How on earth do you fall for this!?". However I then realise that not everybody may know how PayFast and PayPal work. Hence this article.

As a web designer and having a fair amount of experience on E-Commerce/on-line-shopping sites, I know this-

  1. PayFast is your, let's say, SA version of PayPal, and like with PayPal the E-Commerce shop (site) registers with PayFast in order to get the payment component merchant ID needed to have the PayFast show and work on the site; 
  2. PayPal is not usually used on SA E-Commerce sites as PayPal do not have SA's approval, yet, to include the ZAR or R in their currency choice for price display;

so neither of these payment processing services apply to you as an individual seller. 

As an individual seller through any method, in order to receive money through a PayPal account, you would have to open/create one, have access to it and give those details, like you would your usual bank account details for EFT's and cash deposits, to the buyer. Makes sense, yes? Then why do people even bother to check with PayFast or PayPal to see if they are holding money for you if you haven't provided any account details?

So warning signs, people! IF

  1. Gumtree and OLX are not offering you a PayFast facility (and they don't)
  2. You don't have your own PayPal account or you haven't provided the details to the buyer
  3. You are not able to draw the cash, deposited by buyer, from your usual bank account, or for that matter your PayPal account

IT DIDN'T HAPPEN!  THERE IS NO MONEY FOR YOU!  KEEP YOUR ITEM!

And lastly, I'd always want to chat to the person interested in the item for sale - not only to suss them out, but also discuss some important details about the transaction. I mean, when you're buying something on-line, surely you want to know how it'll be sent, how long that'll take etc? If these questions aren't being asked and/or you aren't able to connect via phone at least...something's odd.

Con artists rely on our need for extra money. Don't be caught out of desperation.

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