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Trading Safely on eBay and Elsewhere

For big ticket items use escrow services or involve your
attorney.  For big ticket items consider extra protection.  
Such as having an instrument appraised, packed, insured,
and shipped by a reputable shop near the seller.  For
selling big ticket items, get an appraisal prior to shipping.  
If the seller will go along, make the sale FOB buyer’s
location.  Provides seller with an incentive to pack well.  Be
able to find your trading partner.  Name, address, work
address, Driver’s License number.  CONFIRM these.  

Photograph everything you sell well enough to show
condition.  Take note of serial numbers or other identifying
marks on   Use common sense.  If it doesn’t feel right, it
isn’t right.  


Nigerian fake check scam.  Someone wants something
you have.  They send a fake cashier’s check for more than
the amount of your item.  You are supposed to deposit it
and wire them the excess.  The biggest we’ve gotten is
$11,000.  We collect these checks.     

eBay fake bidup.  Several sellers collude to bid up prices
on eBay.  Very common.  Don’t pay more on eBay that you
would normally for an item.     

eBay fake sale fraud.  You pay, nothing ever shows up.  
Make sure you can really track down the seller.  Confirm
name, home and work address and phone.  Get a driver’s
license number.  For big items, get references and use an
escrow service.  Don’t count on a nice voice on the other
end of a telephone line as assurance.  They aren’t called
“confidence men” for nothing.       

eBay fake second offer email.  This even happens with
items we list.  Official looking second offer email takes you
to a phishing site to get your password, takes credit card
information, or asks for money order or wiring of money to
someone.  Completely fake, your money is gone.  The
alleged seller will never have heard of you.

Carrier theft.  Buyer’s friend works for UPS or Fedex or
the Post Office.  He sends check or credit card number for
item you are selling.  Friend simply puts another address
label over your label, so that it will be delivered to a third
party location of his choosing and never be delivered to
the address that you shipped it to. Buyer calls & asks
when you shipped the item out. You provide tracking
number, he calls back saying the carrier lost the package.  
Mail Box Etc. or similar rip-off place will hide.  UPS is a self
insurer and will bury you in red tape, ask for proof the item
was in the box, and so on.  They want serial numbers,
estimates of value etc.  For high $ items expect to sue.  
UNLESS you make absolutely clear that items are leaving
you FOB your end.  Then the beef is really between the
buyer and the carrier.  But anticipate and prepare for
being able to show you actually shipped the item.  

Carrier theft 2.  Variation.  Instead of getting item
shipped to third party location, buyer’s route driver friend
delivers to his house.  They open the box, remove the item
(sometimes leaving an empty case) and: 1.  call seller and
ask why only empty case shipped.  OR 2.  repack the box
and retape so it looks untouched after removing the thing
in the case. Call you for a refund, stop payment on his
check, or contests his credit card purchase. HAVE PROOF

Carrier theft 3.  Buyer accepts the package,  waits till the
UPS driver leaves, quickly opens the box and removes
instrument, hides it, then runs outside to catch the driver.
Driver returns to house to see empty case.  Now the jerk
has a witness.  Calls his credit card company and gets the
charges removed.  For prepay deals, he will threaten to
sue if you don't send him his money back.  HAVE PROOF
  Beyond puffing.  Seller has a nice looking instrument
with very serious defect in it. Stores and pawnshops get
such things too often.  They end up on eBay.  The serious
jerks get around eBay negative feedback issues.  Seller
puts instrument on eBay, generally having pulled anything
good off it (e.g., Fustero tuners on a classical guitar) and
replacing them with junk.  Puts up good clear pictures with
great instruments surrounding it to set the stage.  Fancy
narrative description, etc.  You’ve seen them.  Loves it,
needs the money because his sister got knocked up by a
tire salesman, etc.  Puts a modest reserve, say 40% of
what one might expect to pay.  But more than it is worth by
far with the hidden defect.  High bidder gets it.   Gets
money from the buyer. Then calls buyer and gives him
some reason that he doesn't want to sell it. He tells him
something like "I just couldn't part with it" or "My Brother
gave it to me and I have to keep it for sentimental reasons"
He may even tell the truth and say he found a big crack, or
that the thing isn’t authentic, or whatever.  Seller already
has buyer’s money, and now he is offering the money
back.  So the buyer trusts the seller. Decided to trust him
when he sent the money in the first place. Now there’s
more trust. He has gained himself a lifetime sucker.  Seller
can even give the guy a good deal on the instrument.  
Buyer will go back on Ebay and give the guy positive
feedback so he can lure more flies into his little web.     So
where’s the scam?  Seller approaches the other bidders
and offers them the guitar via email, attempts to set up
sale outside of eBay.  First bid failed, so do you want it?  
The ultimate buyer can’t even post negative feedback on
eBay.  Now there’s the legal system to deal with if the
seller isn’t pressured easily.  Watch out for descriptions
too good to be true.

MegaScam variation.  Seller steals someone's credit
card number, applies for eBay account with it.  Runs an
auction or shop ad for something special that will get lots
of bids. Often using stolen images.  All the seller wants is
lots of bidders so he sets a low reserve.  He gets 150
bidders.  The winner sends his money, the runner up gets
a call telling him the first deal fell through so he wins by
default so he sends money.  He just keeps going down
and down the list.  The money rolls in.  Such sellers can
last at most 3 weeks.  They’ll sometimes set up just across
the state line from their usual haunts, uses untraceable
cell phone and mail drop.  Gets a crackhead named Jake
Snail to set up an account for the checks.  Claims his
name is that, or that all checks get written to J. Snail.  The
crackhead’s account fills up, gives the crackhead his cut
and goes back to his home state.  Can’t be found.  The
police look at the stolen credit card owner. They look at
the site where the images were stolen.  Doesn’t take too
much skill to not get caught.  Takes are often over
$100,000 on this type of scam.      

Confidence helpers.   Scam artist photographs a store.  
Photographs instruments with a salesman.  Even the
instrument he’s going to use for the scam.  Has an eBay ID
or email address that matches the store pretty well.  Posts
the "store’s" phone number - which is his no-contract junk
cell phone.  Victim checks better business report and
sends check or phones in credit card numbers.  The store
and the poor salesman photographed have no connection
and no idea they’re being used in a con.       

Fake bidding keeps price low.  Bidder has 3 eBay
accounts, two fake and used only from a library or
something like that.  Account A bids just over reserve,
which is a good deal.  Then uses Accounts B and C to bid
up over retail.  So there are no other bidders.  Then
retracts the bids with a lame excuse minutes before the
auction ends.  Nobody is tracking the auction because the
price got too high too fast.  You have contracted to sell
something for less than it should have brought.
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