Avoid the Scammers - PetGroomer.com Classified Ad Sellers Advisory

Individuals in other countries, and sometimes in U.S., will respond to your ads placed on various classified web sites on the Internet about the sale of autos, businesses or other large ticket items most commonly. Typically they agree to purchase the vehicle or high tag item and then forward a counterfeit cashiers check or money order to the seller in amounts exceeding the agreed upon purchase price. The seller contacts the buyer concerning the overpayment. The seller is asked to refund the overpayment, and quite often there is a 3rd party who will pickup the item sold. If the seller sends a refund quickly they come to discover the counterfeit item is worthless, and that could take 2 weeks even. The seller has released the goods, and also out the amount of the refund. Sometimes they won't pickup the item and are happy with the refund. In every instance the bank will pass the loss back to the individual who deposited the counterfeit check. The FBI are well aware of this fraud scheme but don't expect them to do much when the culprits are located outside the U.S. If the sale smells anything like the above, walk away and disregard such offers.

This fraud scheme should not deter users from using the Internet as a place to sell and buy goods. Users should feel completely safe in placing classified ads, but  exercise caution. Remember, if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is!

Most of the current fraud offers come from "free" type email accounts like, Yahoo, Hotmail, Fastermail etc. We suggest sellers provide only a telephone number since 95% (not 100%) of all fraud offers to date that we know of only come in by email. Exercise caution even with callers. Yahoo has been great about notifying offenders of the misuse of their email accounts. Unfortunately, the scammers just sign-up for another free account, and the free accounts rarely take a personal ID number, so this makes it all the more difficult for the authorities do.

Please be cautious, especially if you use an email in your ad. Just about everyone gets scammers when they put their email inside their ad. Personally, we would never sell anything without having verifiable contact info from the buyer, and that is an address and phone, not just an email. We would also limit our buyers to those within the country in which we reside.

Scammers are always thinking up new variations of their crimes. If you are selling a business or large tag item you really should have a contract of sale drawn up by an attorney. If you are selling any kind of valuable product verify your buyer, consider a contract of sale and until you have funds cleared in your account remember you could have a bad form of payment. Bank wires into your account are on of the safest forms of receiving clean funds, so consider that form of payment. Again, verify your buyer before you provide them with your bank information. Get their phone number and address, call them at the number and see if they answer etc. Send them a courier letter to see if delivery is accepted and signed by who?

Several sellers have actually faked it and taken possession of fake cashiers checks or money orders to the FBI. Sadly they were told there was little that could be done when the culprits were located outside the U.S. and without a telephone number that could be traced. However, you can do something more to protect yourself. Once again, get their phone number. Call that number and verify it. Keep that number as the authorities can trace owners of telephone numbers. Note the caller ID status if you can. We would prefer sellers not to take chances as some of these buyers have. In fact, some got severe threats, please don't. Just don't start any negotiations with suspicious buyers in the first place and you are fine.

Everyone should ask their bank for assistance. Having funds wired into your bank account is the cleanest method. The funds are good once your bank says a wire was received in your account. However, never accept overpayments. Reminder, cashiers checks can take 2 weeks to clear. Don't accept payments not drawn on a U.S. bank in U.S. funds unless you are located outside the U.S. and your buyer is local to you. If you feel uneasy, get professional help with transactions. We feel this is especially important for the sale of vehicles and businesses.

Thank you.