General Advice

(Source: Gumtree)

Always try to use our website. Use the ‘Contact Author’ button on the adverts page. Fact: most scammers will try to lure you away from our website. Perhaps even by adding email addresses or phone numbers to their pictures.

Meet the seller and advertised item in person. The best thing to do is to see and assess the item you are buying, in person, before purchase. Try your best to do it somewhere public, and take someone with you.

Bing or Google can help you detect scammers. Put details about the seller/buyer and see if any results come up. Use e-mail address or phone numbers to see if it flags up any concerns.

Be suspicious of a seller that first asks you to pay using one payment method, then asks you to swap to another, claiming there is a problem with the first. At first they may suggest PayPal, then change to a Bank Transfer or similar.

Inform yourself before you buy. The more information you have the less likely you are to be scammed. Make sure you ask for paperwork, such as aircraft or engine logbooks, certificates or receipts.

Finally if you’re still not sure, perhaps it’s not your cup of tea, probably best to walk away in that case.

Spotting Scammers

(source: Gumtree)

Scammers like to use Western Union, MoneyGram and Ukash

People often use these companies to send money abroad to friends and family, or for trade. Be suspicious if a stranger asks you to pay or wants to pay you through one. In fact, don’t do it.

Ukash – This is designed for transactions between customers and merchant sites. It’s not designed for private sellers and buyers. Scammers will usually either create fake websites, pretending to be Ukash, or ask you to buy a Ukash voucher and send them the voucher number. Our advice is simply don’t use Ukash. Meet in person instead, or use a safe online payment method if you absolutely have to pay online.

Western Union / Moneygram – These services are meant for people who know each other well to transfer money to each other. What scammers commonly do is ask you to prove you have money to buy their item by asking you to send money to your friend or family. They’ll then ask you to show them a copy of the receipt. All they need is to take the tracking number from your receipt and go collect the money themselves. Try to avoid using these services with people you don’t know, as there is no way of getting your money back.

They might ask you to use PayPal – Family & Friends.

There’s no money-back guarantee with PayPal – Family & Friends because it’s for paying people you know. So don’t do it. Similarly, they may want to use, which is another payment service that should be used between people who know each other, because the payment can’t be reversed when used. The service that will cover you is PayPal – Service, but we still suggest you familiarise yourself with PayPal’s help pages.

They might email or text asking for your personal details

We’ll never ask you for login, password, bank or credit card details over email or text. If someone pretending to be us asks, don’t share anything or click any links.

Here’s what these spoof or ‘phishing’ emails can look like.

They might offer you our buyer protection or an online payment system

Really? Must be a scam because we don’t offer these. If you get an email offering you these services from other sites like eBay, PayPal or Google, go to their websites to see if it’s genuine. Fake emails might look like this.

They might suggest an escrow or payment protection site

Be suspicious. Whether it’s a buyer, seller, tenant or landlord. These websites often look great, but they’re run by scammers. They might take your money and never send you what you’re after.

They might want extra cash for fees

Brokerage? Import duties? If a seller says you need to pay extra for fees, it’s a scam. They’ll probably take your money and never send your item.

Whenever you can, meet face to face and pay in cash.

They might want you to post abroad

And they might offer you more money for doing it. Careful – it’s probably a scam.

They might say they’ve sent you more than the asking price

If a buyer says they’ve sent you too much money then asks for the surplus back, it’s probably a scam. Same with someone looking to rent a place off you, or even an employer wanting to pay you.

  • A bank transfer or PayPal payment probably won’t go into your account
  • A cheque will probably bounce or go in then come out later

If you get an email that makes you suspicious, check your bank account straightaway to see if any money’s gone in. If you pay the scammer, you’ll lose that money and won’t get the money you’re owed.

They might pretend to have the pet you want

Perhaps a Bulldog, Yorkshire Terrier or Chihuahua. They might then offer to ship the pet from abroad or send it on a plane. But they’ll ask you to pay for travels up front. Be very careful, even if the pet looks great in photos (they could be staged).

They might ask you to cash a cheque for working from home

It could just be a way for someone to launder money. If there’s no interview or the wage seems too good to be true, turn on your suspicion switch.

To find out more about online scamming, take a look at Get Safe Online and Action Fraud.