Online Auction Frauds

A timely reminder from Suffolk Police.

I’ll just add:

  • Never post an item overseas until you are certain the money is in your Paypal account
  • Never post an item overseas if the buyer pays by cheque – these are almost always fake
  • Never sell to a buyer who asks you to remove the item from sale for them.
  • Be wary of any buyer who emails you a story, telling you they definitely want the  item, etc.  Online auction sites are set up so that people can bid and pay online.  Be wary of anyone who claims they can’t/won’t/don’t want to.

Police are reminding online sellers to be wary of internet scammers after a Suffolk resident did not receive payment for an iPhone he was selling online.

The man, who lives in the Babergh area, sold the phone through an online auction site earlier in the month. He received a series of e-mails from the fraudulent buyer insisting they would pay the money when the phone was received.

Despite sending the phone to the foreign address provided, payment was not received and the ‘buyer’ has so far proven difficult to trace.

PC Lesley Brown, who works closely with fraud victims, said: “There are many ways to pay for things online that may be legitimate, but are often used by criminals to trick people out of money or avoid payment of an item because they are so difficult to trace.

“We urge people to double check the person or company you are dealing with over the internet or phone. Do some research on the address they’re provided, or look at their user feedback online.

“When making or asking for a payment, be sure you’re using a system that can easily be traced and monitored. Secure payment services such as PayPal are usually best. Check the guidelines on the auction or shopping website you are using to see what they recommend.”

Some further tips for avoiding scams on auction sites:

  • Always check your secure payment account, such as PayPal, before posting items. Scammers can win items and then send you a fake payment confirmation by e-mail that appears legitimate at first.
  • Such fake emails do not often say what the item is on the header of the email, as a legitimate message from most auction sites will. Don’t click on links in a fake e-mail as you’ll be taken to a false site.
  • Don’t allow users to make you an offer before an auction has ended. Taking an item off prematurely means the transaction is not completed through the website, making the ‘buyer’ harder to trace. Use a ‘Buy it Now’ function if necessary.