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A Warning -- Scammers are Sophisticated

from VK3BL on February 4, 2017
View comments about this article!

Hey Everyone,

Just wanted to share a story of caution regarding how sophisticated scammers are these days, and they are actively praying on the Ham community who may not be so good with computers and also generally more trusting.

Recently, I got an email from K7CBA (Impersonated) in response to my wanted ad for a THP HF-1K Amplifier on the VK classifieds webpage.

Their English was fantastic with a few slip-ups. The giveaways were:

1) Overly generous with postage.
2) Wouldn’t accept PayPal.
3) Photos not found in Google images search, but were lifted from qrz.com for sale section. I found them by Googling the amplifier's model and the for sale thread came up.
4) Contacted me via my qrz.com profile email.
5) K7CBA has no email listed on QRZ.COM profile so couldn't verify ownership (be aware sometimes scammers steal profiles too).

When questioned about previous call signs, the scammer was even smart enough to find K7CBA's old calls in the FCC

Database!!!

Be Very Aware. Always Insist On PayPal, In Person Pickup Or Another Escrow Service You Trust.

Here are the seller’s emails. Note how good the English is:

Email 1:

"Hi Jarrad,

I have an excellent condition THP model HL-1K/A desk top amp for sale. It runs a pair of 4CX-250B tubes and provides 500 watts out on 160-15 meters including 30 and 17 meters. I also have a new pair of tubes to go with it. I would like $650 plus shipping and insurance via FedEx or UPS for the amp and the spare tubes.

Let me know if interested

K7CBA, Joseph"

Email 2:

"Jarrad, That's not a problem, I have both fedex and ups account that I can ship with and also my daughter works in a shipping company so that won't be a problem for me. This is not my first time of shipping items like this outside the states, I've sold more than 3 radios and amp to different ham member in Australia without any complain. Would you be interested in the spare tubes that comes with the amp? Also let me know your payment options? Pls note: the amp and spare tubes will be properly packed with foams inserts in 2 boxes, I will pay the extra $$ for FedEx or UPS packing. Also my daughter will be shipping the amp to you on my behalf as I am currently on a wheel chair and can't do much, I am just recovering from a recent hip surgery and only dependent upon the convenience of others. Await your response 73, Joseph"

Member Comments:
Add A Comment
 
A Warning -- Scammers are Sophisticated Reply
by K9MHZ on February 4, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Great advice.
 
RE: A Warning -- Scammers are Sophisticated Reply
by K9MHZ on February 4, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"on my behalf as I am currently on a wheel chair and can't do much, I am just recovering from a recent hip surgery and only dependent upon the convenience of others."

That's a dead giveaway as well....they always seem to be sick or injured and "unable to XYZ...."

Good work, Jarrard!

 
A Warning -- Scammers are Sophisticated Reply
by W6QW on February 4, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I would also like to suggest that a buyer and seller establish a video conference before sealing the deal. With all the video conferencing options today (Skype, CamSurf, etc), it is easy to visually inspect equipment and each party can check the IP address of the chat session. Just another tool to help mitigate scams.
 
A Warning -- Scammers are Sophisticated Reply
by KW1K on February 4, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I always felt the best way to send money is via USPS to the CBA [Call Book Address] as listed by the FCC. I've also called a few sellers and never had an issue wrt verifying the address; they always were willing to confirm.

The bottom line is you cannot be too careful nowadays.

73 es gud dx.
 
A Warning -- Scammers are Sophisticated Reply
by N0UY on February 4, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Well I answered an add for an IC-7700 that was for sale. The scammer was using a USA 6 call that did not have an email listed. The fellow (I assume) answered all my questions in good English and supplied additional pics like I asked. They too were found on a google search from a qrz add several years earlier. I told him I didn't trust him and he got pretty irritated with me and call me names for not trusting him. Finally I told him if he shipped the rig to me prepaid I would pay the full amount after it was received in the stated condition of the sale. Never heard from him again. He had me hooked for at least the first 3 or 4 emails over as many days. It was a lot of money also so thank goodness a light came on in my head.
 
RE: A Warning -- Scammers are Sophisticated Reply
by AC7CW on February 4, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"I always felt the best way to send money is via USPS to the CBA [Call Book Address] as listed by the FCC"

That is brilliant actually
 
RE: A Warning -- Scammers are Sophisticated Reply
by KI7AAR on February 5, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Another dead give away is seller that uses PayPal but, refuses payment through the "pay for goods and services" option. They insist on "friends and family" which offers no protection to the buyer. Offer to pay extra to cover the fee, if they still refuse you are dealing with a crook or an idiot.

I understand that some people don't want to use PayPal at all that's Ok. It just requires extra due diligence so these sellers should be prepared to take extra steps to prove their honesty.
 
RE: A Warning -- Scammers are Sophisticated Reply
by W4XKE on February 5, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Paypal is no security. My neighbor sold an amp online and accepted a Paypal payment. The buyer replied back that he'd received the amp and that it worked fine and he was happy.

Three weeks later the payment was canceled and retrieved, saying the item was not acceptable - non-working. After much arguing with Paypal there was no reconciliation.

