Protecting yourself from scammers – "Bumped" as a reminder to all

Forums General Discussion Protecting yourself from scammers – "Bumped" as a reminder to all

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    Moderator2
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    Moderator

    MOD EDIT 2/15/18: I see a lot of buying and selling happening in the classifieds section recently, and just wanted to bump this back up to the top as a reminder to watch out for yourself and each other!  Best of luck with all your transactions.  Members of AGN, Recently, it seems like there has been a rash of scamming going on across the forums and classifieds sites. This is a terrible thing that is happening. I'd like to turn this negative topic into a positive and constructive way of us helping each other. I would like your input, tricks, ideas, and processes you take to protect yourself when you get that "uneasy feeling". Lets all share with each other methods to protect ourselves.  Don't feel shy about naming another forum either. This is a problem across all forums and classifieds. We at AGN care about our members and want to do whatever we can to help them and the industry as a whole.  Note: This is not a thread about naming names, pointing fingers, etc. I would really like it to be a place for proactive ideas to protect ourselves.  Members, if you have experienced a scam in the past or have proof of a scammer please PM me ALL the information you have. Please put "Scammer info" as the title. Please do not send me info about someone you think is a scammer.  Thank you, Moderator2

    • This topic was modified 5 days ago by Moderator2.
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    Moderator2
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    Always keep in mind, you don’t know who is on the other end of the keyboard. When you’re looking at buying/selling keep this in mind – PROVE IT! Say it out loud to yourself – PROVE IT!

    Even when you’re listing an item, prove it! Prove it to everyone that will see that post.

    WTB ads are a very common place scammers will hit. They claim to have an item. The price is right on. They tell a good story, and they might even have pictures. But, those pictures might have been someone else’s from an ad posted somewhere else. Some research will reveal those pictures and that should be all the proof you need. Have them respond to your WTB ad. Look up their membership and see what type of posts they are posting. Contact them through a different route – ex: If all they’ve been doing is texting you or emailing, have them respond on the forum and then PM them through the forum. 

    Money Orders/Wire Transfers/Unsecured ways of sending money. Just don’t do it. You leave yourself wide open. It’s like handing money to a complete stranger. When you pay the 3% to paypal, you are paying for a protection service. It’s a one-time-use insurance policy just like getting insurance on a package you’re sending. If you’re willing to spend 2K on a rifle, why not add $60 to protect all that hard earned and saved money?

    Check the Email address CAREFULLY. “I’ve got all + on the boi!” Sounds great. Cross reference the email address and give each letter and number your undivided attention. 
    Here’s a fictitious example altered from a real life scam – [email protected] vs. [email protected] The second one is the scammer. The first one is most likely a very nice gentlemen who will have no idea what you’re talking about if you emailed him. It’s not to hard to see the difference when they’re right next to each other. But imagine trying to pick that out over multiple browser pages, in small type, while you’re all wound up about an item that you’ve been wanting for so long, and really want to believe that the search is over. 

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    scrane
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    I always insist that the seller sends me a photo of the gun that includes a piece of paper listing the seller’s name and the current date in that photo to prove he is in possession of the item.

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    Marksman3006
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    Member

    I always speak to the person on the phone. I ask where they work. I then google that place of employment and call the person while they are at work. It surprises them sometimes. I never ship an item without recieving money. Ship signature required. Record all phone conversations…..easy to do with a smartphone. Basically…….be a detective and have a trail that you can PROVE/LINK all the way back to the forum. 99% of all scammers are like most criminals…..theyre stupid….literally. If they were smarter they would have found a better path through life. A little detective work on your part should bust there scam.

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    fe7565
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    “scrane”I always insist that the seller sends me a photo of the gun that includes a piece of paper listing the seller’s name and the current date in that photo to prove he is in possession of the item.

