How to identify a scam when shopping online?

Are you from Malaysia, or going to buy something online via platforms like Mudah, Lelong, Carousell or some Malaysian forum like Lowyat.NET garage sales? Then you are at the right place because this article is about a website that our RMP (Royal Malaysian Police) have created to check few things before you even send your money to the seller.

Lately, online scams especially all this trade related scams are getting bad to worse. Scammers are coming up with so many new tricks to fool you. So this website will be very useful to you (if it is up and running lah).  

There are 2 things that you can check via this website – account number and phone number. So before you bank-in your hard earned money to someone whom you’ve never met in your life, you can check if the person’s phone number or account number is in RMP’s scammer database. If it is, it will show a warning and number of police reports made against the detail that you are checking.

It is a very useful tool but I am not sure how updated the database is because scammers will always change their phone numbers and account numbers. Also, the website was down when I was writing this article and I couldn’t really put it to the test. Well, looks like RMP’s server is overloaded and we should give them some time to get this sorted out. Anyway, they have mentioned that this service is currently on a trial phase. So we have to use it at our own risk. It is still a good effort from RMP and I truly appreciate that.

Here is the link to the website –

Now, I also have some tips on how to shop online without falling for a scam. I am doing all kind of online sales since 2004 and based on numerous bitter experiences that I had, I will share some tips that I personally use when I shop online.

Try to meet the person

  • Scammers always tell you that they are somewhere too far for you to meet up so that you will opt for postage. If possible, try to only deal with someone whom you can meet in person. Of course, meeting someone unknown can also be dangerous. So only choose a crowded and safe place to meet up such as shopping malls, restaurants and so on.
  • When you meet the person, take your time and check if the product that you are going to buy is functioning well. Make sure you do your research about the product before meeting so that you know what to check. If the person says that he / she is rushing and need to leave, just let the deal go. You definitely don’t want to buy a lemon, do you?
  • If you are the seller, please check the currency notes that you receive from the buyer, making sure they are not fake notes. I know you may not want to offend the buyer by checking the notes in front of the person but you rather lose a deal than having fake money with you.

If you need to opt for postage, search for the person on the internet

  • Google does a great job in searching for what you need. Please make use of that by searching for the person’s phone number and account number or anything else that you could think of. When I do this, I will usually end up in 3 situations :
  1. Scammer identified (well and good because I will stay away from the person).
  2. The person is on the internet but is not a scammer. He / She has done numerous trades on the internet (awesome, I will hope that the deal will go through smoothly).
  3. Search result doesn’t show anything about the details that you are looking for. When this happens, then you have to decide if you want to take the risk. I personally wouldn’t take a risk especially if the amount of money is too big.
  • Use apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook and TrueCaller to find out more using the person’s phone number. By the way, although TrueCaller is a great app, I have some concerns using it because it uploads my contacts into its database too. There are ways to make sure that your contact list is not uploaded into TrueCaller’s server but I am not going to mention it here (to make sure I stick to the topic).

If a price is too good to be true, then it is likely to be a scam

  • People fall for a scam because they are greedy. So when you see something which is very cheap, make sure you let your brain do the thinking instead of your emotions. Otherwise you will be at the losing side and you can’t blame anyone else once you got scammed except for your greed.

Ask plenty of questions to the seller and make sure his /her answers are convincing

  • You need to ask questions about the product that you are going to buy. The seller may not reveal some downsides of the product and as such, you need get things clear so that there is no misunderstanding later. Ask about the warranty, what is given, what courier service will be used and so on. It is better to ask but at the same time, make sure you don’t annoy the seller by asking stupid questions.

Keep proof. Record your conversations

  • Once you got scammed, this might not be helpful to retrieve back your money but in case you need to make a police report, then your chat records might be useful. I will usually chat with the seller so that I can keep those conversations as a record. This will also be helpful if you receive something which is totally different from what the seller has described during the conversation.

Be ready to lose

  • Yes, when you opt for postage, you have to accept that there are risks involved. I personally will only bank-in money that I am willing to lose. If the amount is too big, I rather forgo the deal instead of losing my hard earned money and crying later.


I can be considered as insane as I don't do what others always do. I take unknown paths. I take unwanted risks. I can just throw away something that took me so long to build and start all over from the beginning. That is me. RodViRa - My life, I live, my way.