How to Recognize Fraud: Fake Buyers

It pays to be savvy about spotting fraud. From fake websites to fake buyers, there are plenty of opportunities to get hosed if you don't have your wits about you.

How can you tell when someone is trying to steal your money or personal information when all you are trying to do is sell some furniture (or sell your car, or house, etc.).

The first step is very nondescript reply from a sketchy email address, or a text message if you provided a phone number with your ad. The email likely has a few numbers in it, and is at a less commonly used domain, or a domain you have never heard of. The initial reply is probably something like “do you still have it“, “is this still available?“, or “I am interested in your item“. They save their usual pitch for later, as by keeping their initial reply simple, they are much harder to detect as a scam. They will usually pick a nondescript, typically English-Canadian sounding name to use (or at least, what they perceive as typical), but use poor grammar and spelling, as well as strange diction reveals that they are not the average Canadian they claim to be. If you receive a text message, they will generally ask you to email them.

The scam pitch: They will often talk about god or religion, use words like “blessed”, make frequent reference to how “serious” they are, or babble about their job as a missionary, in the military, for green peace, or another position that they think will lend them credibility. The capitalization will be random seeming, and the phrasing will often be strange (as if it was typed in a foreign language and run through google translate). Here is a typical follow up reply.
Hello,
Thanks for the prompt reply.Well am okay for the
(insert title of your ad) i am highly interested in it,and i Don’t want you to worry abt the shipping because i have a shipping company that will be coming for the Pick up of the Advert at your residence as soon as payment has been made,The shipper will come for the immediate pick-up and make sure everything is clean up ok

I also want you to know that i will be paying via Money Order or Certified Check and it will contain both your asking price and the shipping fees via my shipping company and no pick up will be made until Money order is received and cashed by you i also want you to be serious about this so we can both finished this transaction in one mind, and here are the details needed so that i can mail the Money order without any delay,i lookup concluding the sale sooner.Thanks

FULL NAME:
ADDRESS :
PROVINCE,STATE:
POSTAL CODE:
TEL #:
SELLING PRICE:

As soon as this is received the payment will be mailed out with no further delay,Once the datas are provided to me,i can send payment immediately.I will be expecting your reply asap.? Kindly reply back with the requested question so the purchase can be completed

Best Regard,
Stay Blessed With Your Family

The reply seems odd, but since many don’t see how they could be scammed when they aren’t the ones paying, they might fall for it and continue to reply, which would lead them to a response like this one:

The payment which will be delivered to you 3 to 5 working days by next week. Kindly mark the ads sold on the site right now as well have it keep intact for me OK. And include an excess fund meant for my mover agent fee’s. As soon as you get it, take it to your bank for instantly cashed, You will deduct your selling price, And get the remaining balanced sent to my mover agent via western union money transfer or money gram store around you.

Which I will send you his information later. … I hope you do understand me clearly. I’m as well giving you $50 for the inconvenience and for the assistance. I await for your reply as soon as you got my message. I wish you a great day ahead.

Of course, they aren’t actually sending you real money. The cheque will bounce, or be found to be fake, in any case, you won’t end up with the money they send, and if you send the “mover” money, then you will lose more than you ever stood to gain.

If you are selling on any classified website, don’t agree to any transactions that are not face to face, and don’t send personal information to strangers online (except for what you need to tell people to coordinate a meet-up). Though the Kijiji community is full of friendly people who just want to save (or make) a few bucks with used goods or services, any time you are online you should keep your wits about you, and remember your own safety.

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