Earlier this week, Ray showed me a Harley on Craigslist that seemed like a good price and while it was in a different city that we’re in, it was only about a 4 hour drive away so we figured we could run up on the weekend, take a look and then make a decision. So, we replied to the ad and a day later we received a response that the guy had posted the bike for his sister and we should contact her directly.
Several emails later, we discovered that the bike was actually half way across the country but that she would include the shipping in the advertised price. She then told us that she would do the sale with a neutral third party so that we were fully protected buying something sight unseen. Is your spidey sense tingling yet that something is fishy? Ours wasn’t. We agreed that this was a reasonable idea and while I was at work, Ray went ahead and did the transfer through the third party; Amazon. I’d taken a look at the info and website and saw no issue with it so I agreed to the whole thing.
That night we were sitting up a bit later than normal and I got curious as to how Amazon would actually undertake to ship a motorcycle to us, was it crated, on a flat deck, shipped in pieces? I started googling and about three clicks in, all the blood left my body and I nearly fainted. We’d been scammed….out of $5000. The “Amazon” website was a mirror of the real site and the link to register and pay was to a scammer website…which we didn’t notice. The emails that I’d been having back and forth with this woman about “her bike” I saw verbatim by the hundreds on various different forums, all people posting about how they’d been ripped off. For a split second……I didn’t want to tell Ray what had happened, how do you tell your husband that he just threw away $5000?! I did tell him and he proceeded to tell me that the method of payment transfer he’d done was a wire transfer. Are you cringing now??? I googled again and discovered that wire transfer is next to impossible to stop, once it’s done, you’re effed! We called the bank but since it was 10pm at night there was no one there. We spent that night laying in bed, wide awake, sweating and nauseated. We’d just given criminals $5000 and had no way of knowing if we could fix it.
The next morning Ray was standing on the bank’s doorstep when they opened and thank GOD, they’d sent the request to their head office where it sat overnight, untouched! Within 1 hour the money was back in Ray’s bank account and we were breathing several sighs of relief (and buying a huge bouquet of flowers for the girls at the bank!). The “woman” who is selling the bike has still been emailing me, she doesn’t know that we’ve cancelled the wire transfer. I’ll be interested to see what her response is in a couple of days when no money is in her account!
The moral of this story? There are a couple. First, Ray’s comment to me was that we could never tell anyone what had happened. I completely disagree! Embarrassment and shame is the reason that these asshats get away with this….because when the people who get stung don’t say anything, it doesn’t spread the word about what risks are out there. For that reason, the second point of me telling this story is to point out some things that my hubby and I did not know and maybe you don’t know either:
- Wire transfers are BAD and are usually ONLY used for scams…especially if it’s a high dollar value
- “3rd Party” is a big tip off that it’s a scam
- Only scammers will “guarantee” the transaction
We have successfully bought and sold high ticket items on the internet before and never had an issue. We’ve been lucky. We had No Idea the scams that were out there, the shady people, the risky ventures. It’s just not something that’s ever come up on our radar. I’m not embarrassed that we got caught (very nearly!), I’m pissed off and indignant. These people are very, VERY good at what they do, if you don’t know the warning signs, as we didn’t, you can be taken and that doesn’t speak to your intelligence. We are very smart, head’s up people who can usually spot something a mile away. The scammers are getting better, their outward appearance is absolutely spot on and that visual confidence makes us complacent; they prey on that.
The emails that these criminals sent to me are copied below….you can find various version (some verbatim including spelling mistakes) with a simple google search of “escrow fraud”.
EMAIL #1 (included 17 high resolution images of the motorcycle from every conceivable angle)
Hello, it has 23123 km’s. This bike has absolutely no mechanical problems, no accidents, the engine has no leaks or problems.
I am letting it go with shipping and handling included. The bike is now in Winnipeg, Manitoba, ready to be delivered to its buyer with all the documents.
Because I am not able to close the deal myself( I work a lot, 12 hours daily), I want to use a third party to handle the sale. This way we are both protected.
Let me know if you’re interested and if you have questions.
Yes the entire deal will cost you $5.000. All the shipping fee’s are paid by me. Please let me explain to you how this works. You will have to make the payment to Amazon Payments. The shipping will be started in 24 hours after your payment is confirmed. The bike will be delivered in 3 or 4 days. From the moment it arrives at your door, you will have 5 days to test and inspect it. If it doesn’t match my description or if you find anything wrong with it, Amazon Payments will refund your money is 3 working days and I will be in charge of the return shipping fee. They will hold the money until you confirm that the bike is as expected.
This way we are both protected. I am sure that you have the funds to buy it and you can verify that the bike is as advertised knowing that a 3rd party has the payment secured.
In order to start the transaction, please click here to go on AmazonPayments and register, once you do that, Amazon Payments will send you the invoice with all the payment and shipping details.
I’m not including the actual link or the documents that were sent to us because I don’t want to perpetuate the scam. Needless to say, the documents were completely legitimate looking and did I not know now that we’d been scammed, I would still believe we were dealing with Amazon themselves.
Be safe out there in the interwebs!