Something I have done on more than one occasion is to ask to see a picture of an item with other item(s) in the picture. Hence are some pictures of Agilent test cables used to connect to my 20 GHz vector network analyzer. I asked the seller to put a battery in each photograph. I think it is clear the seller did have the cables in this case, as it would be very
hard to fake 2 of these photos - perhaps the top one not so hard, but even that would need some skill to do wellhttp://www.vnacalibration.co.uk/help-reduce-scams/Agilent%2085131F%20sn38116-04117%20001.jpghttp://www.vnacalibration.co.uk/help-reduce-scams/Agilent%2085131F%20sn52620%20002.jpghttp://www.vnacalibration.co.uk/help-reduce-scams/Agilent%2085131F%20sn52620%20003.jpg
If for some reason you can't see the photos - they have spaces in their names, which is never a great idea. They are in this directoryhttp://www.vnacalibration.co.uk/help-reduce-scams/
Of course this does not guarantee
the seller has any intension of sending you something, but at least you know he/she does have it in their possession.
In that transaction, the cables were $1350 and I imported them from the USA to the UK. I paid with Paypal, which gives me some protection. Had the seller want.ed Western Union, I would not have bothered, even though I could see he had the cables.
I thought the deal was actually too good to be true, as one seller had already declined an offer of $2500 for these cables, but I got them for $1350 in the end. But I had the sence to check the items existed and paid by a method which gives me some level of security.
On another occasion, I picked up a rig about 100 miles from me. Before wasting my time travelling there to pick it up, I insured the seller actually had it, by asking for some pitcures wtih a coffee cup and loo roll in them.
You can ask for anything in the picture, or several things.
I'm absolutely amazed people get ripped off sending money via Western Union, Moneygram, cash or wiring to the bank accounts of complete strangers.
I think this should be made a sticky, but perhaps others disagree.
Documents like a driving license are quite easy to fake to look OK in an email. Documents are 2D objects. Faking pictures of 3D objects like above is a lot harder.
I have suggested this idea before on here, but given people are still getting ripped off in a way that is preventable, perhaps it should be made a sticky so it stays at the top of the forum.