Consumer Tips to Avoid Internet Classified Scams

AfricaHunting.com

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While the Internet offers convenience, it can also enable scam operators to defraud buyers and sellers. Fraudsters can use the Internet to scam individuals looking to buy or sell products and services. Like many sites AfricaHunting.com has no verification or screening process for transactions.

Share your tips in the thread below as well. Here are some of the best ones that I could come up with but I am sure the community has some good ones to add.

Tip: Make payment via an escrow service like Escrow.com whenever possible. Escrow is a financial arrangement in which two parties enlist a third party (who is neither the buyer nor the seller) to temporarily hold money, paperwork, or other assets for a transaction on their behalf before the transaction has been finalized. Be cautious when the buyer or seller wants to use an online escrow service you have never heard of as many scammers use fake escrow sites that may look like the real thing. Watch out for red flags such as poor spelling and domain spoofing. Never send financial information online unless the website displays a secure “https://” URL.

Tip: Beware of Internet payment services that you are asked to access through a link or in the body of an email. Remember that links can be masked, and logos and trademarks can be faked online. If you intend to use what you believe is a well-known Internet payment service, visit that company’s website yourself, rather than trust the information or link that another party is suggesting.

Tip: When you buy or sell online DO NOT post your personal information publicly. This includes personal information such as your name, address, phone number, email address... No one needs to know anything about you unless they’re buying whatever you’re selling or vice versa. If you want to provide someone your personal information please do so in the Conversations/Private Messages (PM) system here on AH.

Tip: Don't be rushed and a deal that sounds too good to be true probably is. Trust your instincts. Always follow your instincts. If something seems like it's not right, or someone makes you uncomfortable for any reason, just walk away.

Tip: When shopping online there is always a risk that the seller is a scammer with nothing to sell and that the photos of the item for sale were just stolen from someone else on the internet so one tip to avoid getting scammed with that method is to ask for specific photos. Ask the seller to send you a couple of unusual very specific photos of the item for sale, for instance if selling a rifle ask the seller to send you a picture with their forefinger in a certain odd position on the rifle and another with their hand holding the scope. Ask if they can send you a short video clip of the item. You can certainly suspect that something is not right if they won’t do this.

Tip: Do a reverse image search on Google. Not foolproof but this can reveal if the image was previously posted on the web. Search Google with an image instead of text by clicking here

Tip: Ask the seller for their full name, residential address, phone number and email address. Use Google to do a simple or reverse search of their name, address, phone number and email address. Call the phone number to make sure that the number given is indeed the proper number. Talk to the seller in person and also ask to do a video chat where you can see the person and the item. This suggestion is not full proof but often online scammers are selling items they do not own and just have taken pictures from the Internet.

Tip: Be wary of wiring money to a party that you don’t know. Many people mistakenly think that wire transfers, like personal checks, can be canceled at anytime. This is not true. If you wire money via Western Union or MoneyGram, it’s impossible to retrieve the money once it’s picked up at the other end. Because it can be picked up anywhere in the world, the money is virtually untraceable. Once money is wired overseas, United States law enforcement agencies may have little ability to recover lost funds.

Tip: For sellers cashier’s checks are NOT the same as cash. Counterfeit checks can look very authentic. Just because the money appears to be available in your account doesn’t mean that the check has cleared and is legitimate. Federal rules require banks to make deposits "available" to consumers quickly, often the following business day. A check takes a long time to clear. It may take a bank weeks to discover that the deposited check was fraudulent. The bank may still bounce the check if it’s a forgery. Once a victim wires funds onward from such a check, he or she may be liable to the bank for the amount wired. Typically the bank will not cover the loss, and expects the victim to pay the difference. You can check and verify its legitimacy by contacting the issuing bank. Do not use the contact information that appears on the check. Do a little leg work and obtain the contact information independently through legitimate directories.
 
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Vintageguy

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The tip on the cashiers checks is right on. I had one individual I was sure was scamming me send a cashiers check to me. I took it to my local police who held it and notified me 10 days later it had cleared. That magic phrase everyone is looking for. So I asked, "it's legit then?" and he answered "no, not yet". Another 31 days and it came back as a forged check and I would have been responsible for $4,500 plus any penalties. The check has "cleared" only means a bank was willing to cash it, not that it is legit.
 

rookhawk

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The tip on the cashiers checks is right on. I had one individual I was sure was scamming me send a cashiers check to me. I took it to my local police who held it and notified me 10 days later it had cleared. That magic phrase everyone is looking for. So I asked, "it's legit then?" and he answered "no, not yet". Another 31 days and it came back as a forged check and I would have been responsible for $4,500 plus any penalties. The check has "cleared" only means a bank was willing to cash it, not that it is legit.


100%. Be advised that a money order or a cashiers check is the OPPOSITE of surety. I don't accept them ever. I'd rather take a personal check than a cashier's check or US postal money order, the two most counterfeited form of financial instruments.

As vintageguy alluded, it takes about 45 days for a check to clear. When your bank makes funds available to you is the amount of time it takes the bank to feel comfortable that it has a 90% chance of being good. The bank knows full well that if it eventually bounces, YOU, the victim, are responsible for restitution. Frank Abignail Jr. wrote the book on this scam back in the day (his movie and book, Catch me if you can, is worth seeing). The scammer just selects routing numbers from small regional hubs that work slow so it takes a very long time to truly clear.

Paypal Friends-and-Family is guaranteed for the recipient and without fee, but the sender has ZERO fraud protection.

Regular paypal has fraud protection for the sender, but has ZERO protection for the recipient. Further, if paypal finds out it is a gun or gun-related (e.g. scope) they will ban you from their platform.

Venmo is owned by paypal, same story.

Zelle is great for instant transfers, but no fraud protection.

Wire transfer has no fraud protection for the sender, but the recipient knows the funds are good when the bank says they arrived.

For me, the easiest way to deal with people is to use a sniff test. Your gut is way more foolproof than any of the other options. Will the seller/buyer call you? In discussion with them, do they seem like good humans with like mindsets? Do they have the same peer group, being known to AH or other forums on the internet that are pretty tight-knit group? Do they know your operators or PHs? Do they keep their word in the little things like when they will get back to you, call you, or follow up?

My last trick knowing checks are pretty worthless things is when a buyer sends me a check and they say "Take all the time you want for it to clear". If they say that, I agree. When the check arrives, I send the goods promptly even though they thought it would take two weeks.

So far on this forum, I've bought about 20 items and sold about 20 items. I've had ZERO issues whatsoever but then again, we're all friends here. We read each other's posts, PM, hunt the same places...honestly, this forum is a lot safer than selling to the local guy from the saloon.
 

AfricaHunting.com

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I started this thread after a couple AH members were scammed by someone in the Classifieds and so I would like to share his experience with all of you so that we may be better informed to prevent this type of thing from happening in the future.

Link to @PARA45 post where he is sharing his experience and lessons learned so other members do not become a victim like him:


Fortunately, it has been a very rare occurrence that something like this happens here however even though we are a tight knit community we are not safe from scammers.
 

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