We have received advice from Action Fraud, which has received several reports that people selling items on online marketplace websites are falling victim to fraud by bogus buyers. We would be grateful if you could share this with your members, stakeholders, staff, as you feel appropriate.
How does the fraud take place?
Typically, the bogus buyers contact the seller wanting to purchase the item for sale and advise they will be sending the requested amount via PayPal or other electronic payment method. The seller then receives a fake, but official looking email stating they have been paid more than the asking price and to send the difference back to the buyer’s bank account. In reality, no money has ever been sent to the seller; the bogus buyer has spoofed an email and purported to be an online payment company. All contact is then severed with the seller.
Anyone selling online has potential to be targeted by fraudsters in this way, but the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has identified that those selling sofas, large furniture and homeware are particularly vulnerable.
How to protect yourself:
Don’t assume an email or phone call is authentic. Remember criminals can imitate any email address. Stay in control. Always use a trusted payment method online, such as PayPal, and have the confidence to refuse unusual requests for payment like bank transfers.
Don’t be rushed or pressured into making a decision: Always verify that you have received payment from the buyer before completing a sale.
Listen to your instincts: Criminals will try and make unusual behaviour, like overpaying, seem like a genuine mistake.
If you have been affected by this, or any other type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.