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Avoiding Fraudulent Buyers

There are several different scams to watch out for but most are with a buyer who hasn't even seen the item you are selling.

In a classified advertisement scam, a scammer responds to an advertisement for anything: a car, a motorbike, a boat, a tent, a computer... anything that is being advertised at a reasonably high price.

What to watch out for:
  • Questionable English. Strange wordings. Uses the phrase "Shipping Agent" etc Does it sound right? No? Almost certainly isn't then!
  • Someone responds to a classified advertisement you have placed and wants you to ship the item abroad, without even having seen the item.
  • They offer to pay you the amount of the item, plus the shipping costs, and ask you to arrange the shipping and pay the shipping agent yourself.
  • Someone sends you a cheque or bankers draft for your goods, then asks you to return the money to them for whatever reason via an instant cash transfer service such as Western Union or MoneyGram. Cash transfers made using these services are instant, meaning that the scammer can get his hands on your money well before you find out that the cheque you received is forged.
  • The ‘buyer' appears to want to remain distant from you (such as not wishing to meet you or see the goods prior to purchase or by their using a third party as an intermediary or ‘shipping agent')
Avoiding such scams
  • If if ANY doubt whatsoever, do not respond. Delete the email and move on, another buyer will turn up.
  • DO NOT be reassured if you receive a cheque or a banker's draft and your bank clears it as soon as you pay it into your account; it may still be a forgery, and if so, you will lose out.
  • Don't be afraid to ask detailed questions of your ‘buyer'
  • Don't be hurried along by your ‘buyer' - This is often a tactic used by a fraudster to get you to make a mistake
  • Check the details of any payment received- Do they correspond with what you know of your ‘buyer'?. If payment is by way of a company cheque or banker's draft try to contact the company directly to verify its legitimacy
  • Ultimately, don't be afraid to turn down a suspect ‘buyer'
What to do

Unfortunately, we cannot intercede on your behalf as the transaction is between the buyer (scammer) and the seller (you). However, if this does happen to you, please contact your local police and Trading Standards Officer who may be able to assist.

Avoiding Fraudulent Sellers

Fraudulent adverts can be placed by thieves posing as sellers, often involving a hoax caravan or motorhome at a bargain price, a faulty phone number and demands to transfer money abroad.

What to watch out for:
  • Questionable English. Strange wordings. Uses the phrase "Shipping Agent" etc Does it sound right? No? Almost certainly isn't then!
  • When you contact the seller they will say the item is abroad, and will be shipped to you in the UK. It won't, it's a scam.
  • The phone number is either faulty or diverting to voicemail
  • During email correspondence, the seller will say they are unable to use the phone due to illness or because they are away on business
  • The seller will ask you to wire a large deposit or the full price of the item to them before creating an excuse to avoid releasing the item, telling you to transfer more money or becoming impossible to contact
  • A caravan or motorhome or other item is much cheaper than its market value
  • If a seller cannot give you a landline telephone number
  • If the advert or subsequent emails are full of spelling mistakes and poor grammar
Avoiding such scams
  • Never wire money abroad, pay a large deposit, or transfer money direct from your account or hand over money until you’ve seen the item and are satisfied it and the seller are genuine
  • Check the item's market value by comparing the price with other similar models in the adverts – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Never buy an item without seeing it first and always view the item at the seller’s home

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