How Does This Scam Work?
It is true that many online sellers are legitimate. However, unfortunately it is also very true that scammers can and will use the anonymous nature of the internet to rip off and defraud unsuspecting shoppers and buyers. But you have to remember that scammers are also usually one step ahead of the game. They will come up with some new idea every time one of their latest schemes gets blown out of the water. You need to be vigilant and very careful whenever you’re checking out a tempting offer or clicking on an intriguing pop-up advertisement.
They Use Fake Retailer Websites
Scammers will use the latest technology to set up fake retailer websites that are made to look like legitimate, genuine online retail stores. They may use sophisticated designs and layouts and possibly stolen corporate logos. The biggest red flag or sign that a retail website is a scam will be the method of payment. Scammers will usually ask you to pay by using a money order, a pre-loaded debit card, or a wire transfer. The bad news is that if you send your money this way, it is very unlikely you will see it again or actually receive the item you purchased.
They Use Online Auction Websites
Most online auction sites like EBay, have very strict policies to ensure that their customers are not scammed. Scammers are aware of this and they will often attempt to get people to make a deal outside of the auction website. Scammers may claim that the winner of their auction that you were bidding on has backed out and then will offer the item for sale to you outside the auction website. Once they have your money, you will never hear from them again. Additionally, the auction website won’t be able to help you get your money back.
They Use Online Classified Websites
Online classified websites will promote the sale of goods and services. However, they allow sellers and potential buyers to negotiate a selling price outside of the website. Scammers will pose as legitimate sellers and will post fake ads. This could be for anything such as real estate, used cars, travel trailers, and even horses. The scammers will usually advertise items at a price much lower than comparable items that are advertised on the same website. This is known as a Classified Scam. When you show interest in the item for sale, the scammer then may claim that they are traveling or that they have moved overseas. They will then state that their agent will deliver the item after receiving full payment. After you make full payment, you will receive a fake email receipt that claims to be from the website’s secure payment provider. However, you will not receive your item and you will not be able to contact the seller.
Buyers Can Be Scammers, As Well
Scammers may also pose as buyers. They will send you a check for more than the required payment on an item and then ask you to refund the difference. These are known as Overpayment Scams. Before the check can be cleared by your bank, the scammer will contact you with an apology for their over payment and offer a fake excuse. The scammer then asks you to refund the excess amount directly back to them. This is usually through an online banking transfer, pre-loaded debit card, or a wire transfer such as Western Union. This all happens before you discover that their check has bounced. If you actually did send any money, you are not going to get it back. Also, if you have already sent the item you sold to the scammer, you are going to lose this as well. On auction websites such as EBay, you may come in contact with a buyer who will pay for an item with a credit card or through PayPal. They will then request a refund when the item has been delivered. These buyers may claim your item has been damaged, is not as described, or that it never actually arrived.
Warning Signs For Online Shopping Scams
- A product may be advertised at an unbelievably low price. It also could be advertised having amazing features and/or benefits that will sound too good to be true.
- The selling party insists on receiving immediate payment or require payment by electronic funds transfer or a wire service.
- Watch for an online auction seller and any initial bidders that have a very poor rating. Also, beware if the seller wants to complete the sale outside of the actual auction website.
You Can Protect Yourself
- When you use retail websites, find out exactly who you are dealing with and verify that they are a legitimate company.
- When making online payments, only pay for items using a secure payment service—look for a URL starting with ‘https’ and a closed padlock symbol, or a payment provider such as PayPal.
- When you are buy from an online classifieds website, make your payment only when you have received and physically inspected the goods
- When using an online auction website, check all of the customer comments and the ratings for the seller you are considering buying from. Don’t ever trade outside of the auction website.
- Don’t make a payment arrangement with a person you don’t know who is asking for up-front payment by way of money order, wire transfer, pre-loaded debit card or electronic currency.
- Check if the online auction site or the seller’s website has a refund or returns policy. Be sure to also verify that their policy is fair.
Well, there you have it. I have given you many solid ways to avoid losing your hard-earned money when using online transactions. If you follow these rules, you will better enjoy your online shopping experience.
Have you been scammed?
If you have bought something online and there is a problem, you should first try to contact the retailer or auction company. There may be a legitimate reason for the problem.
If you are not satisfied with the sellers response and you suspect that you are a victim of a Scam:
- You should contact your financial institution immediately upon suspecting or discovering a fraudulent transfer.
- You can request that your bank reach out to the financial institution where the fraudulent transfer was sent.
- You can request that your bank or credit card company charge back the purchase.
- You can contact local law enforcement.
- You can file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at: https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx
- You can do so regardless of the amount of the loss.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I hope it has informed and help you in some way. If you have questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. If you know of a scam that needs to be reported, please leave the info in the Comment section and I will be glad to investigate.