CASE: A paradise for scammers or a site full of fantastic finds?

Electronic commerce has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years. Sadly, online scams have increased at an equally rapid rate. The unfortunate fact is that faceless online transactions can attract dishonest operators, which presents challenges for the developers of online services. Who bears the responsibility and how can the reliability of online sales and purchases be improved?

Alma Media’s website has offered a popular online platform for consumer-to-consumer commerce for over three years. During these years, we have observed a noticeable increase in scams. We constantly monitor the site, removing inappropriate items and terminating the accounts of dishonest users. There are a few tell-tale signs of scams: the item must be sent by post instead of being picked up in person, the price may be suspiciously low and the picture for a product advertised as unused has been copied from the manufacturer’s website. We continuously screen the adverts on to do our best to ensure the honesty of transactions.

The ultimate responsibility, however, lies with the consumer. The online marketplace is simply a platform for buying and selling. Sellers can sign in by using their online bank details as verification of their identity, in which case their true identity is known at least to the marketplace service provider. Prospective buyers are also encouraged to review sellers’ feedback from other users, if there is any on the system.

When scams do occur, we make every effort to help. Fortunately scams constitute only a small, albeit fairly widely publicised, percentage of online transactions. The vast majority of transactions are completed reliably. When reliability issues are taken into consideration in the development of an online service and buyers refrain from transferring funds in advance to suspicious sellers, users can engage in online shopping without needing to worry. The mission of is to help its visitors make fantastic finds, and we strive to keep this promise each and every day.

Riikka Wulff