Hey guys! Terribly sorry for the lack of updates. I have so many things to talk about yet so little time to do so ever since school started. Before laziness kicks in again, here’s one wordy post I’m sure many online shoppers can relate.
As the title mentions, it’s going to be about dealing with unscrupulous people online. What prompted me to draft this post was my close shave with a scammer on Carousell who nearly cheated me of S$19 for a piece of brand new romper that I doubt ever existed. I have successfully gotten back my money so I really hope by penning down my experience, it would serve as a reminder for everyone to be more cautious when shopping online. Of course, I’ll also be sharing some tips on how to avoid getting swindled and what to do if you are in that situation.
Yes, S$19 may not be a lot but it’s money I painstakingly earned from a month’s slog. Even if I had to part with that sum of money, I would rather give it to people who are worthy of it, and not to those good-for-nothing individuals who live off others’ hard-earn money. Freeloaders top my list of most hated people and they include those shameless ones asking for money when they are perfectly abled YET refuse to work. Scammers are no different but they are definitely worse than them in terms of morals and ethics.
I was searching for Rochette Romper (from Love, Bonito) on Carousell and I stumbled upon one for sale at S$20. Those who shop at Love, Bonito would know that the popular sold-out romper retailed for about S$35 on site and resellers typically sell them for about S$30. So S$20 for a brand new piece was really a steal! The price included normal postage and was even reduced to S$19 when I asked if price was negotiable. But what made it dubious was the fact that it was still available even after several hours of being listed when the romper was highly sought after everywhere. Later I read the listing description that there were two pieces (of the same size and colour) available. Partially also not wanting to miss out on a great deal, I gave the seller the benefit of the doubt as after all it’s not uncommon for items to be sold on a first-pay, first-served basis. She perhaps practised that, I thought to myself. Within an hour, I had already made payment (via ATM) to that swindler. However I couldn’t make any offer through that listing because the item was already “reserved for someone else”. In other words, she had already accepted someone else’s offer, probably the buyer of the first piece. That was before the App allowed multiple acceptance of offers after its recent update.
For the record, text in pink speech bubble was written by me while the one in grey was by the scammer.
Before transferring the funds, I did do some background checks on that seller such as reading her ratings. At that time, she had 3 positive, 1 neutral and 1 negative. Loss mail and dishonesty were the main reasons for the negative rating. To be safe, I asked for a video proof of postage but was declined because she was “mailing many parcels alone” even though she stated that she’d provide that service upon request on her profile. She also “encouraged” me to opt for registered postage and quoted me S$3.80 for it when Singpost only charges an additional S$2.24 for local registered articles. I felt more discouraged than encouraged seriously and that’s probably her plan to deter buyers from opting for registered postage. Didn’t want to be ripped off, I told her to send me a picture of the parcel before mailing it out via normal postage. Biggest mistake ever.
But on second thought, if she was really out to cheat, I think she would find all sorts of excuse to delay the delivery even if I were to opt for registered postage so I guess the best solution is to not buy from her altogether? Unfortunately I didn’t contemplate any further as my eagerness had already clouded my judgement. The deal was just too irresistible and I think that’s one danger of online shopping. We get so immersed in finding dirt-cheap bargains that we gradually lose our sense of rationality.
Since she was selling two similar pieces (later it became three), I wanted to make sure that the rompers were originally and brand new from Love, Bonito and not some replicated piece from Taobao. She assured me that they were indeed from Love, Bonito and even had the tag on (as shown in picture above). Also, her replies were rather fast before I made payment.
However, two weeks passed and still no sight of the parcel. The longest time I had waited for a parcel’s arrival was a week and it was because my envelope was tampered with and Singpost took the liberty to repackage it. On other occasions, my parcel was returned to the sender because my address was smudged by the rain. The past two weeks had perfectly fine weather so there was no reason for the delay.
If she had underpaid the postage, the parcel would still be delivered to me but I’d have to bear the penalty.
