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How to spot on-line classified ad scammers


Bryan Bosch

ThumperTalk's classifiedsare a great way to sell your bikes, parts/accessories, gear, apparel and related items. Our site gets TONS of traffic from off-road enthusiasts that are highly likely to be interested in your item(s). However, the downside of our popularity is that we're going to attract scammers posing as buyers, looking to take you for a ride (not the kind you're interested in either).

Scammers are depending upon your ignorance, hoping that you've not educated yourself on the classic scam approaches and want to exploit your honesty and trust. So, what can you do? The following are things to look for. The more items that are suspect, the higher the likelihood they are a scammer. This, coupled with a healthy dose of common sense should keep scum-of-the-earth spammers at bay.

1. Is the potential buyer's email address listed on the Official TT "Dirt Bag" thread? If so, delete the email and move on. Proof positive, they're trying to scam you.

2. Does the user have a post history? To find out, copy their user name and conduct and "advanced search". In our experience, scammers will almost always have zero posts. If they have posted, do they sound like someone that knows anything about bikes?

3. What domain did the user email you from? Most scammers will email you from @yahoo.com, @hotmail.com, @gmail.com or other domains offering freebie email.

4. Is the potential buyer from overseas? Ask yourself why they'd be willing to import a bike or part instead of buying locally.

5. How's their use of the English language? Peculiar phrases and simple spelling errors should heighten your suspicions.

6. Are they making lots of excuses to avoid a phone call such as, "I've recently moved, so my phone isn't hooked up yet and I don't have a cell phone." Scammers tend to stick to email.

7. Are they overly anxious to do a deal with little to no questions about your item and little to no haggling on price? Real buyers want to make sure they get the right item at a fair price, so most will have some questions before they make an offer.

8. Do they offer to send you a certified check, money order or want to wire funds (Western Union Moneygram), immediatley asking for your complete contact info? These are serious sign you're dealing with a scammer. Banks will cash fake checks and they will hold you liable when the fraud is uncovered weeks later!

9. Does the potential buyer refer to a shipping agent or that they are negotiating on behalf of their "client"? If so, bail! This is 100% a scammer!

If you want to educate yourself futher (a good investment of your time), here are a few sites worth checking out:

http://onguardonline.gov/index.html

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/consumer.shtm

http://www.scambusters.org/

So, what can ThumperTalk do about scammers? You just read it! The best we can do is to educate our members. Our site is an open forum, so there is no way to know if a user registered for legit reason or purely to look for unsuspecting victims.

If the user's email address is not already listed on the offical TT "Dirt Bag" thread, please add it to the thread and forward the emailto us, so that we can lock the account.

Please do not post the contents of the scammer's email to you outside of the the Dirt Bag thread. We're trying to train our user's to look for this information in a central location. The more user that refer to this thread, the more success we'll have in minimizing the scammers rate of success.

If you've been scammed, take the time to report it:

FTC toll free hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357)

FTC online complaint form (www.ftc.gov)

Canadian PhoneBusters hotline: 888-495-8501

Internet Fraud Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov/)

Non-emergency number for your local police department.

Good luck, happy selling and don't let your guard down! :banghead:

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