How I Avoid Getting Scammed on Forums
Written by: Kuroyukihime.
NOTE: This is just a thread filled with tips on how to avoid getting scammed as both a buyer and a seller based on MY experiences! And yes, I did say "on forums", meaning this is NOT related to buying or selling on site. Also, these tips are NOT fail proof. While they do help prevent scams, they will not guarantee a safe trade.
So I've seen a lot of people getting scammed, and it really sucks seeing people lose their items, pets, accounts, etc, which is why I want to share some tips. Some of these I'm sure most of you know about, and some you might not, but this guide is mostly aimed towards new traders who are cautious about buying or selling. I hope this will be beneficial to some of you.
Tips for Buyers!
-Check out who your seller is. Are they reputable? Or are they a new member to the forum? Do they claim that they have vouches off site? First of all, there is ALWAYS a slight chance that even reputable sellers will scam you. Why? They may either, a) be desperate for money, b) they may have found a good opportunity to scam, or c) you might be dealing with a large amount of money that is enough to tempt somebody to destroy their own reputation.
With that being said, most reputable sellers are relatively trustworthy, especially ones with just about every item in Neopia. The reason why I think this is because they have slightly more to lose. First of all, think of it this way: you were offered a high paying job as a cashier. Would you just steal $300 at once, and leave your source of income? Same thing goes for these sellers. They have so much in stock, all they pretty much can do is sell it for real money.
Now, about the newbies... Newbies are generally harder to deal with because they're new to the forum. A lot of people will not know who that newbie is unless they have transferred from another forum, but on the other hand, not all newbies are scammers either. My only solution for this is USE A MIDDLEMAN!
(Everything will be elaborated later on in this guide)
-How has the seller contacted you? By PMing you? Posting on your buying thread (if you have one)? Adding you to MSN, Skype, or any other form of instant messaging? Well first, it's weird, but I always check to see if my seller has a selling thread up before replying to any of their messages. It makes me feel safer when they put their name out there because it makes a seller slightly more vulnerable. This also applies to them, posting on your buying thread. Secondly, I feel very uneasy when sellers contact me directly on my instant messaging accounts, which is why I always get people to PM me before I accept their contact requests. That way, I can verify that they actually have an account on whatever forum I'm on and I can actually report them if they decide to scam me.
(More will be elaborated later on)
-Shadiness. Newbies, lack of vouches, desperation. All of those things will set off flags in my head. Now again, not ALL newbies / people who are desperate for money are scammers. However, if a newbie with no vouches approaches me, asking me to buy Neopoints at a ridiculously low price, I will reject the offer unless they are willing to use a middleman (oh hey, a lot of things seem to go back to using middlemen)
What I do to prevent myself from being scammed AS A BUYER
1) I'll check who's contacting me first. If it's from somebody that a lot of people trust on the forum (e.g. middlemen, moderators, etc), then I'd go ahead and buy from them. If it's from somebody who nobody knows very well, I'll explore their profile, check out what sort of posts they've made around the forum and see if they have any vouches.
NOTE: Notice that I didn't say "how many posts a person has", but rather, "what SORT of posts they've made"? Honestly, to me, post count matters a bit, but not that much. What matters more to me is the quality of their posts because it shows what kind of a person they are. If they're literate and kind, then I'll respond to their message(s).
2) I'd usually ask for one's MSN, Skype, etc. or the seller's Paypal email (if they have one). It may seem fishy, but heck, I don't see why they wouldn't hand out the information, especially since if I was going to buy something from them, I'll need the email later anyway.
3) The reason why I'd ask for their contact information / Paypal address is to confirm their identity. I always Google a trader's contact information before trading, and you have NO idea how many scammers I've caught by doing this. Besides that, I ask for people's Paypal addresses because of two reasons.
a) I want to see what their email address is. It sounds weird, yes, but I've dealt with somebody who had a Paypal email named "email@example.com", which caught me off guard the moment I saw the name. Most people have more professional names for a Paypal email address rather than something like Neopets.
b) I want to check if my seller is verified or not. How? I go here:
(Replace the "EMAILHERE" with the email address you received from your seller) If they are verified, they just seem more trustworthy. Plus, it's probably a heck of a lot easier to track down their home address if they decide to scam you. Plus, most verified members don't "account hop." There are people who have more than two Paypal accounts. If your seller is requesting you to go first, and if their Paypal is unverified, there MIGHT be a chance that they'll transfer that money onto their alternate account and run away.
Also, if a trader talks to me directly off-forums and they claim to be so-and-so, I'll ask them to PM me for confirmation.
4) Vouches, vouches, vouches. There are a couple of things I want to say about vouches. Firstly, as mentioned above, just because somebody has a lot of vouches, doesn't necessarily mean they will not scam you and vice versa. Secondly, I'd still check for my seller's vouches. If they have some vouches / iTrader, I'll go ahead and check when their most recent trade was. The reason why I do this is to see how often they buy and sell, and to see if they're lying about their stock or not. Frankly, it's really weird to see somebody make their last trade about three years ago, only to come back and sell once again. However, that doesn't necessarily mean anything either. Maybe somebody just wanted to get back into the market, but I'd still be cautious.
If somebody mentions that they have vouches off site, I'd ask for a vouch thread or some sort of proof. If they link me to a thread or a profile, I will proceed to register for that certain forum, and request for them to PM me for confirmation.
Besides that, there are some people who'll make alternate accounts on a forum and vouch for themselves. First of all, make note of when all of your seller's vouches were posted. If they were all only a few minutes or even a few hours apart, then chances are, they were vouching for themself.
Honestly, while vouches are nice to see, I wouldn't base a person's trustworthiness off of them. If anything, I'd suggest using a middleman.
