Thousands of transactions take place without incident through our Classifieds each month, but it is worth knowing how to identify potential scammers or con artists who could try to take advantage of our trusted community. Here are some tips and tricks to watch out for to avoid becoming a victim of fraud.
1. If something sounds too good to be true it most likely is.
2. Check out the user’s history on Bike Hub.
Do they have any Trader Feedback? How long have they been a member?
Have they posted in the forums?
Remember: The majority of new members with no posts or feedback are legitimate, but the membership period, trader feedback and active contributions are all signals to suggest trustworthy seller or buyer.
3. Chat to the buyer or seller over the phone.
You’ll get a feel for how much they know about bikes and the item they’re buying or selling. If they avoid talking on the phone and opt for SMS or send “please call me’s” alarm bells should go off.
4. Try to deal with someone in your area.
Meet in person to see the item and exchange money. This way you can confirm the specifications and condition of the item and keep the payment simple. Be sure to take someone with you and / or meet in a public place (e.g. your local bike shop if they are open to it).
5. Dealing with people at a distance.
If you’re dealing with someone in another area consider finding a willing and reputable third party (e.g. family / friend or bike shop in that area) to deal with the seller, confirm the details and complete the transaction. Or consider using an escrow service to protect both parties.
Keep it simple: The simplest way to transact is face-to-face exchanging goods for cash, but be cautious of where you meet someone.
Never accept payment via cheque or cheque deposit: Fraudsters often use stolen cheques or a cheque will not clear after you’ve already parted with your goods.
Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT): When the money involved is large, cash is can be inconvenient and be risky to carry. When transacting via EFT always confirm receipt of funds with your bank before parting with your goods. Be wary of proof of payment emails and SMSes from the buyers bank as confirmation – these are easy to fake. Confirm with your bank to see if and how the transfer was made and if the funds have cleared.
The warning signs: Potentially Fraudulent Sellers
- Selling an expensive bike or other item at a suspiciously low price
- Provides limited information about the item or seems unable to provide answers to standard questions
- Is unclear or ambiguous about the authenticity of the item for sale
- Repeatedly fails to answer calls or emails
- Will ask to send payment via an unfamiliar service (e.g. Western Union or MoneyGram)
- Is unclear on or keeps changing the specifications of the item for sale
- The reason for sale seems suspicious, e.g. a R50 000 bike which is the wrong size
- No pictures are provided or pictures have been pulled from other adverts online
- The seller is unable to ship the item as they are travelling, but requires payment immediately
The warning signs: Potentially Fraudulent Buyers
- Will ask to pay via an unfamiliar service (e.g. Western Union or MoneyGram)
- Will offer to pay by cheque (of any kind) or avoid cash / EFT
- Will not ask pertinent questions, e.g. to confirm sizing or the condition of goods
- Will request that you deliver the item before payment is made
- Will try to rush the deal as the item is a gift for a family member (e.g. son or daughter)
- Will request that you deliver the item to a friend / associate of theirs
Watch out for fakes
Keep a lookout for counterfeit items which are often passed off as so called "replicas" or even the real thing.
The term replica typically applies to team branded kit and accessories. A replica is a licensed, legal product and most often produced by the same manufacturer of the original team / brand kit. A fake is an unlicensed copy and is illegal.
- Fakes items are not limited to clothing and accessories. Fake bike frames and components are common.
- Price can be a good guide. If the price for the item does not match other second hand originals or is well under standard retail it could be a fake.
If you are not sure if an item is original ask the seller for proof of purchase (from a shop or legitimate supplier). If you have any further doubts please report the advert and rather be cautious.