    
Excellent idea.  We all need to realize that the good old days of “gentlemen handshakes” are gone, unless you know the selling/buying party personally and able to verify with them who they are.  I am glad that this forum is taking active steps to bite the scammer-trend so rampant on AA and the Yellow in the ass. Those who are set in their “old” ways and are less internet savvy and not willing to change their ways are already the first ones paying the price. The lessons that can be learned from them may help others though.

    There is a balancing act between your privacy and/or the privacy of the other party and your advertisement sounding genuine and real.  I certainly do not want my name, address, phone number, etc floating around the internet. So, just like the Mod said, I will go the extra mile with the potential buyer/seller to provide them all the information they want in a one-on-one setting once we established contact. For that I prefer to give my email, once they contact me or I contact them I will give them one-on-one my name, address,, phone number (actually call), and anything else that makes them happy and feel assured. The same thing works in reverse: I expect them to be as forthcoming  and transparent as possible. I use Paypal+3% for high value items. Under $100 I may take a chance based on who I am dealing with. I do not have a fixation on Paypal, just do not know of any comparable service out there. Many are still suspicious about Paypal from what they read/heard about it 10 years ago when it was abused at times. But if you use your common sense and a bit of research on the other party you are dealing with, you can reduce the risks significantly. 

    Proper documentation of your shipping and tracking also may protect you from false claims by the other party when using Paypal. Demand the same from the seller if you are on the receiving end.  If the seller or buyer does not cooperate, they are either lazy, or an old-timer who feels invincible (until he is taken down by a scammer), or a person you probably should not be dealing with in the first place. One thing I check often is the Ebay feedback of the other person.  It says a lot about you as a person and as a seller/buyer. 

    I wish there would be an escrow service, a third party (like others also suggested) who holds the payment and the item until both arrive.  Would be hard to find anyone doing this for free and shipping costs would increase for both parties, but in some cases where the total amounts are significant it may be well worth it.  In some cases another airgun member who lives in the same town may be able to physically verify the item (and the person). 

    There is not one single solution for this, but something needs to be done to get rid of the pests who are fleecing this hobby and stealing the hard earned monies from those who been saving up for something they wanted.  For those who are married, these precautions may also save you from getting your ass beaten by your wife for losing a huge sum of money or airguns.

    Ah…one more thing.  If the deal is too good to be true…9 out of 10 cases it’s too good to be true!

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    Barrybittman
    Participant
    Member

    I’ve been the victim of a scam by someone using multiple names on this site and others (Curtis Stine, Curtis Stine Estrada, Curtis Stine Sholar, Curtis Stine Belman, and Ball).  He always states that he cannot upload files on the site, and is “old-fashion” and does not accept PayPal.  He insists on sending USPS money orders.  When you ask for an address, he asks you to send it to his daughter (in my case), his wife, (in another case) – both to Teresa Estrada in Ocoee, Florida.  I checked with another member of this forum and we both sent USPS money orders to the same person, although the seller used a different name.  

    I believe this same guy is active again USING ANOTHER NAME on this site.

    When you request more information, he will contact you through a Google phone number, discuss the item with you, and send you photos. The deal is always based on saving about $500 over the going price in other ads.  He also states that he has a perfect BOI rating, and gives you a name to check (obviously not his).  

    His sales are for items typically over $1700.  I was scammed for that amount which was exactly the same price another member of this forum paid for a different air rifle (scammed by the same character). We exchanged over 30 emails and he has numerous excuses, and hard luck stories.

    PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING

    This is how I realized I was being scammed – although too late:

    When you receive  the photos, upload one to https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl

    This is Google’s reverse search.  Click on the camera icon in the search window, then click on upload an image.  

    I found the item I thought I purchased immediately.  It had been sold by someone else 2 weeks earlier.

    PLEASE DO NOT LET YOURSELF FALL FOR THIS SCAM.  DO NOT SEND MONEY ORDERS, AND CHECK THE PHOTOS.  THIS CHARACTER IS BOLD AND RUTHLESS.

    Hope this helps.

