Cash money transfers
How to look out for scammers on eBay and other second hand retailers.
Update : Nov 2015
Great, you found a buyer for your mp3 player? Be aware of certain risks, this is what can happen to you: the buyer has paid via PayPal, everything seems in order, you send a package to the given address (a friend of his)... 48h later, the buyer opens up a dispute on PayPal and asks for his money back, saying that he never received the parcel.
You have a proof of deposit, but to no avail: a clause of PayPal provides that the goods must be delivered in a so-called “Lettre Suivie” (with the possibility to follow the delivery) or in a “Colissimo” (express parcel service run by the French post office) to the postal address given in the account of the buyer, not the address of “a friend”, evidently in league with the scammer.
- Variation: There exist dubious buyers or sellers on eBay, Le Bon Coin (typical French sites for selling and buying second-hand)… On these sites, there are many opportunities for scammers!
- The mechanism: Scammers are looking for faults in a secure system (for example PayPal)…and thereby are snagging users that trust in the safety of the system.
- Counter measures: Payment systems such as PayPal remain a fairly safe method of payment, on the condition that high vigilance is used: Connect directly to PayPal. In order to have the guarantee to be reimbursed in case of problems, it is imperative that the delivery is made by La Poste, Fedex, UPS… Be aware that a parcel that you send yourself is not covered. In case you are selling goods, make sure that the payment is displayed as “Terminé” (has ensued) in your PayPal account before sending the object, and use a service (La Poste, UPS…) that incorporates a follow-up system online and a proof of delivery.
- More advice: On different websites for selling or buying second hand, ignore emails, even those that seem to be “officially” sent by eBay, Western Union, etc., asking you to confirm your personal information (these organizations never contact their clients in order to ask for passwords, details of your Carte Bleue - a debit card - or your online identification).
- Good to know: Western Union advises against using its services to transfer money to an unknown person and declines any responsibility in case something goes wrong. On Le Bon Coin, carefully check the information of your counterpart (name, address, telephone number…) and, if you live in the same city, deliver the goods yourself, even if it means arranging a meeting in front of a police station in order to discourage potential scammers! In case of payment by check, be careful of fake checks and especially the situation where a check is made to cover an amount higher than the one agreed upon (the scammer relies on a quick payment by the consumer as the bank may take several days to notice the fraud).