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PSA: Helpful Hints for Detecting Scam Retail Websites

1563 Views 7 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  El Caballo
Every once in a while someone finds an overseas website with screaming deals on bicycles...that are too good to be true. Yes, they're scams, and you will lose all your money if you try to buy something from them. Here's the most recent example:

Here are some telltale signs. Please feel free to contribute your own.

Guaranteed scam:
1) They sell Trek, Gary Fisher, Specialized, and/or Cannondale. Those companies don't allow mail order. Any website advertising them without the proviso "Store Pickup Only" is 100% fraudulent, guaranteed.
2) They ask for payment via wire transfer, Western Union, money order, or anything besides a credit card or Paypal. This is a sure sign of a scam, because these payment methods leave you no recourse in case of fraud.
3) On Ebay, if the seller asks you to complete the transaction outside Ebay, run away. It's a scam. Often the auction will say "Email me before bidding" and they'll try to hook you once you do.

Probably a scam:
1) Prices dramatically lower than American websites. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
2) Carries every single bike in the lineup of many different popular high-end brands, and they're all in stock. Riiiiiight.
3) They're in Asia. I haven't yet seen a legitimate Asian bicycle retail website...not saying they aren't out there, but I've never seen one. Yes, there are some Asian companies selling stuff direct on Ebay.
4) I've seen websites that claimed to be the Internet presence of a local shop in, say, Missoula (the shop, of course, doesn't actually exist). If in doubt, look it up first on Google or Yahoo Maps.

Ebay section:
1) 1 or 3-day Ebay auctions with absurdly low BINs are a scam. Someone's account has been hijacked and they're trying to get as much money as possible before the owner finds out. Check the seller's history: someone with a few random buys and sells won't suddenly need to sell six $3000 bikes in two days. If you try it anyway and the seller asks for payment by wire or Western Union, run away. Even Paypal is no guarantee, because the accounts are often linked with the same username and password.

Thanks to everyone who is contributing...keep it coming!
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Good tips for avoiding those situations. But, the example you cited is legitimate. Here is a better example:
Don't forget Specialized. If a website is selling Specialized, then it is for sure a scam.
also check, you will find many of them there
If you're not sure it's a scam and want to take a risk the best way is to pay with a credit card or paypal you are almost guaranteed to get your money back.

Never send cash or western union, checks, travelers cheques, money order etc...

....and for ebayers looking for a bike... never respond to the ads where the seller posts up his email address and tells you to email him first before bidding. Flag those posts right away.
Oops...I linked to the wrong thread. Thanks, ncfisherman.

Good point on Specialized, and great point on deals outside Ebay. I'll add those to the list.
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