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Scams: Business or Individual Selling on the Internet

Internet scams continue to thrive, but you can protect yourself from being victimized by unscrupulous scam artists. I was almost ripped-off by a scammer when I listed a car for sale on two reliable internet sites, and it can happen to you. Whether you are an individual or have a business selling on the internet, take a few common-sense precautions to protect your interests.

  • Check all e-mail correspondence for correct e-mail addresses.

  • Verify payment directly through the payment source. Don’t trust an e-mail seemingly received from the payment source.

  • Be wary of requests that to make any type of payment to a third party.

  • Do an internet search of the buyer’s name and add the word “scam” or “scamming”.

  • Beware of any request to transmit payment through a source which cannot be verified, i.e., Western Union.

  • If payment is made by check, verify with your financial institution that is has cleared your account before turning over merchandise.

My Story: Within days of listing my classic car on a reputable web site, I received not one, but two, full-price offers. As I worked with each over the internet, they both had convincing stories as to why they wanted the car, why they couldn’t call to discuss the sale, and that they would pay using a well-known internet payment system. It all seemed plausible, so I continued to respond positively.

My buyer then communicated about having problems paying the car transporter, who would only accept payment through Western Union, because they pay the recipient in cash. However, the buyer was willing to pay the moving costs through the payment system, and requested that I pay the mover so the car could be transported quickly. In a few hours, I received e-mailed instructions from what appeared to by my trusted internet payment system that the money had been paid and the full price would be released once I sent payment for the movers, with internal links to follow to confirm payment. This aroused my suspicions. Although Western Union is a reputable company, there is no way to track the funds after delivery to the recipient. When I checked directly with my internet payment system, I found that no additional funds had been deposited in my account, nor had they sent me any e-mails. I then carefully checked the e-mails I had been receiving, and saw that the e-mail addresses were just slightly off. I was being scammed. If I had paid the movers directly, I would be out that money and never receive any payment. Later that day, my wife googled using the buyer’s name and added the word “scam”, and immediately was referred to reports from: scamdex.com, scamtip.com and ripoffreport.com with warnings to related to these names.

I then realized that if this almost happened to someone as cautious as I am, then it could happen to anyone. You can protect yourself or your business when selling on the internet by remembering an old adage: If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.

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