eHam.net - Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Community

Call Search
     

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Community
Articles
Forums
News
Reviews
Friends Remembered
Strays
Survey Question

Operating
Contesting
DX Cluster Spots
Propagation

Resources
Calendar
Classifieds
Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement
About eHam.net



[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

If It Seems Too Good To Be True...IT IS!

Eddy Rojas (WY4J) on January 6, 2017
View comments about this article!

Just a few tips to avoid getting scammed on the ham swap sites.

My first job out college almost 40 years ago was finding those who wished not to be found because they owed money to the bank I worked for. I was what they called a “skip tracer.” I looked for those who had skipped town on their debts. Well, although I have not earned a living skip tracing anyone in the last 35 years. Lessons learned in the late 1970’s are just as useful today. Actually, with the onset of technology it’s much easier to find someone now that it was in 1978 when you basically had to scam family members, the phone company, other banks and businesses out of information.

With all the price information available on the Internet nobody gives things away anymore.

I see more and more ham complaining that they have been scammed by another ham. Yes, they have been scammed but not by a ham. Not everyone has a built in “honesty gene.” Ham to ham scams do happen but is not as prevalent as getting scammed by someone in Easter Europe or Africa.

For at least a dozen years I have been noticing that 99.9% of the hijacked calls are always those calls where the owner did not list their email address on their QRZ.COM information page. This first began with amateur calls from the UK where some ham would contact you trying to sell you a piece of equipment you had advertised that you wanted to buy. The price was always unbelievable inexpensive but the English and grammar of the message was not. They always requested a Western Union money transfer. Through the years, this scam has morphed from the UK to U.S. calls. But always, those calls with no email address listed on QRZ.COM seemed to be in question. Save yourself the embarrassment and take a couple of minutes and list your email and possibly your call might not be hijacked.

If the call does not have an email address attached to it on QRZ.COM; walk away or better yet, run away from that deal as fast as you can.

I have seen QRZ.COM records hacked where the scammer actually entered a bogus email address but I believe this is very rare. There was also an incident where the boyfriend got access to his ex- girlfriend’s QRZ.COM account, changed the email address and began listing ham equipment at garage sale prices. Obviously the prices listed got the attention of many who reported him and his listings were removed. But you would not believe the dozens and dozens of hams who tried to send him money thinking that they had found a patsy.

They key to not be fooled out of your hard earned money is:

Research, research, research...

Google the call, Google the name, Google the email, Google the telephone number, Google the XYL, Google the grandmother, Google the dog. Together with the call and name use words like scam, rip off, or problem on your Google search. See how long the seller has been a ham and how many QRZ look ups he/she has. Read his/hers QRZ profile. Leopards don't change their stripes. Once a crook and a deadbeat always a crook and a deadbeat.

Google the item image. You would be surprised how many crooks will steal a picture on the internet and try to pass the image as his/her own. Some will steal the image and the entire ad word for word. I even had a legitimate ham try to use my equipment pictures for his ads because he was too lazy to take his own pictures. This man even got highly insulted when I called him out on it.

You can go to the extreme or just stop when you feel comfortable:

• Google search the seller’s full name, ham call, telephone number (if you have one).

• Do a property search by going to their county property appraiser and entering their home address. This is public information so you should be able to find it. If they rent, no such luck.

• Google map their listed or given address to make sure is not an open field in the middle of nowhere.

• Google their call and full name and include the words; problems, complaints, scam in the search.

• Always get a phone number and call them. Although this in not definitive proof of identity at least you will have a number and a way to trace it back to a specific location. You should initiate the call and don’t allow the seller to call you as he/she might be using a pay phone.

• Make sure their phone and internet IP address matches their FCC listed address. You can do this on-line but most of the swap sites already have this feature available.

• Buying from a non-ham selling ham gear should always be done very carefully as we are always proud of our call so I would be a bit hesitant as to why a person is selling ham equipment but is not a ham or does not want to disclose their call.

Lastly, does the sale make sense? Is he/she a novice or tech with no look ups selling a ton of HF equipment at garage sale prices? Close the deal on the phone not via email. Not the safest but PayPal is better than personal checks, cashier’s checks or money orders. Western Union money transfers are a “BIG” no no. Although nothing is 100% safe, I usually walk away if the seller will not accept PayPal which adds another ledger of inconvenience to a scammer or thief.

