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Buy and Sell scam and recovery -- a happy ending and lessons learned.

Discussion in 'The Watering Hole' started by WT21, Jun 28, 2011.

  1. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    Well, it finally happened to me. After 2+ years of heavy buying and selling online, I finally got scammed.

    I Posted on POTN (photography-on-the.net -- a Canon user website) for a 17-40mm Canon lens. Someone contacted me (username: Municty), with history on POTN (though a short history) and who was paypal verified (though recently verified).

    I asked for pictures, they sent that to me vie regular e-mail, so I have an e-mail address that looked reasonable (i.e. not 38asfh94r@gmail.com or some such, but a person's name: jeanduf01@gmail.com). Also, it wasn't a "too good to be true" price. It was a reasonable price ($650, and supposedly included a 77mm Hoya HMC filter).

    So, a posting history on POTN, paypal verified, a reasonable e-mail and product pictures. Sent my money, and never heard from them again. After a couple of days, I put the payment into dispute after I noticed the users inbox was full on POTN (a PM returned with "inbox full) and another clue (see #3, below). I alerted POTN, who must have reviewed the users activity, and then banned them. So, I might not have been the only one.

    Four take-aways:
    1) The user had posting history, but rereading the history, it's nothing but one-liners ("I like it" and "nice work"). Not enough substance. From now on, no buying and selling from newbies for anything of value (sorry newbies), and more scrutiny on their actual posting history.

    2) I see now paypal verification date and their joining POTN was the same time frame, so clearly they came to scam. I will again limit substantive transactions to people with established histories in Paypal and the forum site.

    3) I checked this web page: https://www.paypal.com/us/verified/pal=email, where "email" is replaced by the actual user's e-mail, and it's supposed to tell you if the user is PP verified. This paypal check said they were. But AFTER payment, paypal reported in my receipt letter that the address is "non-US Verified" which is what immediately alerted me to a possible scam. I am upset that paypal allows this. Confirms "verified" in the background check page, but after the transaction you get a report that says "non-US verified." I would have liked to have known that up front.

    4) The case was found in my favor, and paypal covered my loss. Yeah PayPal! The lesson though? I'll never use paypal gift (as many buyers suggest, in order to get a price reduction) and I'll not sell to non-verified buyers (maybe things like $20 adapters, but nothing of substance). It was doing PayPal the right way that protected me. If I had used gift, or transacted with a non-verified user, I would have eaten the loss.

    In the end, I think I trusted the "verified" status too much, and was too eager for the lens. I should look at all the other factors. I'll certainly be more careful in the future. I am pleased with the fast acting mods on POTN and also the dispute resolution at Paypal. Once burned, twice shy, and I resolve this won't happen to me again, but I thought I should pass on my lesson to my friends at mu-43.
    • Like Like x 30
  2. Luke

    Luke Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 30, 2010
    Milwaukee, WI
    good reminder. I often think the "Paypal gift" request to be a bit ridiculous.....really 3 or 4 % makes that big a difference?

    Be safe and protect yourself.....buying and selling.
  3. Grinch

    Grinch Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 9, 2011
    Glad to hear you came out fairly unscathed. I have been fearful of dealing on other forums, as the communities seem so large it's hard to tell who's a straight shooter and who's not. I think we are a little spoiled here, as the regulars are a smaller group, and trust is not so much an issue. On the upside now you have cash for your new e-p3 and m43 glass instead.
  4. Jordan

    Jordan Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 9, 2011
    Houston, TX
    Thanks for the heads up and glad PayPal got you your money back.
  5. SnapHappy

    SnapHappy Mu-43 Rookie

    May 31, 2011
    Tampa Bay
    Wow, sorry about what happened to you.
    Thanks for sharing, it wouldn't have occurred to me to look too far into the specifics of what they were posting. Thanks for the warning.
  6. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    That's exactly what I was panicky about!
  7. Armanius

    Armanius Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2010
    Sorry for the bad experience. I've been contemplating selling some of my gear online in sites like Fred Miranda. But I'm pretty hesitant as a newb with no reputation. Plus, I'm also hesitant shipping stuff into oblivion. Fortunately, I've had a couple of good sales transactions so far via MU-43 and SeriousCompacts. Keeping my fingers crossed on future ones. :) 
  8. crsnydertx

    crsnydertx Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 31, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Bill, I recall that you were extremely careful in contemplating whether to sell your Panny 45mm f/2.8 to me a few weeks ago, as my buy/sell history isn't deep. Fortunately for me, I was able to convince you that I was a serious buyer!

    For those of us who only transact business this way infrequently, the bar gets raised when scammers enter the market. No easy answers. I'm sitting with a pile of lightly used DSLR equipment I should sell (including, ironically, a Canon 17-40mm) but now wonder if legitimately concerned buyers will shy away.

