Beware this online store selling “recovered loot”

A new fake online shop is scamming South Africans out of money by claiming to sell stolen goods recovered from the looters who ransacked stores in July’s unrest.

Bulksales.store was brought to the attention of MyBroadband after one of our forum members asked whether it was a scam site.

At the time of the post, only one Hellopeter rating was available for the site — a negative review from a customer claiming to have lost money and stating that the store was a scam.

An investigation of the site showed that it was a clean, professional-looking design that passed for a small online tech retailer in South Africa.

It included Home, Store, About, and Contact Us Sections and had working search, online chat, and account creation functionalities.

Most notable were the supposed huge discounts on premium tech products, which included products like an Xbox Series X selling for R6,000, a discount of 50% from its normal price R12,000.

The dirt-cheap prices immediately raised our suspicions and the site’s odd claim that it was selling the items “so that all looted store (sic) can get their insurance payouts” set off a blaring alarm.

Major retailers like Game, Makro, Incredible Connection, HiFi Corp, Matrix and iStore were shown on the page, implying that the recovered loot was originally from these stores.

However, Massmart, which owns and operates Game and Makro, told MyBroadband it was not reselling any of its recovered goods stolen during the unrest.

“Our assessment is that there is a high probability that bulksales.store is a scam site. It is certainly not in any way connected to Massmart or to our trading brands,” the company said.

Incredible Connection and HiFi Corp owner, JD Group, also confirmed it was not selling any products associated with the looted stores in any capacity. It encouraged MyBroadband to investigate the store.

During our perusal of the site’s content, we found several obvious red flags that suggested it was not legitimate, including:

  • Contact Us section had a warehouse address which was actually an office space.
  • No contact number available, only an email address.
  • Plagiarised Terms and Conditions copied largely (83%) from a business-to-business marketplace called Lantador. This lists many more payment methods, including eBucks, Discovery Miles, Mobicred, and Masterpass, none of which were available on the store.
  • Suspicious Return/Refund section was generated using a generator tool.
  • Expensive courier options with a R1,800 Express option.
  • Unusually long delivery times ranging from 3 (Express) to 31 days (Standard).

We decided to go through the buying process to see exactly how the site was getting money from unsuspecting victims.

After choosing an Xbox Series X and going to our shopping cart, we provided details like our name, email address, phone number, and address.

Seeing as we weren’t planning to make an actual purchase, we provided “inaccurate” details. There was no verification process to check whether the details were legitimate.

We then had to choose delivery or self-pickup. The former would take anywhere between 3 days and 31 days, depending on our choice of courier. Apparently, a PostNet courier would cost R250, which was much more than the actual advertised price of R99 for items below 5kg.

After choosing our shipping option, we were directed to the payments page.

We could choose from two methods — card payment via Yoco’s payment platform or Instant EFT bank transfer to a Capitec Bank account.

The Yoco payment option’s URL revealed the payment would be made to a company called “Blue Mark Gateway”.

A CIPC Bizportal database search showed the company was registered on 28 April 2021 with one director listed — Ntsoaki Portia Tamane.

Yoco payment gateway shows name of the business in the URL.
Blue Mark Gateway CIPC details.

After reporting the site to Yoco, the company said it had suspended the merchant, and the matter was being investigated.

The platform said it terminates services that are found to have committed suspected fraud and places them on a blacklist of merchants on Mastercard’s Alert to Control High-Risk Merchants (MATCH) list.

Capitec Bank did not respond to our query over why it was allowing a scam site to use one of its bank accounts.

A day after we first asked the bank for comment, the bank transfer payment option was no longer available on the site.

A few days after this, however, it had returned, with a new Capitec Bank account number listed.

The Yoco card payment option had been removed at the time of publication.

After receiving no feedback to queries sent to Bulk Sales’ email address, we managed to get a contact number from an online chat agent.

However, upon calling this number, we were greeted with a voice message stating “the number you have dialled has been cancelled”.

Notably, the phone number was listed on Truecaller as “Scam”.

Now read: The one thing you should not buy from Amazon in South Africa

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Beware this online store selling “recovered loot”