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    wll2506
    Participant
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    I do something similar, but your idea is very good.

    wll2506

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    FunGun
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    What about a third party holding agent?  Buyer and seller send the item and the money to a trusted reputable third party.  For a small handling fee the third party then ships the item and sends the money on to the seller once all parties are satisfied.  I know the details and the expenses to offer such a service would have to be worked out, but just kicking out an idea.

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    TDK
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    Member

    A common solution to this sort of thing in the bitcoin community is to use escrow.  In fact, if you do not have a solid established reputation and the exchange you are trying to do is of significant value, most people will ONLY do business with you through escrow.

    It is simple:  trusted forum/community members provide escrow service for a small percentage.  The money is sent to the escrow provider first, and they hold on to it until the byer confirms the goods have been received.  Yes, paypal claims to offer similar protection, but their service and reputation surrounding disputes is poor, especially towards sellers.  A trusted community member will provide FAR better service in case of a dispute.  You could even go so far as to have both the money and gun sent to the escrow provider first if you were really leery of the transaction.

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    TDK
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    “FunGun”What about a third party holding agent?  Buyer and seller send the item and the money to a trusted reputable third party.  For a small handling fee the third party then ships the item and sends the money on to the seller once all parties are satisfied.  I know the details and the expenses to offer such a service would have to be worked out, but just kicking out an idea.

    
Beat me to it due to my slow reply!

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    FunGun
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    TDK…..Just goes to show…..great minds think alike. LOL.

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    plinker
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    The worst thing you can do is be in a hurry. I gather messaged info then call and speak in person to verify what has been stated. If I can’t find the person through a google search and/or match an address with them or with the phone number, I expect some other proof. If the price is to good to believe then don’t believe it. I’d rather spend $ $1700 and get a gun, than $1500 and get nothing. I have done many transactions on gunbroker buying and selling. They have a verification and history rating that helps. CHECK THEIR PROFILE HERE. If they just joined and only to sell, be doubtful. That doesn’t always help as in with an over zealous member we recently had here. But he had other warning signals of almost a hyperactive buy/ sell /trade mentality. Not a stable person. If there is any doubt as in placing the money in someone else’s name or multiple addresses- DON’T do it.

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    fe7565
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    “TDK”A common solution to this sort of thing in the bitcoin community is to use escrow.  In fact, if you do not have a solid established reputation and the exchange you are trying to do is of significant value, most people will ONLY do business with you through escrow.

    It is simple:  trusted forum/community members provide escrow service for a small percentage.  The money is sent to the escrow provider first, and they hold on to it until the byer confirms the goods have been received.  Yes, paypal claims to offer similar protection, but their service and reputation surrounding disputes is poor, especially towards sellers.  A trusted community member will provide FAR better service in case of a dispute.  You could even go so far as to have both the money and gun sent to the escrow provider first if you were really leery of the transaction.

    
I am all for this!   This is an especially useful service for new members who do not have a lot of feedback and/or do not have a lot of experience with selling/buying on the classifieds,  There is nothing worse then getting ripped off on your first airgun hobby purchase, or being treated with distrust or treated like a potential scammer because have not yet established a reputation. I certainly much much sceptical with such newcomers….deservedly or not…sorry.

     

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    JDShapp
    Participant
    Member

    Since I don’t tend to sell air rifles unless I have to, and since I tend to sell on the low side what I do is this. I make a scope cam video of shooting targets with the rifle I’m selling, then post pictures of those same targets together. Also as much as I don’t like speaking in any shape or form I say which rifle it is I’m shooting and what distance. Another thing is I prefer to use paypal, and I never ship anything until the money clears.

    I’m extra cautious of doing any buying off forums at all, and then I’d rather much use paypal and pay the transaction fee. At least that way there is some sort of minor protection, and a better chance at getting my money back if something does go south.

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    The_one
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    Member

    Barrybittman

    This is Google’s reverse search.  Click on the camera icon in the search window, then click on upload an image.  

    I found the item I thought I purchased immediately.  It had been sold by someone else 2 weeks earlier.

