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Scam Warning

A number of advertisers in our Market section have received approaches from scammers.

We have observed three styles of approach, all by e-mail.

Number 1 has been advised in motor cycle press publications for some years, and concerns people selling bikes, where the vendor receives an e-mail along the lines of: "i am sending you my paycheck of the month via my bank, you are to deduct the cost of your item and send the balance to my shipping agent, who will come down for pickup at your home as they have other items they are shipping to me".  There are a number of variations on this theme, but basically the vendor will receive a dud cheque or stolen bankers draft that exceeds the value of the vehicle.  A 'man with van' comes to collect the vehicle within 1 or 2 days (before the cheque has cleared), and says he has been told to collect cash or cheque to cover the overpayment.

One variation on this is where the vendor might be sent a draft or cheque as, say, a 10% deposit.  When it arrives the seller finds it's somewhat overpaid.  Contacting the 'buyer', he says that there's been a mix up on the draft as he's buying other vehicles and sent the wrong one, but never mind, bank it anyway.  Then a day or so later they contact again to say the vehicle was being bought for a customer, who's now backed out, but they'll honour the deposit, so please send a cheque back to the overpaid value minus the 10% overpayment.

In a third variation, the cheque is supplied and is allowed time to clear.  The cheque involved is usually genuine but stolen and relates to a genuine account, often a company account.  The bank honours the cheque and the vendor receives the money; shortly after, the goods + excess money are collected.  The fraudulent transaction is not noticed till the debited account holder sees a bank statement.  The money still belongs to the debited account so has to be returned by the victim.  If a cheque cleared into your account is the result of a fraudulent transaction then the money still belongs to the debited account and has to be returned in full even if it's not noticed for months.

Number 2 is where advertisers wanting parts are approached by e-mail from someonewho says he is breaking a bike with the parts the advertiser wants.  If they send payment, then he will get his mechanic to take off the parts and post them on.  If the advertiser asks for a picture of the parts, the scammer lifts a picture off the net of the appropriate machine, and mails it back.  Usually the bike in the picture is obviously too good to break, and in one case the advertiser even received a picture back of his own bike!

Number 3 applies to both 'For Sale' and 'Wanted' adverts.  Here's a description from one of our advertisers who was approahed in this way:

Thanks for placing my advert.  Had a very strange e-mail this morning from a person pretending to be from Liverpool, although the wording was obviously written by someone with no grasp of English!  Decided to ring the number from a call box (20p) only to be diverted to a chat line.  Sorted out three hot dates but still not got the parts!

We don't need to tell you these scammers are the vilest, lowlife, scum-of-the-Earth, but advertisers do need to be aware that there are these rubbish people about.  Our advice is to be cautious, and ascertain the authenticity of the person you are dealing with.  There are people who have lost vehicles and money to these scams.  A few simple check questions about who they are, and where they are, will usually result in the rogue contact mysteriously disappearing.

There's no point in posting any scammer names or e-mail addresses, since these are invariably fake and change by the day.  Sadly the authorities put little effort into busting these scammers, so they are out there, and it's up to you to be careful.

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