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Man falls for scam on online advertisement website

KARACHI: It is possible to buy everything from a pair of shoes to a plasma television with a mere click of a button on the internet, some people are unfortunate to be at the unlucky end of the deal and end up losing money in online scams.

This is the story of a Karachi resident, Syed Furqan Ali, who fell for a car deal on an online advertisement website, OLX.com.  Ali, who works as an assistant manager for software development at a private firm in Karachi, saw an advertisement for a $6,000 car in the US that was being sold for a $1,000 down payment, which included the cost of import duties and shipping.

There was a Skype ID, u.stations, given with the advertisement that Ali used to reach out to the advertiser. “I added that person on Skype and asked about the offer,” he said, adding that the man on the other end of the line sounded American and said that his name was Mark.

Ali was told that this was a ‘damaged gift scheme’ and a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity that anyone can receive on their CNIC. Ali found the following address: 1010, 3rd St Monessen, Pennsylvania 15062 USA and a helpline number, 800-806-900, which he realised later was not valid.

“Initially, he told me that I only have to pay $1,000 and the remaining $5,000 once the car arrives at my doorstep,” said Ali. ‘Mark’ also gave him contact details of his clients in Pakistan so he can check his credibility. One of the clients told Ali that he imported a Suzuki Swift from the US in a similar manner.

“The guy [I spoke on the phone with] assured me and I decided to pay $1,000 via Western Union,” he explained, adding that Mark kept asking him to pay more over one pretext or the other. Ali only learned that he had been fooled when the car did not arrive on the date that was promised. “After the deadline, I inquired about the company and found out that the car company was fake,” he explained. Ali plans to reach out to the cybercrime cell and register a complaint with them.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th,  2015.

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