A number auctioneers have fallen victim to online scams, and buyers are encouraged to verify the bona fides of online auctioneers before making a purchase.
The South African Institute of Auctioneers (SAIA) warns that scammers are cloning websites and social media pages of reputable auctioneers and persuading people to pay for items they have not seen.
SAIA member and auctioneer Martin Dibowitz says scammers have come up with a number of schemes to get people to part with their money. Some of the scams include:
- Persuading people to advertise cars online with a promise of commission on the sale. Once the buyer has paid, both buyer and seller are left empty handed and the criminal disappears without trace.
- Offering to pay people to open a retail bank account on behalf of the scammer. The account is then linked to the scammer’s cellphone numbers.
- Registering with an auctioneer using a false name. The scammer gets their victim to pay a deposit into the auctioneer’s bank account and then contacts the auctioneer to request a refund, claiming the deposit was made in error.
- Luring desperate job seekers to sell vehicles on social media platforms. The social media accounts are cloned but people think they’re employed by a legitimate company doing remote work. Once the ‘employee’ has secured deposits which are paid into the scammer’s accounts, they try to collect their promised commission from the auctioneer. It then becomes clear that they’ve been used in a scam.
Scams are well-planned and have caused SAIA members reputational harm and spread distrust in the industry. These pointers will help you to identify whether a deal is legitimate or possibly a scam:
- Items on auction can only be purchased in the auction and cannot be reserved to be purchased before or after the auction.
- Verification and viewing of the assets is key – you have to be present and assess the asset thoroughly.
- Confirm and verify banking details.
- Verify the credentials of the auctioneer with SAIA.
- Auctions are transparent and simple – auctioneers will never request a viewing fee or payment upfront; they will only request a refundable deposit to register to bid in the auction.
SAIA has an open-door policy and is willing to assist in the public verify the details of auctioneers.
WhatsApp: 081 410 2622
Phone: 021 813 6342