With Africa experiencing an e-Commerce revolution, more and more African consumers are looking for ways to protect themselves against scammers. According to Cristobal Alonso, CEO of MOBOfree, “African consumers need to adopt some key habits in order to avoid fraudsters.”
Tips on how to shop safely on an online social marketplace:
- Keep things local. Meet the seller in person, check the item and make sure you are satisfied with it before you make a payment.
- Do not pay in advance, not even for delivery. Buyers – don’t make any payments before receiving an item. Sellers – don’t send an item before receiving payment. Exchange item and payment at the same time.
- Always meet in a safe, public location. Before meeting, try to collect as much information as possible about the individual you are going to meet.
- Never give out financial information. This includes bank account details, eBay/PayPal information, and any other information that could be misused.
- Buy and sell only on the most trusted marketplaces with robust security measures. Avoid those that have no content monitoring or clearly outlined security measures.
- Use common sense. If the deal looks too good to be true – it is most likely a scam. Nobody sells new cars for half the price or new iPhones for 200 Nairas.
Most of the local classified players have the standard safety measures in place: the possibility to report a scam or rate a user; safety tips visible for all visitors, etc. But reality shows that such measures are far from enough.
“At MOBOfree, we have a wide range of unique measures, which makes MOBOfree the safest and most trusted marketplace in Nigeria, Uganda and other African countries. We protect our users by ensuring that only honest, real people are buying and selling on our platform,” says Cristobal Alonso.
“Our priority is to eliminate scam BEFORE it becomes visible to buyers; before someone gets scammed, before they lose money or report suspicious behavior. At MOBOfree, we don’t just play the “you inform us, we react” game. Such a basic security measure as the possibility to report ads is not enough to guarantee the security of the African consumer,” says the CEO of MOBOfree.
MOBOfree has a special automated algorithm identifying scam behavior. He adds, “You might be surprised but 90% of scammers have the same specific behavior patterns on our platform and in many cases we can say a person is carrying out or going to carry out some form of illegal activity even before seeing the content of his or her classifieds.”
MOBOfree also has a dedicated quality control team which reviews every single advert manually before launching it live. “I can confirm that up to 30% of the classifieds submitted to MOBOfree are removed during quality check so they never become visible to our visitors. There is a real risk on platforms that do not implement such advanced security measures,” says Mr. Alonso.
In addition to that, MOBOfree has an internal rating system allowing buyers to rate sellers and report suspicious/illegal activities as well as a phone safety hotline so that any issues can be reported immediately.
MOBOfree recently launched the MOBOguard program, allowing their users to search for scammers, report them, and get a reward for it.
“Almost 1/3 of our user database joined the program, so when someone asks how many people are working on MOBOfree’s scam control, I joke that our security team is over 1 million strong,” says Mr. Alonso.
According to MOBOfree, the car classifieds category is extremely popular among fraudsters in Nigeria, generating approximately 3 times more fraudulent classifieds in comparison to other categories.
For such specific cases, MOBOfree has a dedicated team of offline agents. “If we notice that someone is uploading big volumes of car classifieds, our dedicated cars category manager goes to meet the car dealer live to ensure that he or she is a real person with real cars. Teams of MOBOfree agents are also proactively working with all the largest car dealers – meeting them in person, checking every car and taking photographs of the cars themselves to ensure that car buyers on MOBOfree get access to trustworthy car classifieds,” explains MOBOfree’s CEO.