Managing fraudulent listings on Privateproperty.co.za

Private Property South Africa
Barrie Knox-Davies

First off, we don’t like fraud, we don’t like it at all! We invest much in the form of systems and human resources to ensure that we minimise deviant behaviour on our website.

To provide some context to this topic, I would like to reference some statistics from December 2012 through to February 2013. During this period, we activated 46 890 sales and 20 490 rental listings. This is an average of 15 630 sales and 6 830 rentals per month.

Disregarding the sales listings for a moment, let’s talk fraudulent rentals specifically.

We offer browsers the option to report listings when they feel that a listing is suspect, or when they receive a reply indicating that a suspicious “landlord” is trying to solicit a deposit online. Of the 20 490 listings that were activated over the three-month period, 1.17% (240) were reported as fraudulent. In monthly percentages this equates to 1.25% (63) in December, 0.79% (69) in January and 1.62% (108) in February.

Although this looks like an impressively low statistic, we are still not happy and are looking to implement new systems that retain our site’s ease-of-use but validate customer information more thoroughly.

As soon as such listings come to our attention, whether reported on the website, via email, through Twitter or Facebook, or telephonically, we work through them on a real-time basis. We validate the content and where necessary block these users from accessing our system with their current contact details. This forces them to go through a process of entering a new email address and creating a different profile.

Finally, we post evidence of these offenders on our advice forum, thereby exposing the deviant behaviour and minimising any potential impact on unsuspecting tenants.

Fraudulent sales listings

It is often reported that the stock on our website is out-of-date or no longer available. This is unfortunate, considering that a potential buyer would rather make an appointment to view a property than be disappointed in hearing that a property is no longer available.

For this reason, we have built our site to allow for easy activation and de-activation of stock by our estate agent clients.

While we are constantly striving to improve our systems and the ease-of-use of our site, the integrity of all the information underpins our shared success.

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