Finally, used lot's of common sense and go with your gut feeling.

Just my two cents worth….73 de WY4J

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
If It Seems Too Good To Be True...IT IS!  
by K9MHZ on January 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Or, buy new. Great new gear today just isn't that expensive.
 
If It Seems Too Good To Be True...IT IS!  
by AI4WC on January 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
As Reagan told Gorbachev, "Trust; but verify!" Always good advice. Good article; thanks!
 
RE: If It Seems Too Good To Be True...IT IS!  
by N2RRA on January 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Great article!

One would think with some critical thinking and logic you wouldn't have to mention to most how to use google today to secure yourself. I for one thought it would be common sense do so and so I have. Except, there's one thing you've missed is giving way to much credit to PayPal.

To say if the person "doesn't want to use PayPal" then he, or she must be a scammer. Wrong.

Maybe the person doesn't want to use PayPal because of any of the fees they charge even though there are some common sense benefits to use them at times. Maybe it's, because of giving more information about yourself on the internet for hackers to obtain, no computer and in some remote rural locations where there's no internet, or cell service.

Another reason to be cautious about PayPal are a couple of holes in their policy like I just learned and just experienced the hard way. Had I not been persistent in calling their claims service center I wouldn't have come across the right operator to help me. The person I had dealings with had the tell tale signs of an actual ham and turns out he was. When spoke over the phone sounded like a good honest guy.

Well, I was almost scammed by him and PayPal investigations department took his word over mine despite all the email, photo and text proof I provided. A monkey could've identified the difference between an apple and an orange, but not through PayPal's policy's if that monkey worked for them. How could this be?

Turns out, that if you do not perform all transactions and communicating through their web site system then they can not and will not use any of the electronic information between you and the purchaser. Their answer is, "how do we know any of the information you've sent wasn't altered?" which could be a valid claim with today's photo shop and PDF technology. PayPal does not use common sense, logic, or any kind of street smarts to help. They soly rely on computer generated communication specifically through them. Which means you are a slave and bound to their system.

The end result is if you're not careful how you word your advertisement, take video of every step from packing the item, sealing it and taking it to the shipper your in for a ride. That person can then say he didn't receive what he purchased and request a specific amount in a refund to offeset cost leaving you with the short end of the stick like almost happened to me. That's just one of a few reason's why I have lost all desire to use PayPal.

Grant it, probably is better than nothing at all, but I'm pointing out that even a system like PayPal can be used to scam you and just because a person does not desire to use PayPal doesn't mean they should be labeled a possible scammer.

Document and save all communications between you and purchaser and save that information on a flash drive for as long as you can, or need too.

73
 
If It Seems Too Good To Be True...IT IS!  
by KJ6ZOL on January 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I've bought a lot of gear off Craigslist. CL is known for its scam problems regarding small consumer electronics like iPhones, but ham gear seems to be less of an issue. With CL, you can request to meet a seller in person, which generally sends the Nigerians running away. Just last week I responded to a CL ad posted in the Stockton, CA CL, and the responses had some of the marks of a foreign scammer. When I requested to meet him in person, he took off. I personally am thinking of adding my phone number to my QRZ page (already have email there) so anybody who thinks they're getting conned by somebody using my call can phone me directly.
 
RE: If It Seems Too Good To Be True...IT IS!  
by K5FM on January 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Buying new is great if what you want is available, but some are collectors of old gear, or need parts for equipment not manufactured anymore. 99% of what I buy are parts, and if it involves more money than I am willing to risk I have the seller provide a photo of the item with a card with their call written on it in the same image. This at least provides a little insurance that they actually have the item and are not just using a image harvested from the internet, and that is after I have researched the call and name as best I can.
 
If It Seems Too Good To Be True...IT IS!  
by N3AJB on January 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Recently, I advertised for a rare piece of ham gear and got a response with a "too good to be true" price and condition. Red flags immediately set me on a search and the more I found out the more I realized it was a scam.

After several emails back and forth, I agreed to buy the item provided I could pick it up. I never heard from the seller again. He had assumed another ham's call sign so I knew where the seller was suppose to live. I told the seller that I had a relative that lived close to him. My relative would pay cash and pick up the item saving the seller from the effort of packing and shipping. Obviously, no scammer will agree to a pickup.

