Within 24 hours of the first ad for my camper going online, I received the following SMS:
“Interested in your post on tradingpost, reach me at ************ @bigpond.com for further contact as I have hearing problems and prefer email. Regards Neil,” the enquirer wrote.
This had all the classic smells of a scam, but I replied politely and beat him to the punch by pointing out that I wouldn’t accept PayPal. That was the last I heard from Neil.
The next morning I received the following:
“Is your Aussie Swag Classic 2002 still up for sale? Please reply with price to *********** @ outlook.com”
I responded the same way again and that was again sufficient to short-circuit the conversation. Anyway, why ask the price if it was there in the advertisement?
Three days later came another SMS:
“Hello, is your trailer still for sale. Kindly email me its condition with your asking price to *************** @outlook.com Email only.”
Now, my online ad had a quite comprehensive (I thought) 483-word description, but I dutifully replied with my condition that payment was acceptable only in cash, verifiable bank cheque or direct bank transfer. This time it didn’t stop a determined scammer, who replied:
“Thanks for the swift response...I am OK with the asking price. due to the nature of my job and location...i will not be able to come for inspection, am a very busy type as i work long hours every day, i have gone through your advertisement and i am satisfied with it. As for the payment i will be paying you via the fastest and secure way to pay online (PayPal). I have a private courier agent that will come for the pick up after the payment have been made ...so no shipping included. You can now send me your PayPal email so i can pay in right away and also include your address in your reply. If you don’t have a paypal account, you can easily set up one...log on to www.paypal.com. au and sign up. All i really need from you is the exact details. Kindly delete the posting as am definitely buying it from you and it would be sad for me to make the payment only to be informed of the its sale.”
Despite his insistence, I responded:
“Thanks for the kind offer, but I cannot and will not accept payment by PayPal and have no intention of creating an account. If you have the funds I’m sure a bank transfer would be much more convenient. I cannot release the camper to anyone until I can confirm the funds are in my bank account. I’m sure you understand my caution.”
Alfred, because I had determined that was his name, came back:
“Due to my present location my choices are limited and not often available by the phone i would have call you. I am an honorable person and you will receive your money cash in hand before this is picked up. However, it’s easy and free to open a paypal account. Just go to there website www.paypal.com and sign up a personal account there. Paypal is the world leading payment master that protects both buyer/seller interest. You are on a secured transaction with paypal. Above all, it’s like instant cash. As soon as you open an account, get back to me with the name and email that you linked with your paypal account and I will have your money sent asap. And due to the nature of my job and having being a paypal customer for the past 18 months with no charge back, I feel more comfortable sending my funds via paypal due to there various security measures at ensuring safe and secured transaction between both buyer/seller. But, if you feel otherwise, I totally understand.”
I figured Alfred would be better off as a PayPal agent, but despite the long winded exchange I dutifully replied:
“Thanks for the reply. While I am familiar with PayPal and its uses to pay accounts online I am still much more comfortable with the cash/bank deposit/bank cheque processes and feel I must stick with one of those.”
I thought I was cutting off all his lines of manoeuvre, but he didn’t give up:
“As regards the payment, I can pay you through direct bank deposit, using paypal instant bank wire transfer service, I will need your bank details. If you are not comfortable with that, you can set up a paypal account proper at www. paypal.com.au and I will make the payment through paypal, this way, all I will need is your paypal email address.”
You would have thought he’d have got the message, but again I had to underline things:
“Sorry, I cannot have anything to do with PayPal. I would just want a straight bank transfer, from your account to mine.”
Thankfully, Albert got the message.
But that wasn’t the end. Until the camper was sold, it was advertised on three other online sites, and each time it appeared there was a wave of three or four scammers, all with the same modus operandi and all (except Alfred) dropped out as soon as I made my stipulations about payment. I was tempted to send them a bulk email to put them in touch with each other. I’m sure they would have much to share.