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Scams and Fraud


Most people who use the internet have great stories to tell about their experiences with buyers and sellers.  But we also receive occasional reports of scams and fraud. We've found that one of the best ways to avoid this problem is to try to keep all transactions local -- whenever possible, don't do business with anyone who is not in your local area.

Use caution and common sense when dealing with any financial transaction:

  • NEVER wire funds to a distant buyer, via Western Union or any other carrier 
  • Be wary if the other party wants to use an escrow service such as BidPay or Squaretrade
  • NEVER give out personal financial information (checking account number, SSN, eBay/PayPal info, etc.)
  • Trust your instincts, and always remember the most important rule -- BUYER BEWARE

If you think you have been scammed, contact the non-emergency number for your local police department -- they may be able to offer advice about your options.

Who should I notify about fraud?

  • FTC toll free hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357)
  • FTC online complaint form (
  • Canadian PhoneBusters hotline: 888-495-8501
  • Internet Fraud Complaint Center (

If you suspect that an item posted for sale on may be part of a scam, please email the details to Be sure to include the URL in your message.

Recognizing scams

Most scams involve one or more of the following:

  • Long-distance buyer or seller
  • Offer includes a cashier's check, postal money order, Western Union, or escrow service (BidPay, Squaretrade, etc.)
  • Refusal to meet face-to-face

Types of Scams

  1. Distant seller indicates they will guarantee the transaction through the some fictitious Protection Program.
    => These programs do not exist!!
    => Seller will request a down payment, and will provide detailed documentation of the "protection program."
  2. Distant buyer offers a high-value (but fake) cashier's check in exchange for your item.
    => You receive an odd email offering to buy your item site unseen.
    => Cashier's check is offered for your sale item, as a deposit for a part.
    => Value of cashier's check often far exceeds your item - buyer asks you to wire the balance via money transfer service.
    => Banks will often cash these fake checks AND THEN HOLD YOU RESPONSIBLE WHEN THE CHECK FAILS TO CLEAR.
    => Scam often involves a 3rd party (shipping agent, business associate owing buyer money, etc)
  3. Distant seller requests payment via Western Union or MoneyGram: 
    => Seller often claims that an MTCN or confirmation code is needed before he can withdraw your money - this is FALSE, once you've wired money, it is GONE. 
    => Common countries currently include: Nigeria, Romania, Ukraine, Spain, UK, Italy, Netherlands - but could be anywhere.
    => Deal often seems too good to be true.
  4. Distant seller offers to send you a cashier's check and then have you wire money: 
    => This is ALWAYS a scam, in our experience - the cashier's check is FAKE.
    => Sometimes accompanies an offer of merchandise, sometimes not.
    => Scammer often asks for your name, address, etc. for printing on the fake check.
    => Deal often seems too good to be true.
  5. Distant seller suggests use of an online escrow service.
    => Most online escrow sites are FRAUDULENT, operated by scammers.
    => For more info, do a Google search on "fake escrow" or "escrow fraud".
    => If you must do business with a distant seller, insist on a legitimate service, such as
  6. Distant seller asks for a partial payment upfront, after which he will ship goods.
    => He says he trusts you with the partial payment.
    => He may say he has already shipped the goods.
    = > Deal often sounds too good to be true.

Actual examples of scam emails

Hello ,
Thanks for your mail back concerning the inquiry mail i sent to you.
The price, condition also the pics i viewed is okay by me .And my client confirm there is no problem about the price($975 ) ,my client do pays with a {USA}cashier check,he has agreed to mail out as bank cashiers check of $3500. to you on my behalf to cover the shippment fees.About the shippment, that we be taken care by my me & my personal assistant,my personal assistant will be using his shipper to do the quick processing of the shipping of the(1987 Toyota Celica) to my client. So all you are to do after you will received the check in your mail, Just take out your sale amount and refer the remaining money to my shipper immediately through the westernunion or the money gramm outlet so to get the money fast and start the fast arrangement for the pickup of the(1987 Toyota Celica).Since you are the original owner of this item,and I am buying the item directly from you i will like you to write your full name to be on the check,with the mailing address which my client will be using to issued out the check to you.I do wish to trust you by refering the rest balance back to my shipper and also your fast doing to this transaction. I will like to hear from you if this is okay by you and you are ready to process ,if you already to sale your item and promise referring the rest balance to my shipper immediately you received the check so can start the quick arrangement for the pickup. Any body that want to buy this item this item just tell them that it as been sold. I will like to copmplete this transaction before the new year. I be at my computer waiting to see your epky to my payment method mailed.

> Good day
> i am an auto dealer based in TAIWAN,i am interested in buying your
> (1989 Jetta GL 4 door)I will like to know if you would accept
> a certified cashier check for the payment of the,i also need to
> know the price and your full name and address including your
> phone is also needed in which payment will be sent to . i have a
> shipping company who takes cares of my shippment .So don't bother
> about the shippment.I will also like to know if is still in good
> condition and shape.urgent response is needed for procedure of payment of the (
> 1989 Jetta GL 4 door )



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