My advice is to always ask to pick up the item rather than ship it (assuming it is a stateside sale). Even if the item is in California and you are in New York, it is an excellent test to see if the seller is legitimate.

A healthy skepticism is the best defense against scammers.

73.
 
If It Seems Too Good To Be True...IT IS!  
by AF7EC on January 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Thank you Eddy for the article! Some really good things to think about before pursuing a ham ad.

Guess I better go put an e-mail address on my qrz profile, even though I am avoiding that site altogether.

Thanks, 73 and God bless!

Will B
AF7EC
 
RE: If It Seems Too Good To Be True...IT IS!  
by W4KVW on January 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I buy most items with PayPal but can NOT accept payments to me by PayPal because I will not give them my bank information.I have sold many dozens of items & been paid by personal checks (waited until they cleared my bank) or Postal Money Order.I even sold a microphone to a fellow in Australia who insisted that he send me the money by Western Union & it went very smoothly.I also just did one money transfer with Walmart that was quick & smooth.I do check up on anyone I'm sending money to no matter the payment method.Maybe they don't want the hassle of screwing around with someone who retired after 30 years of State Law Enforcement? I do have a lot of contacts all over the United States in Law Enforcement in many county,state & federal agencies so it does help. {:>)

Clayton
W4KVW
 
RE: If It Seems Too Good To Be True...IT IS!  
by K9MHZ on January 7, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Well, I hope you guys all do well with this. I don't know if people are more dishonest today, or if online opportunities for the scammer vermin are making it harder to trust anyone.
 
RE: If It Seems Too Good To Be True...IT IS!  
by AB3TH on January 7, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I likewise don't use Paypal because I won't give them a bank account number in order to pay with a credit card. My credit card has sufficient safeguards. I can contest a transaction and they're responsive. I'm sure I've missed many great deals on eBay because of this. I did buy stuff there before Paypal required the bank info. On the other hand, I've likely spent a lot less money and I already have a massive pile of assorted junk.
 
RE: If It Seems Too Good To Be True...IT IS!  
by HAMMYGUY on January 7, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Very good article and well written.

I would disagree on posting your phone number. I keep a tight rein on it as I use it for work also. After the first email exchange on an item then I'll include it as it tends to make the other person a little more trusting that he isn't getting scammed.
 
RE: If It Seems Too Good To Be True...IT IS!  
by N2RRA on January 7, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
At K9MHZ,

I ask the very same question everyday till I've come to the conclusion there are more dishonest people today for some reason.

smh, sad.
 
If It Seems Too Good To Be True...IT IS!  
by W0AKR on January 8, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
So true, and I also would like to add, you have to watch out for the scammers and theives that pose as serious parties to a transaction, under the pretense they are "good guys", preying on the good nature of many ops out there. The gain the seller's confidence they are legit, hoping the sellers will send the items ahead of receipt of payment. Too many times I have read about folks thinking payment is on the way, forthcoming, and due to their trusting nature (because they are in fact good guys) get ripped off their equipment items and receive in fact, no payment. It happens a lot. It isn't just the scammers pretending to have items for sale, it is also the scammers who are real ops, and steal equipment items and never pay for them preying on good people out there....

Do your homework, don't be in a rush, trust but verify as one stated, AMEN to that!
 
If It Seems Too Good To Be True...IT IS!  
by WW5NX on January 8, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
For the commenters that avoid PP because of the bank account I'd like to add: you may use a credit card for paypal but you have to remember to select it for payment. PayPal defaults to the bank account but gives you the option before payment to the seller. Double protection as far as I'm concerned.
 
RE: If It Seems Too Good To Be True...IT IS!  
by N2RRA on January 8, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
WW5NX,

Not so.

Me being the seller could have been screwed, because of a couple loop holes PayPal doesn't acknowledge. Luckily, instead of what could have turned out to be an extortion, or part swap scam by a ham things turned out the best it could for me. Maybe not so for the next guy.

In other words, if a ham wants to claim their not happy with an item you sold them and makes files that claim against you the item can be sent back to you not the same way you sold it to them. No matter how much proof you may have on the other guy, because photo's and other digital communicating between both parties wasn't done through PayPal it will not be applicable in the PayPal investigation ruling.

If you sell an item "YOU MUST" do all communicating using their system. If someone contacts you about the item make sure all corresponding information goes through PayPal request information page between buyer and seller just to make the process is easier in case of a scam.
 
