Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Local Classifieds and International Scams

Most local classifieds sales are done successfully with both buyer and seller experiencing exactly what they expected. That’s the great thing about dealing locally, you get to communicate directly with the person buying or selling, they usually live near by, and you arrange to meet them to complete the deal honorably.

With the advent of classifieds ads online, buyers and sellers can now be contacted from international con artists with enticing emails to con them of their hard earned money.

These con artists can be extremely bright and think of new ways to trick you each day. They usually take advantage of people’s gullibility or manipulate online payment agencies and banking policies in subtle ways to rob you.

With these bright con artists out there I cannot over emphasize the importance of dealing locally or exercising extreme caution when dealing internationally. There are countless webpages now expounding the unfortunate experiences of duped people. Use these pages to avoid being the next victim.

Here are a few common methods and warning signs of online fraud:

1] Firstly, if any of your deals involve a person living in Eastern Europe or Africa forget about it. These countries house the vast majority of online con artists due to their lax laws or inability to enforce them.

2] You are offered a cashiers check or money order that exceeds the price of the item for sale, the buyer asks you to return the balance exceeding the price of the goods. Sounds good doesn’t it? You are receiving money, how can you lose out here? Your bank will often cash this check and then you normally ship the item and extra cash back to the buyer. Unfortunately that’s just the beginning of your troubles. The bank later investigates the check and discovers it’s a fraud and gets it’s money back from you ! This is after you shipped your goods and returned the overpayment amount. A double whammy !

3] Buyer gets you to ship an item after you think Western Union is sending you money. The buyer cons you by sending a fake email that looks like it’s from Western Union saying you will have funds released to you after sending the shipping/tracking number from Fed Ex, in other words, you’ve shipped the product already. Once you send them the tracking number you’re out of luck, they will receive the item and you later find out Western Union doesn’t have any money for you.

Unfortunately the banks and Western Union are not protecting you as much as you would have hoped or assumed in these cases. Some have suggested they have little incentive as they are making money from these transactions and you are stuck with the bills. Western Union is probably the most commonly used agency for these frauds.

So it’s really up to you to investigate when buying and selling internationally, no one else is going to help you if conned. Sending emails to third world countries law enforcement agencies to investigate the perpetrator is a fruitless endeavor. Even if it occurs within your own country of origin you will still likely not recoup any money.

I’ve painted a bleak picture but this is just of the bad apples out there, there are a majority of decent law abiding people out there making transactions. The rates of fraud are difficult to determine as most people cannot do anything about it after is happens and do not report it. The businesses involved also do not advertise these facts, or simply hide them or provide statements which are obviously overly optimistic to save face (eBay is guilty of this) I’ve heard an estimate of 1 in 100 transactions are actual frauds, eBay has quoted 1 in 40000 !

If a deal sounds too good to be true, trust your instincts and get out while the going is good or research anything suspicious before committing to any transaction. Ultimately you’re on your own when buying and selling internationally.

Paul Fezziwig writes for and administers 'Canadian Classifieds', http://www.cdncc.com , a website devoted to free local classifieds of all buy and sell ads.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Paul_Fezziwig

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