Don’t ignore the red flags of an online scam

Don't ignore the red flags of an online scam

A story recently came out from the Allentown, Pennsylvania area about a man who was scammed out of $2,500. The man was looking to buy a camper and found one on an online listing. The number of red flags that we noticed while reading this story could have been its own semaphore corps. While you may be aware of the signs to look out for when purchasing something online, unfortunately, not everybody is. So every once in a while we like to go over some of the more common scams in order to educate those who may not be aware of them.

As we’ve said, this scam is an example of a typical scam that you’ll find online. When the man responded to the local ad for the camper he was told by the person who placed the ad that he would have to deal with the ad placer’s mother since it was her camper. The ‘mother’ said that she was stationed with the Air Force and was getting rid of the camper because she was retiring. However, the camper was currently located in Minot, North Dakota. That’s roughly 1,700 mikes from the Allentown area. The man was then told that the transaction would be handled through eBay and all he would need to do to have the camper shipped to him was send the asking price in eBay gift cards. After the man paid the initial $2,000 the woman said she needed $1,000 more for shipping and insurance. The man was able to talk her down to $500 but still paid in eBay gift cards.

By now you’ve probably guessed there was no camper and sadly, the victim was out $2,500. For many of us that can be a life saving’s worth of money. The first red flag that should have been noticed is that the ad placer handed off the transaction to someone else. The second red flag was the seller claiming to be in the military. That’s often used as a reason as to why the item is either miles away or why the item can’t be inspected. Many scammers will try to pressure the victim into buying the item sight unseen because the scammer claims they’re shipping out immediately. The next red flag was the transaction supposedly being shifted from the classifieds ad to eBay. While eBay does sell vehicles, they only do so through listings on their site and not as a third-party between people who list their vehicles on other marketplaces. The gift cards should have been the biggest red flag as once the serial numbers are given to the phony seller they can make off with your money largely untraced. Lastly, scammers will always try to get even more money from a victim if they were able to before.

The more people who are forewarned of such a scam will be better able to spot a scam like this in the future. So please, if you know someone who may be vulnerable to this type of scam please share this story and our blog with then for more consumer protection advice.