RE: If It Seems Too Good To Be True...IT IS!  
by N2RRA on January 8, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I forgot mention even if you use a CC company they will tell you to contact PayPal first and once you've gone through all the necessary steps then the bank, or cc company will do what they can. Problem is that's a whole lot of time and energy wasted if your talking $500. to $5000. is on the line. Sucks!

By then your item sold could already be on the way back if your lucky not the same way you shipped it, or worse.

 
RE: If It Seems Too Good To Be True...IT IS!  
by KC8MWG on January 8, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Depends on your definition of "expensive". Not everyone can afford to shell out $1,000 or more for a brand-new HF transceiver. For me, that's something like 1-1/2 months take-home pay or more. That's why my SDR is homebrew!
 
RE: If It Seems Too Good To Be True...IT IS!  
by KB6QXM on January 8, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
The amount of scammers have gone up because of the anonymity of the internet. The identity theft of honest hams and the dregs being brought in by "incentive licensing". When it was much more difficult to obtain an amateur radio license, the quality of people in the ranks did not lend itself to criminally minded individuals. We all know who is responsible for the lowering of the license standards.

Lastly, society in general is lowering it's standards.

Brave new world we live in!!!

73
 
RE: If It Seems Too Good To Be True...IT IS!  
by N9LCD on January 9, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I disagree with N2RRA. My PayPal account is linked to a credit card. I had two "disputed" purchases in 2016. In each case I went directly to my credit card and disputed the transaction. In each case it was: "Here's provisional credit. Send us proof you returned the gear and we'll make it final.

FEDERAL STATUTES AND REGULATIONS SET THE DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROCEDURES FOR CREDIT CARD PURCHASES AND PROVIDE JUDICIAL PENALTIES OF UP TO $1,000 AND LEGAL FEES FOR INFRACTIONS. IN ADDITION FEDERAL REGULATORY AGENCIES CAN IMPOSE ADMINISTRATIVE SANCTIONS.

PAYPAL SETS AND ADMINISTERS ITS OWN DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROCEDURES WITHOUT OUTSIDE SUPERVISION.-- UNLESS YOU SUE THEM IN A CALIFORNIA COURT!!!
 
RE: If It Seems Too Good To Be True...IT IS!  
by WB2PJH on January 9, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Good information on PayPal. I have sold items and have been paid via PayPal and the fees are not insignificant. I prefer a postal money order or bank check. One thing that I can add is that it is not allowed to charge more for the item if the buyer is using PayPal. Sentences like "add 5% additional if using PayPal" are not allowed per their policy.

Trust and verify and don't rush. I was scammed out of over $3600 over a linear amplifier and when I tried to take the seller to small claims court I found that the system makes it nearly impossible to collect. All they need to do is refuse that certified mail envelope and your case is dismissed.

To add insult to injury, another ham in California contacted me after I posted a scam notice on eHam and he had bought the same amplifier and it was never delivered.

Caveat Emptor.

Dave WB2PJH
 
RE: If It Seems Too Good To Be True...IT IS!  
by N9LCD on January 10, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Dave:

After 20 years in bank examination and banking in Chicago, I learned an interesting trick from "repo" men.

When you send a notice by certified mail to one of your deadbeats, always assume that (s)he WILL NOT sign for it.
So you send a regular, first class letter (with a different return address) with a USPS "proof of mailing" to the deadbeat.

Illinois courts have held that a letter sent with "proof of mailing" to the same address as on the certified mail constitutes "proof of service".

Jerry
N9LCD

 
RE: If It Seems Too Good To Be True...IT IS!  
by W0XS on January 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I had to sell 2/3rds of my ham gear to pay bills (I'm on Social Security) and PayPal and eBay charged me a huge amount of money so I don't use PayPal any more.
 
If It Seems Too Good To Be True...IT IS!  
by AB2DP on January 14, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I would like to add a short suggestion to this good article. An item paid with PayPal makes the transaction safe. Always you can request the money back. If he refuses then something is fishy.
 
If It Seems Too Good To Be True...IT IS!  
by AB2DP on January 14, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I would like to add a short suggestion to this good article. An item paid with PayPal makes the transaction safe. Always you can request the money back. If he refuses then something is fishy.
 