    PLEASE DO NOT LET YOURSELF FALL FOR THIS SCAM.  DO NOT SEND MONEY ORDERS, AND CHECK THE PHOTOS.  THIS CHARACTER IS BOLD AND RUTHLESS.

    Hope this helps.

    For users of mobile devices, namely android powered devices, simply hold your finger on the image (any image)for a moment and a dialog box will open asking if you want to save the image, open in new tab, etc…. however, one of your options is to “search Google for this image”. If you choose the “search Google for this image”, any and all relevant Internet pages/locations that google can match the image to will be displayed……….there by showing you where and when this image may be pirated from. Bottom line, if somebody sends you a picture of the item for sale, and you search Google for the image and it comes up as a picture that can be traced to multiple Web pages…….you’re probably about to be scammed. This type of search also works with email addresses, and names associated with scamming. Simply type the email address of the suspected scammer into the Google search bar like so “[email protected] scam/scammer” and hit the search button.

    This may be old hat to some of the younger members, but I thought I should at least put it out there.

    “May all scammers be shot repeatedly, directly in their exposed sphincter, with a worn out red ryder bb gun until the operator of the sphincter trauma inducing bb gun can no longer cock the gun due to sheer physical exhaustion.”

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    Kitplanenut
    Participant
    Member

    My son does a lot of transactions through his business unrelated to airguns. He advises and uses bitcoin and escrow. Just a thought to bump around. You can’t know everybody in the airgun community, but collectively it’s a big group. If I have met someone at say EBR or one of the other shoots and have talked to them, know they are who they say they are and could easily find an address for them, I feel at ease doing business with them. If we formed a buyer/seller group listing our names with the criteria being that two others had to vouch for you to be in the group, that would virtually eliminate the scammers. It would be easy and cost nothing. You could get a the moderator to post the list of accepted names in the group. It would be nice to have a buy-in, say 10 to 20.00 dollars just to compensate the moderator for their time.  Even if you were not in the group, buying from the group would be way more secure. It’s not fool proof, but close and it would grow.

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    JoeWayneRhea
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    Member

    The method I feel safest about is talking on the phone . A GOOGLE phone number will shut me down instantly… If you can afford to ” play” in our little 1000$ BBgun club your ass has a phone and an address !!!
    While I have bought 2 guns for a buddy who doesn’t post on forums but just reads them all transactions went to my address. And I almost always offer to meet in person if someone is in the East Texas area .
    If I see the word ” item” when someone replies I delete mail instantly and send it to spam so I never see another from that address.

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    T3PRanch
    Participant
    Member

    First of all Prohibit PayPal Family and Friends payments completely. 3% of purchase is not too much to pay for a “little” insurance.

    Also sellers should build the 3% into their price just like the fact most give a price shipped.

    Total protection…not at all but the only total protection is a face to face transaction in a public place.

    I don’t much like the phone as I did internet tech support for 12 years on the phone for mostly id10T users (most famous question was “where is the space bar”) but if needed for a sale or purchase then that is a totally different deal and I do not mind.

    Additionally on Ham radio forums all pictures of items for sale must be branded with the sellers Call Sign. I think someone has already mentioned a similar concept here and that is a good idea too. The branding should be placed in a spot that cannot be cropped out easily.

    Thurmond
    K5TWM

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    fe7565
    Participant
    Member

    Thurmond,

    Good idea with the watermark.  Can place an opaque watermark in the middle or where it’s not easy to crop it out.

    Google’s “Picasa” (free, easy to use picture software) has that feature.  Here is a how-to….got to the Picasa paragraph , which is the third one down.

    http://www.wikihow.com/Add-a-Watermark-to-Photos#Adding_a_Watermark_in_Google_Picasa_sub

    http://www.wikihow.com/Add-a-Watermark-to-Photos

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    plinker
    Participant
    Member

    “JoeWayneRhea”…If you can afford to ” play” in our little 1000$ BBgun club your ass has a phone and an address !!!…
     

    
😆😂 Joe, you crack me up! That’s a good observation and well stated. 

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