How to identify fake Sellers on Instagram and avoid getting duped

Instagram remains one of the most popular destinations for shoppers especially when it comes to fast moving consumer goods.

Like any good venture, fraudsters have also taken advantage of the situation to look like real buyers and dupe their victims.

After interacting with a few people, who have been duped on Instagram, I have decided to put together this guide on how you can ascertain the legibility of a seller and not fall victim to fraudsters.

I must say that this guide is not a 100% foolproof way to find out if a seller is real or not. However, for the times that I have used it, the fraudsters usually get angry and block me or limit me to their accounts.

Use this as a guide and share some of the ways you are able to detect fraudster early on social media with us in the comments below.

Always remember that it is always somewhat a risk to send money online to someone you don’t know.

Also remember that with all the points listed below, if a business exhibits two or more of those traits, you should be careful.

Now, let us look at all the signals that you can use to detect a fraudster early.

Usually New Accounts

First off, I will like to say that the fact that an account is new does not mean the person is a fraudster.

However, the accounts we studied all follow a patern of less than 9 months of active use and plenty of “convincing” photos added to the profile in the time frame.

These new accounts may also have comments disabled so that people don’t complain for them to “lose” customers.

Also, check the username history of the account. Most fraud accounts usually change their usernames often. Names that are unrelated to say the least.

Fake Instagram Stories

Most genuine sellers will show their face in their Instagram Stories. One thing I realised about the fraud accounts I interacted with is that they don’t show their faces.

Most of their photos on Instagram stories are also very “clean” ― they don’t show the person’s hands and seem to only be a product showcase.

If you detect this, ask in a nice way that the seller does a video call with you at a time of your convenience. Let them know you don’t trust their stories.

Most fraudsters will make up and excuse or not reply to you at all.

Quick acceptance of part payments

A fraudster’s goal is to always accept as little or as much money as they can and move on to their next target.

Imagine a fraudster duping GHS 50 off 20 people each day, 5 days a week for 4 weeks ― that’s GHS 20,000.

Fraudsters know this and are therefore willing to take as “little” as they can from as many people as possible.

They will therefore bring up stuff like:

  • You need to make a deposit to secure the goods (delivery fee alone is okay to secure if you’ve checked and the business has existed consistently for long on Instagram).
  • Part-payment before delivery
  • You need to pay for delivery first (if you want to do this, make sure it is a business you have transacted with before or followed for at least two months on Instagram. Some genuine businesses actually ask for a delivery fee first)

They are willing to accept part payment no matter how small and are quick to let you know a product will soon be out of stock. Don’t fall for these techniques.

Suspicious Phone Numbers

Always check phone numbers that fraudsters give you. I use Truecaller sometimes, but this is not always accurate.

Most of their numbers are new, the 055, 056, 050 kind.

Another interesting thing we noticed from the fraudsters are that they will prefer you to send the money to Vodafone Cash numbers through MoMo interoperability.

The reason they do this is that, if you suspect the fraudulent activity, it will be extremely difficult to call MTN to reverse the transaction.

However, if you are ever defrauded, contact the network service provider immediately to report for a higher chance of getting your money back.

Unwilling to answer simple questions

Genuine sellers are mostly willing to answer questions and are not agitated most of the time.

Here are some questions that will quickly expose Instagram Fraudsters:

  • I have my own delivery guy, he will come to your place with the money to pay, take the goods and deliver back to me. Is that fine with you? | The fraudster will immediately make different excuses and not willing to let you use your delivery person.
  • Can you send me another photo of the product in a more natural background? | They will be unwilling to do this since their product images are usually from the internet. However, some people selling electronics, particularly iPhones will send you as many photos. This kind of fraudsters have the products and use them as bait to take your money. Take note.
  • My friend said you guys defrauded him. Is this true? | If they are fraudsters, they will immediately block or limit your account. Some confidence fraudsters will even try to talk you through. This is not a very nice technique though, but it works.

Delivery Prices

Most of the delivery prices that fraudsters give are very unrealistic. One person was willing to send me shoes from Awoshie to Community 18 for GHS 10. That is not possible at all.

If the person offers a low delivery fee and asks you to pay upfront, maybe say GHS 10, don’t do it.

It’s a low amount but do the calculation above. They are making good money by selling nothing and stealing, and real sellers have to suffer for it.

Note: A lot of genuine businesses online use the delivery payment as a means of “seller security”. So this alone should not be the basis to conclude that a business is fraud.

Never Willing to Meet even when they could

There are some businesses that are solely online and it is normal not to meet them.

However, I just felt to mention the meet part again. It is every important if the person states on their profile they have an office yet are reluctant to let you come see it

Always offer to meet them up to buy (as a test, even if it is delivery you want). Or tell them you will let your own dispatch come for it. Check out the seller’s reaction and decide for yourself.


Instagram is a good place to find business people.

My longtime friend, Bridget has been selling bags on Instagram for years and she has been very helpful in putting together this article.

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If you’ve done business with someone before, you are good to go with them. However, don’t let that translate to trusting everyone on the platform.

Most of these fraudsters have some form of testimonials on their page ― don’t believe that at all.

Always be on the watch out for these fraudsters. Most of them run Instagram Ads so be very weary of these ads.

Report them as spam to Instagram and let your friends do same too. Remember that for every fraudster we take out of Instagram, we have saved a friend from getting duped and we have helped a genuine business from reaching more people.

If you know any fake Instagram sellers, report to us via comments on this article or send to us on Facebook.

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