And most importantly, I had never experienced any lost mail. I know Singpost has a rather bad reputation of mishandling mails and I believe that mails do get missing from time to time as it happened thrice to my friend living at Jalan Membina. But the postmen servicing my old and current estates never fail to deliver my parcels successfully, rain or shine. People who know me would know how much of a shopaholic I am and I receive an average of three bulky parcels a week. I am such a frequent online shopper that even my Bukit Batok postwoman once personally delivered a parcel that had no unit number to me LOL. Furthermore, it’s a national postal carrier utilised by major companies that send out bills and letters in regular envelopes every single day. If such small items can be delivered without any problem, how would an A4-sized bulky parcel disappear? Well, unless someone stole the mailbag away during transit but that’s VERY rare.
I decided to confront the seller but of course, I started off with a more courteous tone.
I asked if other buyers had received theirs to which she replied that they already did. What a liar. The truth will always prevail.
I felt being polite was going to lead me to nowhere, so I jumped the gun.
Notice how she immediately turned the tables and accused me of not opting for registered mail although she “encouraged” me to? Typical response of a scammer who attempted to cover her ass. I’m sorry but your ass is obviously too big ‘coz I totally saw through you.
The altercation continued. Each time she tried to outdo me in the length of writing. Okay sure, bring it on!
I bombarded her with lots of questions which she couldn’t answer, and her replies were extremely slow.
Carousell admin was also taking a long time to get back to my complaint because of a major event over the weekends. I grew really impatient and eventually embarked on my own investigation. I couldn’t get anything by Googling her username, but I made a huge discovery when I searched for the DBS CURRENT account I transferred the S$19 to because I found out that it actually belongs to 65daigou.com. 65Daigou works as a forwarder for sites that don’t accept international credit cards like Taobao. To purchase from these sites, you’d have to first top-up your account with cash (via bank transfer, credit card etc.) and you can withdraw them anytime.
Does that give you an idea of the scammer’s plan? Yes, that loser had been making use of a third party’s bank account to receive funds because she obviously knew that it’d be too risky if she used her own bank account. She avoided using anything that would suggest her identity. Smart move, but there is no such thing as a perfect crime. You’re bound to leave traces of your misdeeds.
On top of that, I also managed to find out who she is, her age, where she studies and her place of residence despite her extreme cautiousness. But I never once threatened to expose her.. although I did plan to do so if she ultimately refused to refund. I’m cut out to be a detective, doncha think? People say that you need to have the mind of a criminal to know how a criminal operates. That’s absolutely true although I don’t scam. I just have lotsa tricks up my sleeve hehe. Or maybe I’m just overly analytical.
On the fourth day, I messaged the buyer that left her the negative rating to understand more about her situation. Apparently, in a bid to deter meetups, that deceitful seller charged her S$3 for meetup at her (the seller’s) convenience. How ludicrous. No one in the right mind would PAY to meet when mailing would cost also around the same. She opted for normal postage in the end but of course, the parcel never came and she never got her money back. She also mentioned that there used to be many other negative reviews relating to the same issues on her page, but somehow they got deleted!
In the end, THREE people approached me. That makes FOUR buyers of the romper including myself. Didn’t she only have THREE pieces? And didn’t she say that everyone else had received their romper? BAM! That confirmed my suspicion that she was scheming to cheat!
Out of the three buyers, one received hers after two weeks while another had been promised a refund because her parcel was “returned”. Upon receiving the returned mail, the swindler ripped it open to find the romper stained! And she totally blamed it on Singpost haha.
Why she would tear the envelope and inspect the item again is beyond me. But one thing for sure is that she only had ONE piece and was trying her luck at scamming the others of their money on the pretext of lost mails. She honoured one deal and refunded another to make it seem more plausible that two other mails were lost. Brilliant plan, come I clap for you?
She probably felt that I wasn’t easy to mess with so she finally relented and refunded my money through 65Daigou.com, which she referred to as her “supplier”, because my parcel was suddenly in her letterbox. *scoffs* She took screenshots of the process but cropped out anything that hinted the actual source of the money. Gosh, I have never in my life seen such a blatant liar.
The last buyer, like myself, never received the parcel but with my guidance, she got her money back via ATM transfer (as doing so wouldn’t reveal her bank account number on the payee’s bank statements) after waiting for the parcel for three weeks. But it was through perseverance and endless arguments that she finally got what she wanted. Despite asking for a receipt of transfer, the scammer never provided any and hasn’t replied since.