Bottom line - don't ask me to use Paypal. It ain't gonna happen!
 
RE: A Warning -- Scammers are Sophisticated Reply
by K7LZR on February 5, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Well, I must be an exception because I've never had any real trouble buying nor selling so I guess I'm just lucky so far but I also try to be cautious. I have had attempts made by scammers but so far have managed to see the red flags before any damage was done thank goodness. One was for a motorcycle which I was selling online, and the scammer was apparent right away - was supposedly on duty aboard an oil tanker but wanted to buy the bike for his brother etc. but needed deposit money for shipper to pick the bike up.....sounded pretty convincing and I played along just for fun for awhile and then finally told the scammer to bug off and sold to a legit person.....

While I certainly see the need for due caution, I also see some who are going overboard with it and making somewhat unreasonable demands from the seller such as real time video showing the item working when its only a $25 sale, or detailed pics of every little scratch, or lifetime guarantee on a used radio, or other such.

Honestly I don't think that there really is a good answer to this problem and there never will be. There have been thieves since the dawn of mankind and so the best you can do is just what all here are saying and be careful.....

 
RE: A Warning -- Scammers are Sophisticated Reply
by AC7CW on February 5, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Most scammers are psychopathic parasites. Don't trust people and give them the upper hand in anything util you know they are not psychopathic. The psychos will try to use your sympathy to get the upper hand quite often.

It's fun to turn it around and burn them and it's usually not at all difficult because, in spite of the fact they spend their lives lying, they are easy to con!!
 
RE: A Warning -- Scammers are Sophisticated Reply
by N3AJB on February 5, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I've had nearly the same experience with a wanted ad. The phony seller offer the unit in almost new condition and at a very (too) reasonable price. After several emails back and forth it was clear to me he was a scammer.

As a final check to see if he was on the level, I told him I had a relative in the area who would stop by and pay cash. I never heard from the seller again.

The ultimate test to see if the seller is a scammer is to make arrangements to pick up the item and pay cash. No scammer will agree to that offer.
 
A Warning -- Scammers are Sophisticated Reply
by KC2WI on February 5, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Looks like I have just encountered a scammer. In this case it was a response to a Craigslist ad I placed for two old snowmobiles "for parts or repair.". The details are unimportant. Could just as well been for ham gear.

One response was from "John" using a gmail address, asking about more details on condition. I replied. He replied with an offer. All good English, sounded legit. I agreed.

Then a reply would I accept payment by cashiers check? I said yes but nothing moves until the check clears the bank 3-5 days. I figured the buyer would come, look, and give me a check if satisfied, then come back to pick up. I suppose I should have thought right there that if he could get a check, he could get cash.

Anyway, he responded that was fine, asked for mailing address and something about sending by courier. That should have tipped me off but being hte trusting type I gave him my PO Box.

Next reply was the kicker. Looked strange, definitely not good English, and I had to read it a couple of times and think about it to figure out what he was getting at:

"I got your details .. I will email you once i confirm the payment issued and sent out to your mailing address via courier soon.. Reserve it for me alone,tell other buyers it is sold ..ok

I need inform you of other sled models i also bought within the states plus the elans which am i getting from you... The shipping funds of this items will be included on the payment sent ... i will be compensating you with extra fifty for your trust and understanding so please reserve it for me alone, tell others is been sold and take off the post on the site ..

I hope i can trust and confide in you .. What's your home phone no ?

I would keep you posted once the payment is sent ok"

So it appears the scam is he's going to send a big check supposedly paying for my items plus some kind of shipping plus $50 "for my trust and understanding" then he is going to ask me to send money to someone for shipping of "other sled models i also bought within the states plus the elans which am i getting from you" ...

My response: "Please put your payment on hold. I have a trusted friend who has advised I should not sell for $500. I will advise my decision."

Will be interesting to see what the reply might be. My guess is he will up his offer maybe even over what my asking price was, because he thinks he has a a live one...
 
RE: -- Scammers are Sophisticated Reply
by AA3EJ on February 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I have ALWAYS used the USPS and NOT PayPal as they have used my account several times without my authorization over a 5 year period. I never had any problem selling gear via USPS and using the QRZ address, "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is..."73's Dave,aa3ej
 
RE: A Warning -- Scammers are Sophisticated Reply
by KW1K on February 6, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I would caution you as 3-5 days is not sufficient time. If the check is dishonored at the originating institution, you are responsible. This was a popular ploy making rounds through law offices a few years back [I was getting about one a month], cash my check keep $x for your trouble and then transfer remainder to this other account. You would be surprised at the number of firms who fell for the scheme. The stories vary widely as to the reasons but it amounts to the same fraud. The scammer sill always have reasons the transfer must occur quickly.

Either call the origination institution and look them up as the phone number on the check leads back to the scammer. Or wait at LEAST two weeks and then check with your bank to be sure the funds have completely cleared.

Personally, I have never taken issue with either a buyer or seller wanting to be cautious.

73 es gud DX
 
RE: A Warning -- Scammers are Sophisticated Reply
by KB6QXM on February 7, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I look at it this way. If you want to sell or buy something from another ham, buy it locally or purchase it retail.

