…having just stumbled over another one. here’s a few thoughts to help avoid them.

Money transfer

Quite common on ebay at the moment, you buy something and the seller asks for bank transfer, Western Union or MoneyGram payment. That should set off alarm bells immediately. Bank transfers are hard to reverse and accounts are easier to set up than you imagine. Western Union and MoneyGram are effectively untraceable given there are hundreds of thousands of agents throughout the World, usually in little shops. This form of payment also takes you outside the safety net of Paypal. Say what you like about ebay but their system favours the buyer, stray from it at your peril.

Bait and Switch

Commonly used in property rentals. You see a property advertised for rent and call them, sadly it’s just gone but there’s another one, usually not as good and more expensive.

Cheque Overpayment

You sell something and the buyer sends a cheque. Oops, it’s made out for too much, never mind, M8, just send me a cheque for the difference. The buyers cheque bounces but yours doesn’t. Relies on the fact that banks clear cheques in 4 days on your statement but in reality it takes 10 days.


Can be anything but it’s the best price anywhere, ever! Look up ‘Ainsworth Scammers’ on Google, they’ve been making a living out of this for years. Works on other products too and usually includes a variation of the money transfer scam above.

Things that should ring alarm bells:

i) It’s an unwanted present – yeah right, I get £500 laptops all the time from my family 
ii) Addresses that turn out to be offices used for registering companies
iii) You’ve never heard of them and neither has anyone else you talk to
iv) A ‘throwaway’ e-mail address i.e. Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo


You can’t trust feedback because if a number of people are working together it’s easy to artificially boost feedback by selling a few things amongst themselves. Once they have some positive feedback the sting usually follows. There’s one on Ebay at the moment in the motor parts and salvage area. Cogrow Ltd are a relatively new company but there have been several complaints about sending money but no items get delivered. Usually, payment is requested by bank transfer but that takes you outside the protection of the Ebay/Paypal system which favours the buyer. That you can expect more scams on Ebay is a given really.

Finally, watch out for:

The Double Act

You do everything right, agree to meet in a public place so you can view the goods, don’t pay until you’ve tried out that nice, shiny laptop complete with accessories, case etc. Then you put it in your bag and sort out the cash. When you get home it’s mysteriously turned into a bag of potatoes – because his mate swapped it out while you were doing the money.

Trust no-one and you won’t go far wrong