Online auctions: follow these tips to avoid scammers

Farmers should be wary of night auctioneers who have no intention of fulfilling their obligations to deliver goods. Often, these fake online auctions also offer alternative products that do not match customer offers.

This warning comes from the South African Auctioneers Institute (SAIA) who claim that there has also been a recent increase in problems relating to deposit refunds by bogus auctioneers.

SAIA reports that the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions have led to an unprecedented migration to online auctions as a way to sell anything from properties and cars to office furniture and even household items.

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Online Auctions: Eddie Prinsloo of Heuningkrans Farm near Smithfield in the Free State.  Photo: Twitter/Molatek
Eddie Prinsloo of Heuningkrans Farm near Smithfield in the Free State. Photo: Twitter/Molatek

New online auctioneers are emerging, often using social media marketing to encourage buyers to bid or make offers on goods. Agricultural buyers can easily be tricked into participating in a sale process or so-called auction that is not transparent, legal or safe.

Recent victims include famed Merino stud breeder Eddie Prinsloo who was bamboozled in a R4.9 million deal.

Prinsloo is the owner of Heuningkrans Farm in Smithfield in the Free State. He is known as a champion of land reform after giving seven land titles to workers in his Donkerhoek project.

Who are you dealing with?

The SAIA has now detected an increase in complaints against dishonest online auctioneers.

Online Auctions: John Cowing, President of the South African Auctioneers Institute (SAIA).  Photo: Supplied/Food for Mzansi
John Cowing, President of the South African Auctioneers Institute (SAIA). Photo: Supplied/Food for Mzansi

“Unfortunately, it is only when issues arise that bidders realize they are dealing with unprofessional sellers claiming to be bona fide auctioneers.

“This should send a clear message to the public to only deal with registered professional auctioneers who are members of SAIA,” SAIA Chairman John Cowing said.

“Before committing to buying from a so-called auction site, a simple check on SAIA’s site will dispel any concerns you may have. Our members have remained resilient in the face of the pandemic and are among the leaders in online auctioning. »

Cowing claims that institute members comply with all requirements to ensure honest and fair online auctions. Most will post their credentials on their website, which can be checked by the SAIA office if the bidder is in any doubt.

“Our members are responsible custodians of assets, who subscribe to our code of conduct. You are well advised to establish who you are dealing with before parting with your money. These online auctions put a stain on our industry and we hope that over time, with legislation, we will be able to eradicate these illicit traders.

“While we actively promote industry growth and the adoption of new technologies, we do not support these organized crime syndicates. You can often find great deals at auction, but if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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