Another OLX Looting Incident from Rawalpindi Surfaces

Buying and selling through classified websites is getting more dangerous, especially in a country where individuals lack awareness and online frauds are on the rise.

On top of this, if anonymous ad posting without any kind of verification is allowed then you can imagine the amount of risks involved with online buying and selling.

It was just during this week that a group was nabbed in Karachi for looting commoners through OLX ads and today we have another incident from Rawalpindi where a student was looted when he posted an ad on OLX for selling his used laptop.

Anonymous ad posting without any kind of verification increases the risks involved with online buying and selling

Hamza Sharif, a university student from Westridge Rawalpindi, posted an ad on OLX for selling his used laptop. He was soon contacted by a so called doctor and both decided to meet at an agreed location on main Peshawar road, Rawalpindi, one of the busiest areas of the city.

Hamza was greeted by two men at the specified time and location explaining that Doctor had an urgent work and they were sent to examine the laptop and take it to the doctor.

To cut the story short, both the men took hold of laptop and fled the scene with Hamza having nothing in hands.

Hamza told ProPakistani that he had registered an FIR in Westridge police station, however there’s nothing much he is expecting from the police.

OLX’s Criminal Silence on Looting Incidents

We understand that there would be countless other unreported cases where sellers are dodged and looted by the criminals.

Not to mention, this has been happening for a long now and despite the growing number of looting incidents, OLX — claimed to be the largest classified website of the country — is apparently taking no measure to deal with the situation.

Which makes sense as there’s no cyber law in the country and there’s no one to ask or question OLX for the type of business they are doing here.

But as a good gesture and to safeguard its users, OLX must take the responsibility and take necessary steps. One of which is explained below.

Anonymous Users are the Real Trouble

With biometric verification of mobile phone users, a cell phone number has now become a real identification for everyone. With a verified mobile phone number, you can not only contact someone but law enforcement agencies can get hold of his entire family background (through NADRA) in case of any misdeeds.

OLX, we wonder why, never verifies the mobile phone numbers of its users as compared to various other classified websites that authenticate cell phone numbers (by sending a verification code in SMS) before taking the ad live.

With SMS authentication of sellers and buyers, classified websites can confirm that its users are legitimate individuals. Not only this, they can also acquire complete contact details of buyers and sellers if ever required.

OLX can make it mandatory for buyers and sellers to verify their phone numbers before they are able to post ads or to view contact details of a seller.

Not to be mentioned, if OLX has verified mobile phone buyers and sellers, then this information can be shared with LEAs in case of any issues who can easily get to the culprits as each phone number is verified and and can be traced back to the owner.

We understand that number of ads posted on classified website with such SMS authentication might get cut but classified websites will get cleaned up to ultimately offer quality ads and more safer environment for the buyers and sellers.

Currently anyone can post anyone’s cell number for an extremely lucrative ad to make the life of victim a hell with several several hundred calls from buyers

Another Plus of SMS Authentication

Anonymous ad posting not only increases the risks involved with buying and selling but the fact that any one can post anyone’s cell phone number for his/her ad is very alarming.

Currently anyone can go ahead and post anyone’s cell number for an extremely lucrative ad to make the life of victim a hell with several dozen or even several hundred calls from buyers.

SMS authentication of users will get this resolved as well.

Tech reporter with over 10 years of experience, founder of ProPakistani.PK


  • Well written article and definitely an issue to reckon with, but i don’t see how phone number verification can avoid these sort of ‘theft’ incidents.. The major responsibility to stop these incidents is on the Police and yes, Sim verification will definitely help a lot in it. What sellers can do in these cases is to give the fraudster’s number (the one he contacted seller with) to police and then it should be their responsibility to track and catch the convict. Again, sites can’t do much about it.

    • aamir7

      If sites implement SMS verification of ad posters, then they can give contact details to LEAs in case of any issues.

      Police can then nab the culprits through these phone numbers.

      I thought it was simple.

      • Chota

        Is case me student to verify hojata, lekin jisne loota usko kaha se pakarte ?

        • Umair A. Shahid

          Exactly. This is why this article doesn’t make any sense to me.

        • Waqas

          A solution to that:

          OLX should only reveal the seller’s mobile number to buyers who have created an account and gone through SIM verification process.

      • Wait a minute.. How are ad posters the culprits here? It’s about the buyers who are snatching stuff away.. How will verifying seller’s number help in catching an unidentified thief? Unless the seller gives the thief’s number to police!

        • Ali Asghar

          The point is that your number will not be used by another person for poting OLX Ads

          • That’s clearly not the point being conveyed in the article.

            • Ali Asghar

              It’s sir, as author mentioned that these criminals can use our mobile number to post ads, so in this case, OLX needs to bring verification system to register numbers before one can post ads.

      • Saif

        jis ki cheez chori hui usi pe security implement karwa do :)

        how efficient is to put security measure at owner’s (seller) end? This article makes no sense at all.

      • Stone

        The LEA can be provided the phone numbers that the thieves used to make contact with the seller and can be tracked down. The sellers number verification won’t do anything to stop such incidents. Secondly, why is it even the websites responsibility to check out who is buying the product, they can and should verify sellers to make sure nothing fake is beings sold.

        thirdly, the article seems hastily written and without the necessary proof reading as usual….

      • Ahmed

        I have developed an app to have buyers and sellers info before any purchase which can useful for LEAs and have contacted OLX in the past but got a negative reply back..If u have a right contact in OLX who may be interested then kindly let me know so it can help our web community.

