My scam radar is malfunctioning, scam or no scam?

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1/11/2021 9:00 AM

I'm selling one of my mountain bikes through another popular bicycle site called Pinkbike. I've been contacted by a person who seems interested and has expressed the desire to buy it. My scam-o-meter is somewhat confused though, and that's why I'd like to hear some opinions.
There are several red flags, but none that are the "kiss of death" kind, and also some indication that it might be legit. Let’s start with the red flags:

1. The way he talks. First message there are 5 "sir" in 2 lines, then after that it's a lot of "my friend". Ok, without trying to sound prejudiced or stereotyping, I can tell this gentleman is probably foreign, likely from India. I've talked to enough of them to know what they sound like via email. Also, his username is very Indian sounding. Again, nothing wrong with that, but keep in mind a lot of online scams originate from India.

2. He gives me this sorry story how this is "everything he has" and "please" sell it to him at $5800 (I am asking $6200 for the bike), this is "all their savings" (his and his wife's).
Ok, first of all, I'm no brain surgeon, but you'd have to be a fucking idiot to spend your life savings on a $5800 used (although mint!) mountain bike.
Making some kind of emotional connection with the victim is another technique often used by scammers.
But I've made some terrible decision myself, so I can't just call it a scam yet.
Plus, he's negotiating with me which is actually a green flag, most scammers will give you asking price with no hesitation.

3. He says he wants the bike and will pay by PayPal but to put it into two different receipts, one for $5,000 and one for $800, because he "can't make transaction more than $5000". Again, weird, but I don't know all the ins an outs of PayPal, maybe there's some truth to that.

Normally I would just be turned off by all this and not waste any more time, but there are some things that make me think it could be legit.

1. He seems to know what he's buying and has read my lengthy description of the bike. E.G., he said not to include the Scorpion stand (basically worthless) because it might scratch the bike (true) but to include the (expensive) KS Lev dropper. Most scammers have not a fricking clue of what they are trying to buy, let alone these specific details. He also asked about if there were any chips or blemishes on the bike, which is a legitimate question.

2. He texted me from a legit number from Louisiana (although numbers can be spoofed) and gave me a real Louisiana address. This is another grey area... The address is some crappy auto repair place in Baton Rouge, LA.

3. He's a "Plus" member of Pinkbike, which costs $49.99 a year. Not that it means much, but it is unlikely for a scammer to spend money on a forum subscription (unless of course they are not using their own money)

Now here's the thing. I am the seller and obviously I'm not shipping the bike prior to payment, so the only way I can get scammed is by charges being reversed by PayPal after I ship, either because the method of payment was fraudulent or because he makes some claim that he didn't receive the goods. At the same time, the only way he can gain something out of this, is if he gets the goods. This is of course if he doesn't pull the ol' "oh, I sent extra money on accident, please send money back to this other account" stunt, that's of course the kiss of death and will be the end of it.

Now, how can he get the goods if he's not the legitimate tenant at that address? Nowadays you can pretty much track your UPS/Fedex truck down via GPS. Theoretically, he could wait for it to show up and somehow intercept that big ass box... really though? this seems unlikely. Most overseas scammers just want to trick you into sending them money, they don't actually carry out these elaborate plans to physically steal your stuff. He could also be the owner/worker at said shop, and say he never got it or it was damaged. Or he could have an accomplice at this address. Or this could of course be not a scam at all, and he's just a nice fellah that enjoys the finer things in life, even if he can barely afford them. Or the scam is something else and I'm not thinking outside the box.

Either way, my question for you is this, how can I protect myself and do my due diligence as the seller so that once I'm paid there's no way for PayPal to back charge me?



1/11/2021 9:06 AM

For me, if it seems fishy I just pass it up. I’ve probably passed on some legitimate sales, but I haven’t been scammed yet either. Maybe talk on the phone and get a feel for the guy?


1/11/2021 9:08 AM

If your instincts are trying to tell you it’s a scam, you might want to listen to them. There are plenty of legitimate buyers that you can sell your bike to.


1/11/2021 10:30 AM

Pass. Find another buyer.