5) Testing your seller. I'd test my sellers and ask them if they want to use a middleman, regardless of whether I'm willing to wait for one or not. If the seller agrees, they've passed the test. I'd wait about 10-20 minutes before sending them another message just to prove their patience. If the seller ignores you or pushes away the idea of using a middleman (for example, if they say that they have to leave in a few minutes, or if they say middlemen are just too inactive), then bam, you have caught a potential scammer. (Also, most people who ACTUALLY urgently need to leave in a few minutes will make note that they are willing to use a middleman, but only when they get back)
6) Too good to be true? It almost always is, UNLESS the seller has a legitimate reason (e.g. bills, rent, books for school). Often times, bulk sellers will sell for a discount, but those are not usually considered "too good to be true." However, if the average price for NPs is $2 / mil, and your seller is more than willing to sell for $1 / mil, just reject them. It's better to be safe than sorry.
7) Pushiness. Some sellers will push you to go first (and I don't mean simply subtly PMing you with sending instructions). Most pushy sellers seek out newbie buyers just so they can say "you have less vouches than me" or "you're a newbie, so you should go first." Actually, most sellers won't even point out who goes first. Over the years, having the buyers go first is pretty much common practice. If your seller feels the need to shove the fact that you're a lower rank than them and you must go first, I'd personally ignore them.
Conclusion to the Buyer's Section
Basically, I'd personally only buy from reputable sellers, or sellers who are willing to use middlemen. I'd investigate my sellers to see what kind of a person they are, and if they seem shady, I'd reject their offers. Simple as that.
Tips for Sellers!
-Check out who your buyer is! While most buyers go first to sellers, it's always safe to check out who your buyer is, and do a little research on them. See if they've had any scam reports against them, see if they'll potentially scam you or not. As I'm more of a seller than a buyer, in my experiences, a lot of buyers like to add me directly onto my instant messaging accounts. While sometimes, I'd ask for PM confirmation, most of the time, I don't. Why? Because most of my buyers have always been newbies, and it doesn't seem to make much of a difference if I ask for PM confirmation UNLESS they claim to be a reputable buyer.
-If you're using Paypal, ACCEPT PAYPAL GIFT ONLY! This way, your buyer can't charge back that easily. Sure, they can still dispute you, but it'll be harder for them to win. Call Paypal if anything goes terribly wrong.
What I do to prevent myself from being scammed AS A SELLER
1) Much like the buyer's section, I'll research my buyer. I'll ask them for their instant messaging contact information. I'll Google their information, and if there's nothing that sets off alarms in my head, then it's all good. Most of the time, buyers don't need vouches to buy from you, but it's always safe to check out their account profiles. However, as mentioned before, most of my buyers have always been newbies, so it's hard to check.
2) Do your research! Again, much like the buyer's section, do ask your buyer for their contact information AND they Paypal email (if they have one) Google their information. Now, it is very important to ask for their Paypal email because of, a) their Paypal email name and b) checking if they're verified! (Again, the link is: https://www.paypal.com/us/verified/pal=EMAILHERE)
Most verified members will not charge back. It's stupid to get themselves labelled as scammers. If you're a seller and IF you do get charged back by anybody, really, you should call Paypal.
3) Pushiness. Believe it or not, I've had buyers who've forced THEMSELVES to go first! That set off MULTIPLE alarms in my head. It most likely means they had the intent to charge back. Of course, there are buyers who'll say, "I'd be happy to go first", but that's not what I'm talking about here. I'm saying I've had somebody PM me saying, "I'll buy your entire stock, but under one condition. You let me go first.", and it was just really obvious. If they PUSH you to let THEM go first, just reject.
4) Most sellers go first. If somebody pushes YOU to go first, don't do it unless, a) you are incredibly new AND they should have plenty of vouches as well, or b) they are somebody reputable (e.g. a middleman, moderator, staff member, etc). However, this doesn't mean as a seller, you should go around screaming, "SELLER'S PRIVILEGES. YOU'RE THE BUYER. YOU GO FIRST OR I WILL GO FLIP TABLES."
5) Using Paypal but afraid of getting charged back? Accept Moneypak. Moneypak is a card you can buy at many stores in the States. You can load them up with money at the cashier, and there should also be a code for it on the back of the card. If you have a US Paypal account, you can insert the card code into your Paypal account, and your funds will be available immediately. Your buyer will give the code to you directly so they can't charge back. However, this won't work if you DON'T have a US Paypal account.
A better guide / explanation on how to use Moneypak: http://clraik.com/forum/showthread.p...using-MoneyPak (credits go to ikakk)
Conclusion to the Seller's Section
Honestly, there isn't a lot you can do to protect yourself. Frankly, often times, it's the buyers who have to find ways to prevent themselves from being scammed. Sellers are usually at the advantage point, except they have the risk of being charged back (which usually happens with big trades. Namely ones over $100) The most important thing to keep in mind is doing your research on your buyer. It sounds like it takes a lot of effort to do with every single buyer, but it's not, trust me.
Conclusion to the Guide
Well, I've shared my tips with you guys now, but I really don't expect a lot of people to follow my advice. Most of my tips are common sense anyway, but nevertheless, there are plenty of buyers out there who don't know what to do, or they simply can't tell who is a scammer or not. Leave a post or PM me if I've missed out on anything, or if you want me to add something to the guide.
Anyway, thanks for reading!
P.S. USING A MIDDLEMAN IS THE BEST WAY TO GO.
Last edited by Kuroyukihime; 12-21-2012 at 08:52 PM.
Omg, I came to post "ironic"
he scammed mspp right ? probably made this guide to illustrate his "trustworthiness"
Don't send as gift anymore, especially if you're the seller. Paypal does not cover sellers for virtual items anymore
That's why I never lend anything hahaha