If It Seems Too Good To Be True...IT IS!  
by AB2DP on January 14, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I would like to add a short suggestion to this good article. An item paid with PayPal makes the transaction safe. Always you can request the money back. If he refuses then something is fishy.
 
If It Seems Too Good To Be True...IT IS!  
by AB2DP on January 14, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
PayPal is a safe modality too. Always we can get the money back. If the vendor is refusing, then something is fishy.
 
RE: If It Seems Too Good To Be True...IT IS!  
by N1OIE on January 15, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
FWIW, I refuse to use PayPal because I had an issue with them once, and getting through to the customer service people who could resolve the issue was worse than trying yo get an operation scehudled at the VA. PayPal is great if everything works well, but like so many internet or big box businesses, the support just sucks if you need it.

Also, just this week a scrøt tried to scam me ... The guy promised to end me the check, and in the meantime, if I'd take a picture of the rig with HIS call sign on it, "that'd be splendid." Sounded fishy, and when I checked, his name did not match the call sign in QRZ. THe name was for a guy in Canada, and the call sign in FLA. I contacted the FLA guy and he said his email had been hacked last week. I suspect the tactic was to the photo and then repost the add as his own, or some other plan to get into my account.

Note, too, that the proper use of English is a good test for these people. The English they teach in East Asia and Africa is overly obsequious by our standards -- few Americans say "kindly please," "I've been down with fever," "I carried my child to hospital," etc. The samers will try to make you feel comfortable with over stylization.
 
If It Seems Too Good To Be True...IT IS!  
by N1XRR on January 17, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Great advice! One small note...
"Make sure their phone and internet IP address matches their FCC listed address."

Yes, verify their phone number is correct, but IP addresses are not an unique identifier. There is no way to tie an IP address to a specific person, as ISP assign them dynamically. It could be 1.2.3.4 today and 250.190.223.12 the next.
 
RE: If It Seems Too Good To Be True...IT IS!  
by N9LCD on January 19, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
How do you make sure that the phone and internet IP address match their FCC address.

PHONE ADDRESS: If you google our "708" land line, you'll get the name address of the person who had that number 3 AND A HALF YEARS AGO before it was assigned to us. At least once a month we still get calls from from those trying to contact this "no goodnik".

BE CAREFUL OF STALE, INCORRECT DATA WHEN USING INTERNET PHONE SEARCHES, EVEN THOSE YOU PAY FOR!

As for cell phone numbers, you can google my cell phone number; I used it in ads and postings. The data for the XYL's cell phone is, guess what, INCORRECT.

REFER TO MY PREVIOUS COMMENT.

"ROTS OF RUCK" IF YOUR COUNTER-PARTY IS USING PREPAID CELL PHONE SERVICE; YOU WON'T FIND ANYTHING!

PORTABILITY OF CELL PHONE NUMBERS: THE AREA CODE OF A CELL PHONE USUALLY REPRESENTS WHERE THE USER SIGNED-UP FOR THE SERVICE, NOT WHERE HE'S LOCATED.

INTERNET IP ADDRESS: If your counter-party is using a "virtual private network" to encrypt his data, you won't see his "correct" IP Address. My VNP offers a choice of at least two dozen locations to choose from.

CALL your counter-party. Does (s)he sound like (s)he knows what they're talking about? Are you comfortable talking to them? It's up to you to ask the "RIGHT QUESTIONS".

REMEMBER: NO ONE TEST OR CHECK, IN AND OF ITSELF, IS A RELIABLE INDICATOR OF FRAUD.
 
RE: If It Seems Too Good To Be True...IT IS!  
by W6MTF on February 9, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
PayPal just announced they no longer provide Seller Protection if "Payments were sent using PayPal’s friends and family functionality."
That topic has been covered before, no one but your next of kin should ever be on the receiving end of a paypal Friends and Family transaction. Any seller that asks you to use that method should be suspect!
I've had to open one case to Pay Pal over an Ebay transaction and they were very helpful in resolving the issue by a telephone call and took my side in the matter from the start so I have to say I give them a A+ for that but I sure dislike having to open a case in the first place.
Due Diligence is important these days, more than ever with the ability for bad folks to hide their identity using digital means.
 
Email Subscription
You are not subscribed to discussions on this article.

Subscribe!
My Subscriptions
Subscriptions Help

Related News & Articles
Taking Another Look at Packet Radio


Other Editorial Articles
The DX Mess