        Regards

        Ahmed
        [email protected]

  • Saad R.

    Mobile number verification is must for online websites in Pakistan. These crimes should somewhat decrease once the verification process of SIMS is completed in April. Sad incident nonetheless.

  • Sibtain Reza

    This is really a serious matter and its is hurting our online e commerce industry which is at the developing stage in the current market scenario I would advise the OLX team to make the deals done at a place owned by OLX and shall give seller and buyer a room which will surely give the satisfaction and security to both the parties. For this service OLX team can also charge a small amount of charges for the maintenance of that location.

  • eyescreaman

    So if I post a legitimate(verified by my cell number) ad to sell something and the buyer gets away with with my stuff in a public place (just like the example in article) how is cellphone verification helping me?

    • aamir7

      in such situation the, police will nab the cellphone owner, who had verified his cell number. Just to let you know, in two months from now, every cell phone number will have a legitimate, traceable owner.

      • Chota

        And u think k jisne ye kaam krna hoga wo verified sim lega ? Pakistan ha ye, jugar chalta ha, 50 rupees me kisi b murda admi k name pe sim nikal skti ha ABI B.

        • samsam

          how can you support this?

  • Ejaz Ahmed

    What is the solution for the type robbery you have mentioned in your post?

    • aamir7

      Hazoor, robbery or any fraud can be avoided if you have verified mobile number of the person saved with you. Isn’t this simple?

      Its more like, there are less chances of anyone robbing a person who has his/her home address/

  • umair_shahid

    You are trying to highlight looting incidents through OLX by proposing a solution to an opposite problem.
    Even if your proposed solution was implemented, this incident couldn’t have been prevented since ads on olx are publicly accessible and unless mobile numbers are hidden and only to be seen by verified members.

  • Umair A. Shahid

    You are trying to highlight looting incidents through OLX by proposing a solution to an opposite problem.
    Even if your proposed solution was implemented, this incident couldn’t have been prevented since ads on olx are publicly accessible and unless mobile numbers are hidden and only to be seen by verified members.

  • Zain

    The next step is simple, these classified websites should restrict the seller and purchaser to be authorized members of the website. Buying and selling should initiate from legitimate messaging service governed by websites own server. Later, both the seller and purchaser can communicate over phone, if they wish. Everyone has smart phones with data and can have the websites app, just like whatsapp. Phone no. is a personal thing and website shouldn’t display it unless shared by the users.

    • Shahid Saleem

      Dumb idea.

      What next, we should authorized posting comments on blogs to only verified members of blogs? What do you think that will do to traffic on blog?

      Now imagine what it will do to a company site like OLX that depends on visitors (anonymous or otherwise)

      • anas qamar

        Although the idea would increase the security, it would reduce the amount of ads posted dramatically at first. But this authentication is only for things where one meets the other in real life, not for posting digital stuff online, so his idea is still not bad.

        • Shahid Saleem

          And how do you expect OLX to “verify” the real member details? Man, if every web site started doing that with every one of their members, THEIR RATES WILL GO UPPPPPP because the only safe way to verify is MANUALLY by HUMANS. And someone has to pay those people money for their jobs.

          Add human verification to the process, and suddenly it is not worth it to post on OLX.

          • anas qamar

            Now that we have verified sims, we can use the sms method to verify that it’s their numbers… This way, the person thinking to commit a crime would already have his identity exposed… (But obviously, our authority must be willing to catch the criminals, then only this can work)

  • DJ

    both buyer and seller should be register at Site (with their mobile numbers) and when deal is closed and they are going to meet each other website can develop mechanism where both users will be given a private key by which they can can verify each other also their should be ranking/reporting system for users to identify trusted or Fake sellers.

    • Waqas

      too complex. just give seller’s number to SIM authorized buyer

  • Zeeshan

    Ridiculous! Olx doesn’t have any responsibility in this case. Craigslist works in the same way. Instead of discouraging the convenience of buying and selling through classifieds online, this article should have aimed at LEAs role if something like this happens.

    • ysk

      This is not US. You have to work with ground realities. I can list a number of things that are working smooth in other countries but wont in Pak

  • uneasy

    We cant stop crime. We can only make it more difficult and detectable. Ultimate responsibility is that of LEAs which are too busy in guarding our monarches and revolutionaires alike.

  • Sulaiman Lalani

    crime can happen anywhere, its all about you whether you r a victim by posting ad online or in newspapers . the situation should be handled by smartly & you should be smart in terms of frauds

  • mani

    simple solution. all olx users must create a profile and choose a username before being able to buy or sell anything, which shud include the mandatory fone verification. So if a buyer has to contact a seller he will have to register an account inc. his sim verification and obviously the seller wont b able to post an add unless he verifies his sim. OLX must arrange a partnership with PTA who then can readily trace the wrongdoers.

  • asad

    Hi,

    I read an ad on olx by jenny peck: [email protected] asking for paid content writers to work for her. I applied for the job and got shortlisted. She clarified in the beginning that she would make
    payments on a particular date, 27th of September 2015. From that date on wards,
    she did not apply. It’s been two weeks now. I have been scammed for about $250
    now. It is really disappointing. Ad ID is :
    815648713 … I don’t know what to do now.

  • A better website where there is no need to meet the seller in person can help in eliminating such frauds. eBids Pakistan provides the platform for individuals and businesses to list their items for sale. Buyers can check the listing and give their offer. On acceptance item can be sent to the buyer through Cash on Delivery.