Online selling scam

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Video transcript: Online selling scam (Word, 31KB)

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How the scam works

Scammers pose as both sellers and buyers.

When they pose as buyers, scammers may pretend to pay too much, then ask you to pay the difference back to them. They use fake emails, from what appears to be a reputable company offering money transfer or payment services, confirming you received an overpayment.

Whether they send an overpayment or the correct amount, after you send them your item, you will find out that no money was paid into your account.

Scammers posing as sellers often post fake advertisements offering non-existent products, for low prices. These may appear on genuine websites, online classifieds and online auction sites.

Some scammers hijack reputable sellers’ advertisements, business details, logos and seller feedback profiles to fool you into believing they are trustworthy. Often they will ask you to transfer the money through a money wiring service. Scammers may also use fake money payment services and escrow  (third party security deposit) websites that look real. You end up paying for goods that never arrive.

Protect yourself when buying:

  • Be wary of sellers offering goods and well known brands at extremely low prices. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Do not provide an up-front payment to a stranger via money order or wire transfer.
  • Use secure payment options, such as Paypal or credit card.
  • Do an internet search using the exact wording in the ad - many versions of this scam can be identified this way.

Protect yourself when selling:

  • If you get an email confirming that payment has been made, do not follow the link in the email to log in to your account with the payment service.
  • Log into your account directly and check that the money has cleared, before sending the item.
  • Be extra cautious of anyone asking to buy directly from you, rather than through an auction site or classifieds forum.