The African Scam
The Internet has changed the way we buy and sell our
vehicles and military kit.
It reads like this…..(this a genuine example)
Ok, so there are more than a few typos but it seems like someone
is prepared to buy it unseen and arrange the shipping. It’s
all a bit too good to be true……… despite the fact
that your advert header has been cut ‘n pasted in – between
Normally within a day comes back a gleeful E Mail, agreeing to your price and saying a cheque will be sent for the full cost plus the shipping – often for a considerable extra amount. All you need to do is to provide your address and the cheque will arrive by DHL or courier probably next day.
STOP! Don’t even think about accepting!
The cheque or bankers draft arrives, often drawn on some obscure
merchant or private bank. You can bank it and then after 4 or 5 days
you will get a phone call from the “buyer” asking you
if you have banked his cheque and to send a cheque for the shipping
fee to his “shipper”. So, you ring the bank who confidently
tell you the cheque “hasn’t bounced” – you
decide to be cautious and leave it a few more days, by which time
the cheque is showing as cleared funds on your account. By this time
you think the buyer is genuine and you send off your cheque to the
“shipper” and await the collection of the vehicle, happy
that you got the full asking price for it.
The cheque you thought (as did the bank teller! ) turns out to be
a forgery on a stolen blank cheque ( often these are surreptitiously
removed from peoples cheque books. The crooks know that it actually
takes much longer for a fake cheque to be returned through the system
than one on a valid account takes to “bounce”.
So you don’t get caught out…… here are some tips to spot the scammers.
· The potential buyer appears to be sending you an E Mail with the type of vehicle pasted in (as in our genuine example above).
· The potential buyer includes phrases like “god bless you” and “my friend” and other gushing phrases along the lines of “I am really okay and comfortable with the detail you illustrated on the web site”
· The potential buyer is using one of the more anonymous E Mail addresses like Hotmail and Redifmail.
· The potential buyer appears to know nothing about the vehicle he is trying to buy.
· It all seems a bit too good to be true - IT IS!
Please don’t let this put you off advertising on the Internet
– MILWEB now carries about 20,000 adverts a year - everyone
placing an advert gets an automatic warning message and we are only
aware of one person who actually got caught by the scammers. Unfortunately
the police aren’t really geared up to pursuing these scammers,
so its of little point in reporting them.
In amongst our adverts, MILWEB has a couple of “sleepers” so we can keep an eye on the scammers and also we can see if anyone is contacting our advertisers for any other purposes. Ok, we have had some fun wasting the scammers time asking for the cheque to be made out to Hugh Janus and sent to 1, Scotland Yard, London W1A 1AA but its actually got boring now.
My advice is just to delete the mails, don’t even bother replying.
Just keep an eye out for genuine enquiries – they are out there and they are the ones to spend your time on. If it’s an overseas buyer and his English isn’t good, try to find out what he knows about the vehicle he is buying – remember most buyers are genuine! Unless you know the person do not accept a cheque for more than the asking price, if he can’t pay the shipper directly do not proceed.
As the busiest site military on the Internet by far, www.milweb.net also attracts a number of adverts we just don’t place. We always err on the side of caution and in the last 8 years there have been a couple of instances where dubious gentlemen from the former Soviet Union have wanted to sell German armour “just found after 60 years”– when we have asked for both photographic proof and our modest trade advertiser fee, they have disappeared into cyber space. Our worldwide contacts give us a pretty good heads up when anything a bit suspicious turns up.
But of course the Panther Tank that was advertised for restoration
on MILWEB with pictures for around £300,000 was genuine, it
sold and is now under restoration.