Fraudulent transactions

10/09/2018 11:29

Fraudulent transactions in the exchange of goods and services rob consumers of substantial amounts of money and time, causing unnecessary hassle and hardship.

These types of transactions occur when goods are not fully supplied to the consumer as recorded by traders or consumers are overcharged for items without their knowledge.

Overcharging of items is most likely to happen at the Point of Sale (POS) and while these mistakes may sometimes be put down to human error, there are situations where individual employees are actively trying to fleece consumers.

There are many variations and examples of fraud to do with retail businesses. These include void sales fraud where the aim of the fraud is to stop the sale from being recorded and to steal the proceeds. If the sale is not recorded by the employee, the money will not be missed from the banking of sales receipts.

This is detrimental to both the trader and the consumer purchasing the goods. Another variation is false returns where the aim is to process a fake return of goods and to steal the money allegedly paid back to the (fake) customer. POS fraud is also fairly common. The POS system is used extensively by many businesses to record sales and the system can be adjusted to suit the needs of individual business.

POS system are commonly used to record sales by having a cashier scan the bar codes of products. Once the bar code is scanned and the sale is processed, the system then updates and manages the stock lists for items sold and also records payment received. However there are ways in which dishonest employees can take advantage of this system and use it to con unsuspecting consumers.

This was the case in one complaint registered at the Council by a complainant.David’s elderly sister in law had purchased a few items from Rups Sigatoka on 21, May 2018 under the HOMES Care Initiative.

These items included a mink blanket.When David viewed the receipts after the purchase, he saw that his sister in law was charged for three Mink blankets but had only purchased one.

This caused understandable concern for David who felt his sister in law was being taken advantage of after already suffering the pain of losing her belongings in a natural disaster.

He had also visited the shop manager but no positive response was provided.David then raised his concerns to the Council via the National Consumer Helpline and the respondent was contacted.

The Director of the company had advised the council that an investigation would be carried out and feedback would be provided on the matter.After the investigation was completed, Rups Sigatoka advised the Council that the customer had signed the sales docket, accepting all items as per the receipt printout.

They had also conducted a physical stock take and found that there were no more mink blankets in stock, this caused some alarm as their Point of Sale system records showed that there should have been one piece of the Mink blanket in stock.

The Director later concluded that because the complainant’s sister in law was elderly, some unscrupulous employee may have taken advantage of her and fraudulently added items to her receipt.

He also accepted that the difference in POS records and actual stock records was their own internal problem and this discrepancy may have been the result of theft.The Director further agreed that they would, at their own cost, supply goods of equivalent value to the complainant’s sister in law.

In a retail environment, all staff members have access to the cash register/POS system and stock, therefore the opportunity for fraud is increased and difficult to investigate and control.

In light of the above the Council advises consumers to be assertive and to act to ensure they get fair deals and that they are not exploited in the market place.

Consumers should always play it safe and cross check that receipts or delivery invoices accurately record the items purchased, correct before signing off on them. This reduces the risk of Point of Sale fraud and also alerts traders to the possible presence of unethical employees.

If receipts are not thoroughly checked, the potential for fraudulent transactions increases.

Consumers can further lodge any consumer complaints they have by calling the National Consumer Helpline on Toll Free Number – 155.