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Calls for improving OLX shoppers' security after man’s death

Sat, Mar. 10, 2018
CAIRO – 10 March 2018: The happiness of Egyptian engineering student Mohamed Abdelaziz, on finding a used laptop at a good price on popular online marketplace OLX, transformed into sheer misery for his family after he was murdered by the fake sellers.

The police managed to arrest the three murderers, who confessed that they set this false advertisement with the aim to steal money from the buyer, as they were in need of money. “After discovering that it was a theft attempt, the young man tried to resist us, but it ended by killing him and stealing the money in addition to his mobile phone,” they said.

The story of the murdered young man went viral on social media sites, as the users of such shopping sites started angrily questioning the security procedures applied to protect the dealers from any harm or fraud.

“To place an advertisement on the OLX site, you are only required to enter the description of the item and photo, if it’s available, in addition to some basic information about yourself: name, city, mobile phone number and email address,” Ashraf Abbas, who used to sell used items on shopping sites, told Egypt Today.

The purchase deal then continues between the buyer and seller via email or phone number without any interference or observation of the site moderator, Abbas said. The two parties set a date and place of meeting to complete the purchase operation.

Tasnim Mohamed, who tried to sell her used wedding dress on OLX, said, “It was the first time to use a shopping site; I entered the required fields that included my phone number, and since then I have received an enormous amount of harassing phone calls from guys. It was an awful experience that I will never repeat.”

As a buyer, Mohamed’s experience was not so much different. He said that he bought a mobile phone from OLX and after returning home, he found that it was a well-made fake, not an original one. “Of course, I called the seller hundreds of times, but I received no answer, so I surrendered. It was fraud.”

OLX mentioned in the site guidelines that it has no control over and does not guarantee the quality, safety or legality of items/properties/services advertised, the truth or accuracy of users’ content or listings, the ability of sellers to sell items, the ability of buyers to pay for items, or that a buyer or seller will actually complete a transaction or return an item. It is the buyer's responsibility to check the items/properties/services before completing the transaction.

“Please note that we as a classified platform have no authority on the ads posted and we do not own them; we are merely a platform where buyers and sellers make transactions without our interference,” it said.

However, OLX stated that it can help in fraud cases, as it’s available to provide the buyer with all the data that he/she requires helping getting items/money back.

“As we are trying to keep our users privacy, we cannot release any data concerning a user to another without a legal warrant, meaning you have to report the fraud to the local authorities, such as the police station, and the police department concerned to such cases have to contact us requesting such data; only then can we release all the data they have requested, such as (IP, Dates, Email,... etc.),” OLX stated.

The mentioned procedures are to help the user to get his rights after the fraud, not to protect them from the operation itself, Facebook users posted angrily. They saw that no safety procedures are mentioned on the site to protect the lives of the users, whether buyer or seller.

Maged Mesallum posted on “The Power of Social Media Group” asking users to present suggestions that can be offered to OLX in order improve its security measures to protect its users. The OLX administration declared that it is following the post and the user’s suggestions, and they will announce a change in policy during the upcoming days to protect users’ safety.

Maged Mesallum posted on “The Power of Social Media Group” asking users to present suggestions that can be offered to OLX in order improve its security measures to protect its users

Marwan Hazem said, “OLX should have offices throughout the governorates where the buyer and seller can meet to make the transaction. As for the purchase operation of apartments and cars, a representative from the OLX site has to meet with the two parties to assure their security. They could add fees for this service, and I don’t think users will disagree to pay money in return for their safety.”

Another user said that the site should send a confirmation password to the user in order to verify his information, and through the phone number you would receive the number of identification card and his location.

To solve the problem, an electronics store declared that it will open its branches to be a meeting point for users of OLX, providing them a public place to complete transactions safely.

OLX Group is a global online marketplace, operating in 45 countries and is the largest online classified ads company in Pakistan, Brazil, India, Bulgaria and Poland.

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