After everyone had received their refund, Carousell finally got back to me to ask for an update. Although I have no concrete evidence that she scams, I did manage to raise a lot of doubts about the seller which convinced the admin that she’s dishonest. They have since removed the scammer’s listings from the search engine and are now in the process of suspending her account.
First, you need to be aware of the tactics that scammers deploy to hook their victims. It’s always the same modus operandi but people never fail to fall for them.. which I totally understand because we all want to get the best deals possible. I have seen many people avoid online shopping altogether because their experiences had been tainted by scams and frauds but these can be prevented if you are more street smart (it can be inculcated!). Keep your guards up if:
1. Prices are too good to be true
In order to get your moolah, scammers have to first manipulate you into their traps and one way to do so is set their prices as reasonably low as possible to avoid arousing suspicion. They are not priced too low but are definitely among the lowest in the market. This usually occurs for very popular items as they tend to attract more interested parties, thus pressurising everyone to make payment quicker. Also, if item (especially the popular ones which require immediate payment) doesn’t get “sold” within the day, it’s highly possible that seller is still waiting to defraud more people.
I’ve noticed a rising trend in scammers using bank accounts owned by third parties, more commonly Freight Forwarders like 65Daigou, to receive money from unknowing users (which they can later withdraw without leaving a trace). To better protect yourself from scammers, do refrain from transferring money to the following bank accounts:
– DBS Current 054-903335-9
– OCBC 514-772680-001
– UOB 388-302-811-0
As Carousell is widely use by casual sellers, anybody who provides a CORPORATE bank account (e.g. POSB Current, DBS Current – these are typically operated by businessmen and organisations for commercial use) for money transfer should raise a red flag!
2. Seller only mails and never meets
I know of honest sellers who practise this but it’s no doubt one distinctive characteristic of scammers who obviously do not want to be identified. They will never agree to your meetup requests even if you’re willing to travel to their convenience, or pay them to come to you. They give all sorts of excuses to deter you from opting for registered postage so that you’d go with normal postage in the end.
Yes, you can ask for mailing proof like a snapshot of the parcel with affixed stamps, or a Certificate of Posting (COP) but c’mon… envelopes can be reused, address can be overwritten with a new one. Who knows what the seller does with the parcel after sending you the so-called proof? She can just happily chuck it aside while laughing all the way to the bank.
And in case you didn’t know, a COP does not mean anything. You pay S$0.20 for that yet still have to drop the parcel into the post box yourself. I have first-hand experience so I’m definitely not writing rubbish. I was so appalled! Ridiculous right? What’s the point of buying a COP when I can just walk away without mailing out the parcel?
Hence, many people now prefer video proof (i.e. taking video of the mailing process), Make sure you ask for a clear still shot of the address on the parcel before he/she drops it into the post box. But think about it, if the seller is really out to scam, will this person send you any proof ultimately? No.
3. Seller denies responsibility for all lost mails
This is usually stated on the seller’s profile as part of his/her “terms and conditions” which I feel are heavily abused by so many people (especially the younger users who have zilch understanding of the law) these days. I know some people resort to doing this to protect themselves but if your parcels frequently go missing, don’t you think you should stop mailing and meet up instead? Or maybe just make registered postage compulsory? Why subject yourself to scrutiny when you know that your parcels will most probably get lost?
*shrugs shoulders* I do not have that silly clause in my terms and conditions, because my mails never go missing and I have absolute faith in Singpost lol. Plus, I take the initiatives to send mailing proofs even if I’m not told to do so. However if they do (which would only happen for low-cost/smaller items as they are strictly mail-only) get lost, I may, at my discretion, bear some responsibility by doing a partial refund or mailing out a replacement. But personally I don’t think parcels would be lost if you’ve duly written the addresses correctly and properly secured it. It’s not like you’re operating a blogshop business that you have to send out hundreds of parcel everyday. What’s the probability of losing the one and only parcel that you’ve mailed out?
Hence, I conclude that the term “Not liable for lost mails” are only used by people who always lose their parcels.
Just like the scammer I dealt with, not only did she not take the slightest bit of responsibility, she even pointed fingers at me for not opting for registered postage. That was her immediate reaction, like she had already planned to respond that way if someone confronts her about the lost mail. Pfft. Dishonest much.
4. Seller entices and reassures you unnecessarily
“I have many other interested parties!!”
