I've got quite a few emails from the user's of let.ie letting me know about suspect emails they have been receiving based on their ads on the site. I've got some of these emails myself and so I thought I'd write a small piece about the dangers of internet scams. Unfortunately attempted scams are a reality with all online classified services these days, such as ebay, buy & sell and www., but with a little knowledge of what to look out for you can be certain not to fall for them and to let your property safely.
The most common scam
The most common scam, involves a buyer from abroad (I’ve seen examples from Holland, France, Nigeria) posing as an international dealer who wants to lease a property. They claim that they are owed money by a client in Ireland or the Uk who will send a bankers draft for the full rent and deposit, plus some extra . They may ask for some pictures of the item to but will always be happy to buy without seeing the item.
The emails are often full of spelling mistakes and poor grammar to persuade the victim that the fraudster is an uneducated person who wouldn’t have the ability to defraud them. The fraudsters also try to make themselves seem genuine by stating that the item is a present for their wife, son, daughter etc and use this as reason for the urgency involved in the purchase. Many of the emails are signed off with a comment like 'regards to you and your family' or 'may the peace of lord be with you.'
The seller is then asked to pay the draft into their bank and wire the excess money to the buyer to pay for the shipping costs. The bank draft itself may seem genuine but be wary; I've heard reports of bank drafts being accepted which have watermarks and bank branch stamps on them but are revealed as forgeries after being paid into the bank.
**** NB Note : The TSB bank draft Let.ie got was accepted by our local TSB and our account was given credit for this amount for 7 days before the credit was withdrawn and the draft deemed invalid !!!!! The drafts look very genuine !!! be warned! ******
After the money has been sent, the seller hears nothing more from the ‘tenant’. Normally, the bank will contact the seller after a few days to tell them that the bankers draft was stolen, forged or that it has bounced. The money may look like it has cleared initially but can go on to bounce days later so check with your bank how long it will take for a bankers draft to completely clear and do not release the excess until your bank confirms the funds have cleared.
If the bankers draft is forged the money will be stripped from the sellers account, leaving them up to thousands of euro out of pocket (depending on the deal in question) and neither their banks nor insurance companies will help to mitigate their losses.
What to do to avoid being scammed
Be extremely suspicious of any overseas buyers, especially those who are willing to buy your item without even viewing it (in person).
Use common sense. As with all things in life if something seems too good to be true then it probably is.
I put this warning up on let.ie to make people aware of potential scams that are out there. But I really don't want to scare you off using the website. Like I said already, potential scams are an inevitable part of online classifieds sites like this. But as long as you are aware of what to look out for you won't wind up unhappy. Of the thousands of people using let.ie nobody has yet fallen victim to a scam (that we know of), and with your help we can keep it that way. Thanks for reading.
There are lots of other sites with more information about various scams.
Click here to visit Scambuster, the author likes to play along with the scammers and has actually managed to scam the scam artist out of his own money! Do not try this yourself...
Thanks to Robert at www.everything.ie for the use of this article.