Buyer Beware...how to avoid being scammed!


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There is currently a lot of scam activity going on in Australia and overseas involving saddles, bridles, rugs, false tails and other horsey items.

The scammer/s usually answer online wanted adverts claiming they have exactly what is needed, then provide photos via email (which are usually illegally downloaded from Ebay or other sites). They then request funds be transferred to their bank account but don’t send the goods, leaving the buyer out of pocket.

Before sending money to a stranger you’ve met over the internet, there’s a few things you can do first:

• Make sure the seller has a legitimate email address and not just a Hotmail etc. one. Sometimes though people have to use public email services, so do a Google search on the address (be it a public email or one with a legitimate service provider) to see if it generates any alerts.

• Ask on internet forums for people to email you privately if they have had any trouble with scammers. DO NOT POST NAMES which can leave you and the forum host open to potential legal action.

• Google the seller’s banking BSB number, to see if it matches the Australian state they claim they are in.

• Google the seller’s name to see if it comes up with any alerts.

• Ask for the seller’s full name, address and phone number, then confirm this by phoning, and checking it matches listings in the White Pages. Often scammers will use a false name, address and phone number…only the banking details will be legitimate.

If it sounds too good to be true...it probably is!

If the seller is in another state, ask on a forum if there’s someone close by that can go and view the item.

• Scammers often go by multiple names which are changed regularly, so this makes it hard to track them down. If you can’t find them…don’t proceed with the transaction.

• When paying, stick to PayPal (which offers a refund if the seller defaults) or insist on paying COD, which can be arranged through Australia Post.

• If you suspect the seller is trying to scam you, contact the police.

• Be suspicious if there’s an item advertised with no accompanying photo or phone number.

Also be very careful buying saddles on an online auction site such as Ebay. Make sure the seller has a lot of positive feedback, and go read what other buyers have said. Also do a search within Ebay and see if other buyers have had problems with the seller you want to do business with.

In September last year, a 21 year old Canberra woman was given a suspended jail sentence for selling saddles on Ebay, accepting payment but not sending them. Read the full story here.

Ebay sellers not accepting PayPal should be avoided. Paying by PayPal does offer you protection and a refund if you don’t get the goods.

If considering buying a saddle on Ebay, check the seller’s past listings. Photos should be of the actual item being sold, and not ones stolen from a retail website. If in doubt, alert Ebay.

Before bidding on a saddle, first ask the seller questions through the Ebay system. If the seller is legitimate, they will be able to answer them. Keep a printed and online copy of all correspondence, which can be produced if there’s a dispute.

It’s pointless asking the item be sent registered mail for tracking purposes…often the ‘seller’ claims to have sent it but of course, it never arrives and Australia Post have no record of the number.

Scammers don’t stick to selling either…many people with horses, floats or saddlery for sale have been contacted via an email written in very poor English from an overseas buyer offering to buy the item by sending a banker’s cheque or draft for the amount, which is then quickly processed. Then the seller is then soon contacted by the ‘buyer’ asking for their money back (the usual story is that their child has been injured in an accident and they need the money to pay for treatment) and the money to be transferred back by Western Union. This is done, then when the bank cheque is finally processed (which can take days), it’s found to be a forgery.

Scammers regularly send out thousands of generic emails which most people delete….another clue is they refer to your horse, float, saddle or whatever as an ‘item’. But it only takes one person to get hooked, and unfortunately lose their money.

Scammers spoil things for the majority of buyers and sellers who are legitimate. Just remember the old adage, “if it sounds too good to be true…it probably is”!

Do your homework and lots of Google searches…and trade safe!

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