Details On Fake Samsung Phones Being Sold On Facebook Marketplace in Cape Town… And What To Watch Out For


My daughter got scammed yesterday into buying a Samsung Galaxy A71 phone for R2,400 cash. The story was it was an unwanted birthday gift being sold at 50% less than similar second hand phones. She put her SIM card in to make a call to test it was not blacklisted etc and it worked. It also booted up complete with Samsung logo, Samsung model number in settings, has a branded box, has branding on the phone, etc. Point is it seems to be a syndicate importing these “look alikes”. But we took it to a Samsung shop who very quickly verified it was definitely not a Samsung phone at all. Samsung says it has been happening for years “but what can they do?”. Well they could take it up with SA Customs who is supposed to prevent fake merchandise from entering the country. There is no way this was a single item import, and I really doubt this operation is being technically put together locally.

Unfortunately I was worrying more about the safety of the venue and whether the phone was blocked, than actually checking the model specifics out (it was my daughter’s choice of model etc and I was not involved in what it did etc). The scammer seems to want to try to use a venue close to where they are (citing they don’t have transport) and when I refused that venue, they claimed they did not know Canal Walk or could not get there (there is a Samsung shop at Canal Walk), and in the end we settled on N1 City Mall outside Pick ‘n Pay, where there is a video surveillance camera and security.

So the exchange went off fine and very friendly including the testing. On the way home she remarked the bezel did look a bit odd but when she was home she complained it was not updating the firmware and after loading 4 apps it said it’s 1GB RAM was out of space (that A71 should have had more memory than that).  So Case CAS 146/11/2020 is registered at Goodwood Police Station along with the photo I took of the offender and all the other screenshots we had of correspondence.

The signs to look out for though are the following:

  • The box is not quite the same as Samsung’s genuine one but many won’t notice this, and the colours of the phones on the back do not match those for this model.
  • There is NO IMEI number sticker anywhere on the outside of the box (this is a give-away).
  • The front camera notch and lower bezel look slightly different but again this is not easy to notice.
  • In the phone’s settings the serial number shows up as 0123456789ABCDEF – Chances of this is the same as winning the Lotto.
  • Android patch level is dated 2017-03-05 but the phone was manufactured (the A71) in around Dec 2019 and it shows Android 10 installed.
  • The flash LED on the rear is a slightly different size to the  genuine Samsung.

So yes the damage is done and my daughter has to pay off this debt to her mom who loaned her the money to buy the phone. But as buyers the lessons are you need to be firm on conditions for buying 2nd hand good. A genuine buyer will usually comply happily, and if not, walk away from the deal. So things to insist on:

  • Try and do the deal by a genuine OEM shop and ask them to check it if possible with the seller.
  • Ask the seller to provide their ID document, and be prepared to show yours too.
  • Preferably also buy / sell through sites such as Bid or Buy which has verified sellers and ratings, and where you can opt to do the exchange and payment via them.
  • Always pick a neutral area well away from your vehicle ie. inside a shopping mall near a camera.
  • Ideally try and get a photo of the other party.
  • Opt to try instant EFT payments via a bank account (instead of cash) as it is traceable and does literally get paid in minutes wile the person is standing with you.
  • In South Africa you have the right to demand a receipt for any money paid and that can be a hand written receipt.
  • Test the product and be aware of what the key features are to look for eg. bezel, camera layout, IMEI sticker on box.
  • Check the other party’s profile and be aware it can be a fake one.
  • Remember fraudsters are usually the most friendly, empathetic, and well-spoken people.
  • If you have any doubt or niggly feeling, just leave the deal.
  • If you are scammed, report it to the police otherwise that crime never existed in the crime stats and there is no way of having it investigated. You may be one of many that have already been scammed, and what if no-one reported it? Yes SAPS did try to convince us the crime occurred actually where the WhatsApp conversation started, and also that it is a “civil matter” (I worked in the police and am very aware of what constitutes a criminal fraud case). Do your duty as a citizen.

#SAPS #SAPolice #Crime #CapeTown #Scammer #Fake #Samsung #mobile

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