The scams and the scammers have gotten so bad, that the hassle is not worth the time, money or aggravation.

I do not know what the root cause for this increase. It could be the scammers are finding that the aging population of the no-so tech saavy hams are easy prey, or that because of the lowering of the license standards, you are allowing some undesirables to enter the hobby or lastly that society in general is falling apart.

No blaming the millennial generation on this one.
 
RE: A Warning -- Scammers are Sophisticated Reply
by SWMAN on February 7, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I agree with QXM that society in general is falling apart.
 
RE: A Warning -- Scammers are Sophisticated Reply
by K1PJR on February 7, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Society is not falling apart. The problem is the media. There is just too much information and much of it is not objective. Society is changing but change is a good thing.

As far as scammers, they were always here. "A sucker is born every minute" per PT Barnum. I keep it simple when dealing with others. It's on my terms. If not then I walk away no matter how good the deal is. Walking away is the hard part but you have to be willing to do so to be successful and not get scammed.
 
A Warning -- Scammers are Sophisticated Reply
by K3JLS on February 7, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
If you really want to annoy them, string them along with a couple of e-mail exchanges and then send them Monopoly money.

Joe - K3JLS
 
RE: A Warning -- Scammers are Sophisticated Reply
by VE6ND on February 8, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Skype!! Now that's an excellent idea, everyone has a camera even on their phone.

Glenn, VE6ND
 
A Warning -- Scammers are Sophisticated Reply
by K3XT on February 8, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
W4XKE comments are right on but did not go far enough regarding Paypal. If the buyer through Paypal claims the item is not as advertised you will lose your money as the seller. Also, if you ship your equipment to an address that is not registered in Paypal then you have no case for payment as per Paypal terms & agreements. Even if you have emails from the buyer requesting shipping to another address in writing, you still lose. Google it, you will see many people scammed by selling equipment through Paypal. The buyer has all the negotiation power using Paypal. Don't do it.
 
RE: A Warning -- Scammers are Sophisticated Reply
by N5RMS on February 8, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Yes they are! I was in Ireland a while back and wanted to check my email via wifi. A box popped up, said needed to re-enter my password. Ok, I'm wise to that! I reloaded email address, box popped up again with the correct HTTS url. Hmmmmm. Well, there's really nothing in my mail worth stealing, so I re-entered the password. They stole my password! I found a more secure wifi, quickly changed my password.

73
N5RMS
 
RE: A Warning -- Scammers are Sophisticated Reply
by KB6QXM on February 9, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
To me. The moral of the story is that the hassle and potential lost money is not worth the time, effort or frustration.

If you want to sell the item, then sell it locally either through a local club or swap meet, sell to only people you know.

I you want to buy an item, either buy it locally or buy it retail.

The scammers have ruined it for us all.

I would like to see what the statistics are. In reference to items sold on eBay or using Palpal, what is the percentage of the overall sales were met with scams?
1%, 5% or more.
 
RE: A Warning -- Scammers are Sophisticated Reply
by AD1LL on February 10, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
The scammers haven't ruined it, they are helping keep the profession alive. I have bought items used online. But I prefer to do it in person. On FB ere was a scammer selling a rig for the brother of a coworker. I called him out on it to hopefully add pause to any others considering the purchase.
 
RE: A Warning -- Scammers are Sophisticated Reply
by KD0ZGW on February 12, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
There is a solution to scammers. It is necessarily a solution which crosses international borders. It goes something like this:

1. Some aggressive credit card company(s) forms an antifraud division. They hire a couple of dozen super nerds that can uncover the physical location of the perpetrators.

2. The anti-fraud unit includes a 2nd group of "feedback specialists" who visit the perpetrators and provide active negative feedback. These feedback specialists are drawn from the retired special forces community.

In short order the word would go out on the various bulletin boards the scammer community uses that the rules have changed.

without some action like the preceding the scammers will always be with us as there is presently very little in the way of negative repurcussions for their anti-social behavior.
 
A Warning -- Scammers are Sophisticated Reply
by DJ0RD on February 17, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Almost happened to me. I wanted to buy a piece of equipment out of the States. First the PayPal address didn't agree with the Callsign Address, then he wanted to send the payment to a friend with whom he "shared" the account. And of course not for goods and services. I then ended the transaction. He had contacted me from my QRZ.com WTB ad.

Vy 73 de Bob DJ0RD/WU5T
 
A Warning -- Scammers are Sophisticated Reply
by WD4ED on February 21, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I also was taken by a scammer on QRZ. Much like the posted story. Used a stolen QRZ password, almost identical email address, reselling an item the QRZ callsign had sold a month earlier and was willing to pay shipping! A ham pay shipping! That's too much... I should have known..

Anyway, I used PayPal and after a silly amount of time, got my money back. The clues weren't obvious, but they were there but subtle.

For me, I'm done buying and selling on the internet. If I change my mind I'm gonna be tough to work with and quick to back out. I'll either sell it locally or just keep it forever.

Thanks,

Ed
 
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