    Caveat emptor....caveat venditor.....
  9. leonberdi

    leonberdi Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 15, 2011
    Glad to hear that everything turned out ok. Luckily that's never happened to me, but I'm encouraged that Paypal responded so well, and so fast. I've always had a lingering doubt with Paypal.... "What if I get screwed over?"
  10. pxpaulx

    pxpaulx Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 19, 2010
    You're always better safe than sorry. If someone is new to the forum (I buy/sell here and more at pentaxforums), I ask where I can find some history on them, i.e. another forum, ebay username, etc. I also search myself. Google is your friend - put their username in and see what comes up (for instance, if you google mine, you'll get endless pages of photography links, probably some posts about GPSs and Honda Elements).

    Never sell or pay through paypal via gift - you have no recourse. Always ship to the verified address, always insured, and as paypal requires now, signature confirmation about $250 (or less at your own discretion).
    • Like Like x 1
  11. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    I missed the fact that PP now requires signature confirm. I'll have to start doing that, too!!

    All this being said, btw, I personally do not intend to stop trading on FM, POTN or m43, but just be more cautious.
  12. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    Chuck, it was the money from the PL45 that I used to "purchase" the 17-40, lol. If you need me to vouch for our transaction at any time, just let me know. Happy to help. btw, your position as a site supporter also made me breath a little easier, so everyone become a site supporter! :biggrin:
  13. crsnydertx

    crsnydertx Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 31, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Heck, Bill, we could have just traded lenses and avoided all the hassles! :biggrin:
  14. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
  15. robertro

    robertro Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 22, 2010
    I've probably done about 30 transactions through photo forums as well as a couple of hundred through eBay. (My wife forgives me - I think.)

    Despite any concerns, the forum transactions are friendlier, provide more detail, and seem safer than the eBay transactions. eBay sellers always deliver, but you never know what you'll get!

    I do have a checklist though:

    1) try to use the smaller friendlier forums: this forum is the best I've seen, followed by the 4/3 forums. Forums for Canon and Nikon owners tend to be huge, so you have to be a lot more careful; Fred Miranda seems to be the best of those, but I'm still more careful there than here. I guess it's like driving in a bigger city - folks think they are anonymous in a big forum, so they allow themselves more lattitude to be rude, nasty, unfair, etc...

    2) review the seller's posting history on any forum that they are on; if you don't see much, ask them for some sort of reference or their phone number at work

    3) get their home address and landline; Google to see if they exist

    4) take Paypal verified and ship as Paypal instructs

    5) don't sweat the small stuff (a small scratch, a few days of extra shipment, a missing cap is not worth much time and effort)

    I've had a couple of poor quality items off eBay (but to be fair, I've always received a credit/refund), but my forum transactions have been super.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. scottz

    scottz Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 18, 2011
    Littleton, CO
    I visit a knife forum that has actually banned ads demanding that Paypal be used with the gift option because ti leaves the buyer with no protections. I won't use it unless I know the seller.
  17. zpuskas

    zpuskas Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 25, 2011
    Santa Barbara, CA
    Thanks for the post and it's good to hear Paypal did what they say they do. I agree with other posters, no Paypal "gift" as it eliminates any recourse; I'd rather pay the extra percents.
  18. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    thanks for the post. I think it's ok to use paypal gift for purchases from members with extensive history. I am glad to hear that Paypal does the right thing for regular transactions though. Gives you a piece of mind.
  19. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    I did one transaction through Paypal gift, at the buyer's recommendation. I'm not sure why they recommended it as it seems it would have left them with no recourse and was all to my benefit as the seller. I didn't realize it stripped any protection from the transaction. I've never asked for it as a seller - now I DEFINITELY won't.

    Glad Paypal stood behind you when you got burned!

  20. Howi

    Howi Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 23, 2011
    Well said robertro,

    Just remember folks, there are far more GOOD transactions than bad ones, both through forums and ebay.
    Changes to ebay over the years has given more protection to the buyer than seller which tends to favour the 'business' seller more than the casual seller.

    Do your homework, newbies should be treated with caution (no slur on the newbies - just being practical).
    Newbies should help themselves by giving as much info that can be checked as possible, landline telephone, proper email address (not @gmail etc)
    home address etc
    scammers stand out like sore thumbs usually.
    There is nothing wrong with paypal gifting if you have trust in the seller.

    Let me give you an example:-

    on one of the 4/3 forums someone was selling a camera body at a very good price.
    he wasn't getting much response, so I decided to make an offer, which he accepted.
    He needed the money quickly (caution started to creep in at this point) as he had short term financial problems.
    A bank transfer was the quickest way of him getting the payment, but......
    We spoke a few times over the phone and he seemed genuine, but.......
    Then, he said he would send the camera to me (without payment!) and on receipt of item I would bank transfer the money.
    This he did, camera was in perfect condition and payment sent ASAP.
    A little give and take from BOTH sides can do the trick.

    MOST folks are genuine, a little communication can work wonders for mutual trust, there is no need to be paranoid about it.

    Oh! and YES I have been scammed(well, attempted but not succeded) so am always wary.
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