“I have only one piece left!!”
“Don’t worry, I don’t scam!” although you’ve never hinted at any doubts about the seller’s trustworthiness.
These are some words commonly used by scammers to rob you the ability to consider. They make you go into a state of hysteria and worry that other buyers would beat you to buying it. Take a deep breath, read the seller’s reviews and access his/her credibility. Most importantly, trust your instincts. If you sense something amiss, don’t be afraid to reject the deal and do not succumb to temptation.
Also, do not assume that the seller is legitimate just because he or she had registered the business with ACRA. That does not prove the honesty of the seller. ACRA registration is not difficult at all as you’d only need your Singpass and S$50 for registration fee. I’m sure you’re able to name some registered dishonest companies. If they can cheat, why wouldn’t ACRA-registered Carousellers?
After the above incident, I am now more wary of people with negative and (sometimes) neutral feedback that write about mails being lost. I assess those without feedback as well by looking at their sold items and join date.
5. Seller does not have real-life pictures of product
Never believe if seller says that the item is “true to picture”. We all know that pictures can be digitally enhanced, and studio lightings (for stock photos) can saturate or brighten the colours of apparels. The only way to find out how they really look like before paying is by looking at real-life pictures (if you opt for mailing). How hard is it to take a simple picture of the item with your phone, seriously? There’s a reason why Carousell was developed, to ease the trouble of uploading pictures on the computer before you can finally post them up on a classifieds site! So it’s very strange if the seller can’t provide any additional pictures. Is he or she hiding something from you? Does he or she really have the item?
Rest assured that you’re not alone as a typical (or veteran) scammer wouldn’t only strike once. They are so hard up that they would try to cheat as much money as possible so you can be sure that there are many other victims around. Do not 打草惊蛇 (act rashly and alert the enemy) and accuse anyone without evidence. If you suspect that you’ve been scammed,
1. Approach the seller
Ask questions that you know would contradict the facts and use this against him/her later. Like my example above, I asked if everyone else had received their romper and she said “yes” when it’s not the case! However this only works if the seller doesn’t disappear into thin air.
2. Conduct underground investigation
Lol, this sounds like some crime show (which I’m so obsessed with right now yay Hong Kong drama) but it’s totally necessary because you cannot expect the authorities to do everything for you. Start by Googling the scammer’s username which won’t give you results 99% of the time because they can assume a different identity each time they plot to cheat. The only thing that DOES NOT change is the bank account number. Other details which you can try searching are telephone numbers, e-mail and residential addresses (for trades). Document your findings and use them to support your case later.
3. Gather as many victims as possible
Some people may not be aware that they had been scammed because they chose to believe the conman, that the parcel was lost. It’s only after you’ve semi-exposed the scam (without revealing the scammer yet) would they realise the truth. Take this opportunity to talk to them and gather as much evidence as possible. Get someone to head the discussion on how to deal with the scammer. Once you feel that it’s enough, you can confront the scammer or bring it up to the relevant authorities. If you know where the scammer studies or works at, lodge a complaint to the management (that was what I intended to do until I received my refund). If you have the scammer’s address, better yet, pay her a visit as a group. But please, no violence!
4. Report to Carousell admin
Honestly, they can’t do much because the conduct of sellers is beyond their control. The most they can do is to e-mail the seller to ask for a follow-up, and/or suspend the seller’s account. If the seller doesn’t reply, I’m afraid their effort ends there.
5. Make a Police report
Only escalate the matter if the scammer refuses to do anything. But making a report is a long and tedious process which doesn’t guarantee results (much to the advantage of the scammer) unless it involves a LARGE amount or many victims. Encourage everyone to file a report using the same reference number to show that the cases are related. An alternative would be to lodge a claim with the Small Claims Tribunal though this should be the last resort if all else fails.
That’s all I have to say! I hope this post serves as a helpful guide to anyone who has fallen prey to scams. As much as I’d love to help everyone, time does not give me the luxury to be involved in your investigation. However, I’m open to any questions so please feel free to drop me a message if you have any queries. Please also acknowledge that I am not an expert in this area so do consider thoroughly before heeding my advice. I won’t be responsible for any undesirable outcome.
Thanks for reading everyone! ❤