Posted by: brandextenders | June 11, 2011

Silly me, I Thought I was too Smart to be Scammed!

Have you ever done something really dumb and then kicked yourself afterwards because you knew better? Such was the case recently when I got scammed on Ebay despite the warning flags I should have heeded.

Our sons had a Sony PS3, but after the recent hacking and system being down for nearly two months, my son decided to sell it on Ebay. He listed it and got a buyer within a couple of days and we received the “congratulations” note from Ebay giving us the details. I sent a note to the buyer asking that he deposit the funds in PayPal and he asked if we could send it off and he would then deposit it. I politely responded no, I would have to see the money in the account first especially since he wanted me to send it out of the country.

Beware of buying and selling items online

I got two notices from PayPal saying the money had been deposited and once I sent them a tracking number the funds would roll into my account. They looked legit and links I clicked worked so I dutifully sent the PS3 and components off to…red flag #1 that I completely missed…Nigeria! How could I have been so stupid you ask? I’ve been asking myself the same thing. How many emailed letters have you received from royalty in Nigeria saying you are the lucky recipient of $12 bazillion dollars? All you need do is send them a few hundred dollars for processing costs along with all your personal information and then they’ll deposit the $12 bazillion into your bank account. My butt is black and blue from kicking myself so much over that one.

When the money didn’t appear in PayPal I sent several notes to these leeches who responded by saying their bank was having trouble and they would send a check to cover all the costs. I wasn’t going to give them my address and used a friend’s business PO Box instead and the check arrived a few days later. The problem was the check was from someone in Texas I had never heard of and was for $1,000 more than what they owed. When I queried the buyer he said the extra funds were a mistake and I could keep an additional $200 and send him back the balance via Western Union to…Nigeria!

What’s the old saying, “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me? “ We contacted the guy on the check who said his wife had been scammed and they had to close down four bank accounts and start all over. His accounts had been stolen and needless to say this is where the story ends for me, $390 lighter which, all-in-all could have been a lot worse.

So here are a few thoughts to help you avoid getting scammed as I did:

  • Unless you personally know a buyer on Ebay, Craig’s List or wherever, don’t trust them. That’s hard for me, Mr. Trust Everyone to say, but unfortunately these days you can’t.  PayPal is probably the most secure form of payment and until the money is deposited securely into your account don’t send anything anywhere. Period!
  • Don’t assume emails you receive from Ebay, PayPal or other selling sites are real. The forgeries of these emails and fake sites have become excellent. Never, I repeat, never give your ID and password on sites unless you can verify it is the real deal and that isn’t always easy.
  • Do not send items overseas. Only sell to buyers in the continental United States. If they want this item to go overseas, let them do that themselves. First, it’s costly and secondly the chances are you are being scammed if you’re being asked to send a product out of the country.
  • Never use Western Union as a way to accept funds. Never ship something believing that once you offer the tracking number you’ll get paid. And never receive a payment via PayPal and then let the buyer pick the item up in person. Often they will then go back to PayPal and say they never received it and the money will be removed from your account. The only proof of receipt PayPal accepts is an online tracking number.
  • Finally, never fall for a scam where you are sent a check for more than the purchase price and asked to send the balance back to the seller. The check isn’t good and you’ll end up not only being out the price of the product, but the difference of whatever money you sent to the scammer and could also get in legal trouble.

It really sucks to learn the hard way how not to do something and I continue to kick myself although it’s been a good lesson for my teenager to learn you can’t trust everyone.

So I will take heart in a quote from the playwright Oscar Wilde who said, “Whenever a person does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always from the noblest of motives.” At least I hope that’s true! How about you, any lessons our readers can learn from your dumb mistakes?

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