How to avoid being scammed online

4 Apr 2019

Selling your used camera gear on reputable classified sites like the Outdoorphoto Community is convenient and profitable, but when doing business online you must take care not to fall prey to scammers. Scammers are getting better at their attempts to get your money or personal details, so it’s important to know what to look out for when buying or selling second-hand gear online. By following these guidelines, you may avoid time-consuming questions between buyer and seller.

The product

When looking at a product online, pay attention to how it is presented. This includes information and images.

The very first thing is to determine whether the images are actual, unedited photos of the product or whether they are stock images. Don’t pay for goods you haven’t seen as you might not be getting what you paid for. The product description should have more information on the condition, but actual photos are often the best determiner. Consider whether the item is new, in excellent or in good working condition? Does it show slight signs of use or marks of harder work?

Next, read the product description. Cameras, lenses and accessories all need complete information on the make and model of the item. Make sure the information provided corresponds with the suppliers’ online product listing (Canon/Nikon). Also, avoid adverts with broken English.

Finally, note what is included. Is it an entire kit or is something missing?

Man holding a camera and a mobile phone

The seller

Do a quick online search to authenticate the seller using their name, contact number and email address. Is this a real person? Does their phone number correspond with their given name? Do any skeletons pop up? Scammers often create fake online profiles using photos of other people.

This method isn’t scam-proof but may reveal a few red flags if the person’s been caught scamming before.

The payment

It’s easy to create and send a fake proof of payment so, unless it’s cash on delivery, you must always authenticate the payment with your bank and wait for the money to reflect in your account before continuing with the transaction.

If you’re buying, select the immediate payment option to put the seller at ease. If you’re the seller, ask this in return.

If anyone asks for a deposit, stay clear! This is a definite warning sign.

More tips to protect yourself

  • Too rushed: Don’t tolerate rudeness or nagging about price. Resist the pressure to make hasty decisions. Scammers often use this tactic to make quick money.
  • Too personal: Beware of someone who tells personal stories or tries pulling at your heartstrings to make a sale. These are often made-up stories to get you to comply.
  • Too much info: Avoid giving out more personal details than required, and never give out your banking password.
  • Too little info: Avoid buying products with incomplete descriptions. This may be a stub used to lure unsuspecting victims.
  • Too many differences: If you’re buying cameras or lenses, authenticate serial numbers to avoid buying stolen goods. Also, check that the serial number on the box is the same as on the item. Authenticate serial numbers as follows: Canon gear at CameraTek and Sony and Nikon equipment at Premium brands.
  • Too isolated: Avoid dangerous encounters with people you don’t know by meeting up in safe public spaces.
  • Too many changes: If the arrangements to meet up change at the last minute, consider walking away. If you urgently need the item (buyer) or you can really use the money (seller), try to get to the bottom as to why plans changed so suddenly. If the reason casts any doubt, cancel the sale or purchase.
  • Too good to be true: If it seems too good to be true, chances are it’s a scam. Unrealistically low prices and product images that were taken directly from the internet are all warning signs. Most importantly, follow your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
Adult making purchase online on mobile phone

About the Author:

The Outdoorphoto Team

One Comment

  1. Henk Neuhoff 5 Apr 2019 at 10:29 am - Reply

    If I may add some other warning signs:

  2. When the buyer is buying very sophisticated gear “on behalf of someone else” like his brother, nephew, sister… be aware!
  3. When the buyer is very rushed, they promise to make an EFT payment instantly but wants to send “his diver” or “his courier” around to collect the goods within the next hour or so… stay away. They want to collect the goods before the fake payment has cleared.
  4. If the buyer says he works on an oil rig that is why he cannot meet you and wants to pay using PayPal, stay away!
    When the buyer offers you more than your asking price, without even seeing the goods… stay away!
  5. Ask the buyer some questions. I have asked easy questions before, like what camera body do you intend on using with this lens that I’m selling? If they cannot answer simple questions like that, it’s an obvious giveaway!

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