PARKTOWN – The Management of the Police in Gauteng would like to warn the public of an increase in social media-related online shopping incidents that have resulted in unsuspecting buyers falling victim to hijackings and robberies.
The 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) has brought about platforms for online shopping for the consumer’s convenience. However, there are criminal elements that have also developed in that space. In Gauteng, online shopping scams have become prevalent in Winterveld, SAPS Loate policing precinct, Tshwane District.
The modus operandi used by the groupings that specialise in these scams involves the lure of social media users that conduct purchases through Facebook’s e-commerce site ‘Marketplace’ where goods and services are sold.
The “seller” arranges a meeting place and time with an interested buyer, who would then be met at the agreed location by a young man. The young man would then take the buyer to a secluded place where they are supposedly going to meet the “seller”. It is then at that second location where the victim would be accosted by armed men who would then rob the victim of his belongings and force the victim to transfer money through his/her banking application before the suspects fled the scene. At times, the victim would also be robbed of his/her vehicle.
From January 2022 until October 2022, police have arrested thirty-six (36) suspects for armed robbery and eleven (11) suspects for car hijacking.
The public is therefore strongly warned to refrain from looking for bargains on social media platforms. Those that utilise online shopping should only do so through reputable companies or applications and should be vigilant:
• Always approach a prospective online buyer or seller with caution;
• Verify the buyer or seller’s online profile;
• Do not disclose any personal information about yourself;
• Avoid meeting a prospective buyer or seller in secluded areas, rather than in public spaces;
• If you have any doubts about the buyer or seller rather end your conversation online.
The public is reminded to report any crime to their nearest police station, and to give crime tip-offs by calling the SAPS Crime Stop number 08600 10111 or via MySAPS App.
Source: South African Police Service