Internet sites warn users of fraudsters

The rising popularity of buying and selling used goods over the Internet has brought with it an increasing number of fraudsters. In a case being prosecuted at Luleå district court, con-men are accused of tricking 304 people into paying over 700,000 kronor for electronic goods that never showed up.

Swedes spend over 100 billion kronor last year on Blocket, the country’s most popular buy-and-sell Internet site. With a number of other sites, such as auction site Tradera also proving popular, criminals have been tempted to take advantage of the industry. The risk that users could be selling stolen and non-existent goods has led the site owners to act.

“We are working with the police in large areas of the country,” said Jesper Lilliesköld, head of security at Blocket.

“In this case they received information from us that allowed them to trace the advertisers and see that this was an organised operation.”

Blocket has a ‘security centre’ section dispensing good advice and giving warnings for customers. Purchasers are warned to be especially careful when buying popular electronic goods, particularly new mobile phones, flat-screen TVs and laptop computers.

Jesper Lilliesköld advises that people buying goods in private sales online should never pay in advance, be aware of offers that are too good to be true, and to always demand a receipt, especially for electronic goods.

“People should also be aware of the change in the law that means that one can no longer buy stolen goods in good faith,” he said.

Blocket and Tradera both say that customers should use special online payment services. These allow the buyer to wait until the goods arrive before releasing payment to the seller.