Quite common on ebay at the moment, you buy something and the seller asks for bank transfer, Western Union or MoneyGram payment. That should set off alarm bells immediately. Bank transfers are hard to reverse and accounts are easier to set up than you imagine. Western Union and MoneyGram are effectively untraceable given there hundreds of thousands of agents throughout the World, usually in little shops. This form of payment also takes you outside the safety net of Paypal. Say what you like about ebay but their system favours the buyer, stray from it at your peril.
Bait and Switch
Commonly used in property rentals. You see a property advertised for rent and call them, sadly it’s just gone but there’s another one, usually not as good and more expensive.
You sell something and the buyer sends a cheque. Oops, it’s made out for too much, never mind, M8, just send me a cheque for the difference. The buyers cheque bounces but yours doesn’t. Relies on the fact that banks clear cheques in 4 days on your statement but in reality it takes 10 days.
Can be anything but it’s the best price anywhere, ever! Look up ‘Ainsworth Scammers’ on Google, they’ve been making a living out of this for years. Works on other products too and usually includes a variation of the money transfer scam above.
Things that should ring alarm bells:
i) It’s an unwanted present – yeah right, I get £500 laptops all the time from my family
ii) Addresses that turn out to be offices used for registering companies
iii) You’ve never heard of them and neither has anyone else you talk to
iv) A ‘throwaway’ e-mail address i.e. Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo
Finally, watch out for:
The Double Act
You do everything right, agree to meet in a public place so you can view the goods, don’t pay until you’ve tried out that nice, shiny laptop complete with accessories, case etc. Then you put it in your bag and sort out the cash. When you get home it’s mysteriously turned into a bag of potatoes – because his mate swapped it out while you were doing the money.
Trust no-one and you won’t go far wrong