Selling online? Be wary of scams!
Posted on: 20th January, 2020
I’m trying to sell a mobile phone. It’s a Samsung Galaxy S8, only 18 months old, in excellent condition.
I don’t like the steep charges of Ebay, so I tried Gumtree.com. They let you advertise for free, unless you wish to make your advert “featured” or to otherwise bump it up the listings.
Initially, I was contacted by “Jade”. She wanted to pay through PayPal and sent me the cash through an “eCheque”. This is a PayPal system where the sender doesn’t have a PayPal account, or may not have a credit card or bank account linked with their PayPal account.
Jade asked me to send the phone as soon as possible, but PayPal warn against sending the goods until an eCheque has cleared. And this can take 10 working days.
The eCheque didn’t clear, so I contacted Jade, after 10 working days, to say that I wasn’t yet able to send the phone.
She cancelled the eCheque.
So, I re-advertised the phone, again on Gumtree.com. Within about 5 seconds of posting the ad I had a response from “Susan”! Is the phone still available? Yes, it is. Great, I’ll pay you through PayPal now! Fantastic.
Within seconds I had an email from PayPal telling me the funds were in my account. Followed by another email with the buyer’s address.
And there’s the scam. The email “from PayPal” had a typo in the email address. “micheal” rather than “michael”. The email still gets through to me, as it’s a common error, but PayPal systems are surely automated?
Outlook lets me see the actual address the email has come from. In this case it showed, “Notification Via PayPal email@example.com”
They haven’t even bothered to spoof a more realistic PayPal address.
The bit of their email that I particularly enjoyed reads,
“We are informing you that the transaction between You and Susan fowler is under processing. We will credit your account as soon as we receive the Royal Mail Shipment tracking number for proper verification so that PayPal accounting department can post the total £220.00 GBP to your account today.
We implore you to trust our method and stay calm on this policy as we are trying to protect you and the buyer as well. So do proceed with the shipment and email us back with the Royal Mail Shipment tracking number. The money will show up in your account once the Royal Mail Shipment tracking number is received from you and we assure you that this transaction is safe and secure.“
Well, what can I say? They’ve implored me to trust their method and to stay calm! Must be legit!
If you get any such emails read them carefully. Is the spelling and grammar as good as it should be from a professional outfit? Does their email address look right? Could it all be too good to be true?
Obviously I tried to contact Gumtree.com to warn them of this scammer at work. Surely they have a reputation to protect? The email address that they ask concerned sellers to contact them on bounces back an email telling us that the address is not monitored.
Going through their website Contact Form takes you away from the secure part of their website (denoted by HTTPS), to a non-secure part. The Google Chrome browser shows a warning about this. That in itself triggers my internal alarm bells. Is Gumtree.com at all a safe environment?
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