In 2018, Helmut Bracun moved over his entire family from Austria to Dubai to dive headfirst into a new job at the UAE’s largest classifieds platform, dubizzle. As ‘General Manager of Goods, Jobs and Community’ (quite the mouthful) he is now responsible for one of dubizzle’s most important challenges, Trust and Safety. It is a topic that has gained a lot of popularity, as companies around the world face online shopping and phishing scams.
Let’s catch up with Helmut to learn what we can do to avoid becoming a victim to an online scam.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, Helmut.
I am an Austrian with Croatian roots, trying to combine the best of both worlds and I’m not just talking about skiing and football :-).
What does a typical day at dubizzle look like?
Every day is different, as my team and I work on making dubizzle safer for our users. We are constantly evolving our safety strategy and initiatives and making changes on our website and app, to make it harder for scam artists to misuse the community platform. One of these initiatives is sending out informational e-mails to make users aware of possible threats.
Why is Trust & Safety such an important topic for dubizzle?
Our users and clients rely heavily on the safety of the platform so everyone has a good experience. Frauds and scams are a global issue – they are the digital version of organized crime. Banks, governments and all businesses with a digital footprint, including us, have to be on top of our technology game to fight this new kind of crime. Scams today have become increasingly sophisticated, and yet the easiest way for them to succeed is by targeting people. Keeping this in mind, it’s important that we are aware that we are all vulnerable and possible targets.
What are the 3 most common scams you see that people should look out for?
The scam – “Asking for a friend”:
The most common scam we see is buyers asking sellers to send an item in return for paying the money online. As soon as you have sent the item, you will never hear from them again. Quite often, scam artists pretend that they’re buying the item for a friend or they’ll say that a friend will contact the seller to make the payment. In most of these situations, they’ll steer the conversation away from dubizzle Chat to email, Whatsapp or phone calls. Be extra aware of contact numbers that are not from the UAE.
We’ve seen several scams where scammers used Paypal or other money transfer services to act as though they transferred money to your account. In some cases you’ll actually see the money in your account but that doesn’t mean it’s yours to keep. If the legitimate account holder reports unauthorized activity, the money can still be withdrawn from your account.
How to avoid this scam?
We urge users to keep the conversation with potential buyers on dubizzle Chat as much as possible and to meet the buyer in person to sell for cash.
The scam “Please pay upfront”:
A second common scam we have seen is the seller asking the buyer to make the entire or part of the payment upfront. Don’t fall for it. The item probably doesn’t exist and it’s likely you will never hear from them again.
How to avoid this scam?
Be sure you physically inspect the item yourself – or when talking about cars and properties, that you have the ownership legally confirmed by having the title deed or a certificate of ownership. For cars you can even use trusted services like dubizzle Pro.
The scam “The switch”:
A third popular scam amongst sellers is placing an ad with nice pictures and an enticingly low price on dubizzle. When you meet to make the payment and collect the item, they quickly switch it for a fake or faulty one. They could also be hiding the damages when handing it over.
How to avoid this scam?
Check the item thoroughly before handing over the money, take your time!
How does dubizzle fight scammers and spammers?
I’m afraid I have to leave a bit of mystery there. Scam artists and spammers might read this article and use it to improve their schemes. Suffice to say we have our team working constantly on this in many different ways.
How can our users help fight scammers and fraudsters?
There are so many things that you can do, but the most important thing people can do to protect themselves is to be aware and to be cautious.
- Don’t trust everybody by default. If something seems too good to be true, it very likely is!
- Use dubizzle Chat to communicate.
- Don’t send money or items upfront – meet your buyer or seller in person.
- Ask the person to identify him or herself
- Don’t let anybody put you under time pressure to decide on a purchase or act very fast, that is a typical trap.
- Focus on the deal and your safety, not on the stories you hear. Quite often the scam artists and spammers are very good storytellers. They can spin lies about anything and play with your emotions.
- Stay calm!
If you do notice anything suspicious, please report it here. We investigate every case and take the necessary steps to prevent these scams.
What’s your best advice for our users?
Treat everybody well and be polite but be vigilant when transacting online.
Have you ever experienced scams or other suspicious behavior on dubizzle? Help us in our fight against fraud and report it here. We’ll investigate the situation and take necessary steps so you won’t get affected. Thank you!