Buyer beware: New app aims to protect online shoppers from fraud
Published Sunday, October 8, 2017 11:49PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, October 10, 2017 1:28PM EDT
The last time Aurelie Saiz purchased something she found through online classifieds, she was duped.
She purchased a bicycle that quickly fell to pieces and when she tried to contact the vendor, he wouldn’t return her calls.
“He just hung up,” she recalls. “I had no name, I had a phone number but he wouldn't answer back."
Kevin Perard’s negative online shopping experience happened when he tried looking for an apartment online. He says was asked for a deposit, but it turns out, there was no apartment.
“At the end I discovered it was a scam and he was just asking me for money,” he said.
So Saiz and Perard joined forces and created an app to try and take the guesswork out of using online classifieds for shopping.
The secondhand shopping app they started is called Nelinelo, short for ‘new life, new love’.
“In the beginning we were introducing it as it as the social network for classified ads,” Perard said.
Their aim is to create a safe space where people can buy and sell goods, and even make friends.
But they say Nelinelo's greatest asset lies in its increased security features.
Seller profiles are linked to verified Facebook accounts, their photo is posted, and buyers are encouraged to leave comments or reviews.
The majority of websites that host online classified ads don’t have anyone actively policing them, and vendors can easily disappear after a bad sale.
In an email, Quebec’s consumer protection office gave this statement:
"There is reason to be suspicious of individuals whose identity cannot be ascertained or whose address is unknown. Be wary if a seller insists that the transaction be done in a public place."
The rationale is that if the transaction is made in a public place and the item is defective, it is difficult to trace the seller to an address.