Future of e-commerce bleak as fraudsters frustrate market growth
By Oludare Mayowa
The outbreak of coronavirus pandemic had encouraged many Nigerians to move their transactions online as the restrictions imposed by government to contain the spread of the disease limits physical shopping by many consumers.
Many companies continue to operate the bulk of their activities from offsite despite the easing of the lockdown by the government in some locations in a bid to sustain their business and ensure that the restrictions have no significant effect on their operations.
Equally, some providers of goods and services have increased their presence online due to the surge in demand by customers who readily find it easy and convenient to embrace eCommerce in this season.
However, a new growing trend is emerging which may negatively impact the operators of eCommerce as fraudsters and their allied are eroding the confidence of both the sellers and buyers in online transactions.
Investigations showed that many people have been defrauded through their patronage of online merchants as they fell into the hands of fraudsters who disguised as genuine traders.
A lady who claimed to have purchased her wedding dress from a seemingly reputable merchant online has since cried out for help as she has not been able to get her purchases delivered since.
According to the lady, the owner of the boutique has since blocked access to her through her social media page and phone since she transferred money to her and she failed to deliver as scheduled.
There are many others who have in recent time complain about the activities of fraudsters who disguised by using the profile and names of other merchants to defraud their victims.
Narrating the story of how a lady was defrauded by a fake eCommerce merchant, Nike Adegoke, an Ibadan based boutique owner and eCommerce merchant said the fraudster has since blocked the victim whose wedding is around the corner.
Adegoke said the growing trend remains unchecked because often the financial institutions in the country are not doing enough to help victims to recover their money.
She counseled buyers to be smart and look out for tell tales that could expose such fraudsters when transacting business with them online.
However, from all indications, the fraudulent merchants are mainly unregistered individuals who usually claimed to be selling particular goods online, using social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and other platforms to perpetuate their crime.
There have been stories also of many buyers of items from eCommerce merchants and after such are delivered on the condition to pay on delivery only for such merchants to be outwitted by the fraudulent buyers.
Experts are saying that buyers should do their due diligence on the online outlets they want to patronize before doing business with them to avoid regret.
Customers are advised to double-check on such merchants through online verifications on the identity of the person behind the business and probably cross reference from those who may have patronised such merchants before parting with their money.
Check the bank account name and verify if it tallies with the name of the business or the person claiming to be the merchant before going ahead with such transactions.
The contact address provided by the merchants can also be verified through Google to ensure the existence of such location and if the location is used for such purposes.
They also advised that victims can also contact their banks and the banks used by the fraudsters or report such cases to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) consumer protection department to get reprieve.
However, victims should speak out and publicise the names and identity of the fraudsters and their social media handles to help put a check on the activities of fraudsters and also help prevent others from falling victims to the same scam.#GFD