As you know, we are heading back home from Australia soon and selling our stuff. We advertise it in multiple places, but mainly on Gumtree. It’s been mainly pleasant experience so far, and I’ve got a couple of good leads from this site.
What I would like to share with you is one PayPal scam that we almost fell victims of today. It all started in the morning when I got this mail from someone who supposedly wanted to buy our bedroom set. He asked for the lowest possible price and then came back with an interesting message where offered slightly more than I asked and told that he just moved to UK. He wanted to pay immediately and instruct his shipping agent to pick up the furniture. He offered to pay full price via PayPal and (politely) asked if I had more pictures since he’s unable to inspect the stuff himself.
That alone was suspicious enough, but at that moment we didn’t see how was it possible to scam us. I expressed how surprised I am to hear that he ships this furniture overseas, but told him my PayPal email address to transfer the payment to as agreed.
After this I get an email with the request to remove the ad and to provide my home address for pick up. At this point I started to feel something isn’t right…
I do a quick search and find that most online auctions and ad sites warn you about this scenario – someone offers you a great deal (that’s why they pay you more than you ask), they pay you straight away to your PayPal account, then you ship your stuff to an unverified location (or better yet, they pick it up locally and drive away in an unknown direction).
Now the fun part comes when PayPal figures that either the credit card was stollen, or they used the cheque that can’t be debited to your account and you lose your money. If you were lucky enough and withdrawn the cash from your PayPal account disconnecting your real account and CC from it, the worst that happens is that your PayPal balance goes negative and you are unable to use PayPal until you repay.
In my case, since I already sent them my PayPal email, I had to quickly disconnect it from my account. It would have been extremely unpleasant to find them sending me the payment. So I made everything possible not to receive it in the first place.
So how did I know it was the scam. I didn’t. At least not for sure, but there are some signs that made me suspicious:
1. They offered more than I asked. Looks like a lure. Have you ever seen anyone offering you more than you ask? I mean, Ever?
2. They agreed to any my conditions without any discussions. I wanted to keep furniture until the very date of departure. However…
3. They wanted to pay fast and take the ad off the site. In fact, they wanted to pay me NOW. In every letter I could see at least a couple “immediately”.
4. Is there any furniture in UK? What’s the point in purchasing it here and spend $2k on shipment? That’s stupid if nothing else. I’m not selling rarities after all.
My final response was the polite decline of the deal on the grounds that PayPal payments don’t look secure in this context and that I was advised not to accept them. Never heard from them before.
I hope this helps someone and saves from a lot of trouble. Trade safely!