"Sorry Goose, but it's time to buzz the tower."

1/11/2021 11:21 AM

Hard scam, don’t do it.


1/11/2021 4:36 PM

If he has $5,800 he should be paying you with cash. . . Anytime paypal is mentioned, it's a scam. Don't even consider it unless you want to lose money or the bike. Or both.


1/11/2021 5:22 PM



1/11/2021 5:24 PM

Highly suspicious.

I wouldn't use PayPal for something like this. Pretty common here to just do an Interac email transfer via online banking app.



1/11/2021 7:00 PM

Scam. Sell to a local guy/gal for cash or go to the bank together and have them give you a check.


No Signature.

1/11/2021 7:21 PM

Trust your gut, there's ALWAYS another buyer out there smile


"I love the smell of race gas in the morning"

1/11/2021 9:58 PM


Non Gratum Anus Rodentum

1/11/2021 11:04 PM

We have a scammer on our local equivalent of Craig's List who uses similar tactics. He has contacted me for every bike I have sold over the last 10 or so years using various versions of the same story. Also always has a fair understanding of what he is buying.
The dead give away is always the PayPal payment method and sob story. I'm not sure how exactly they "reverse of funds" but I'm not willing to test it.


1/12/2021 4:36 AM
Edited Date/Time: 1/12/2021 4:39 AM

Just to clarify, this is not a local sale, I'm in Chicago and the buyer is in Baton Rouge, LA, "allegedly". Obviously I'd prefer a local sale with cash, but sometimes that's just the way it goes. I've successfully sold several other bikes, some pretty expensive, where PayPal and shipping were involved, through either eBay, Pinkbike or Facebook.

There are other means of payment of course, but some are not really safe for the buyer either, after all I could be the scammer. The problem with online transactions is that at the end of the day, someone's always going to take a risk because there are no way to verify who's being truthful when there's a dispute. PayPal tends to side with the buyer. For example, buyer says: "oh, he sent me a box of rocks!" Here's your money back sir. It's all based on trust.

There have been other red flags since:
He sent the money via PayPal but funds are in "pending status". He keeps insisting that I send him an invoice through it instead, because it's "easier that way".
I did some digging and the 5000 transaction limit is an actual thing, when you use a credit card to pay and CC numbers are easy to steal.
And than the big one, the address listed in his PayPal is the same Louisiana address he gave me, but instead of saying United States at the end, it says Cambodia. This would completely void seller's protection in a dispute as you'd be sending the goods to an address different that what's listed. Yeah, no.
Lastly, the PayPal fee calculated is 4.4% and not the standard 2.9% which confirm it's an international transaction

I am an inquisitive mind and I still wants to know what the scam really is. Again, he only gets rich if he actually gets the bike. I don't think he's really at that address to get it, I think this guy's overseas. Of course there could be other trickery that he hasn't got to yet, to try to get money out of me somehow.

But I'm not going to find out just to find out don't worry, I'm putting the kibosh to this now.


1/12/2021 8:03 AM

Good call. Nothing wrong with selling to out of state buyers, but do your due diligence and verify everything checks out. Looks like you have.

I once bought a wheel for a buddy. His gf curbed one on her brand new Camaro. Between the time I ordered it and the time it was delivered, they broke up. Guess who was stuck with one wheel for a car he didn’t own? lol I ended up selling it on Craigslist to someone in a different state. We both had trust issues for scammers, so he had a great idea. He called the UPS Store here in town and explained it to them. Then he had me take the wheel down there and the guy there inspected it and verified everything for him over the phone. The buyer then paid the UPS Store via credit card over the phone for the wheel + shipping, and had the UPS Store to pay me cash for the wheel. It worked out well for both of us. But it was only a couple hundred, not $5k.


1/12/2021 3:48 PM
Edited Date/Time: 1/12/2021 3:49 PM

Some guy on here i felt like they were a scammer. Sign up 2 days after i posted a 06 cr139 top end as a member. After i called him a scammer i got some bs hate from users on here. So i gave him a chance.

But i said nope after he tried to use the ship it to me on my fedex account as COD. That's getting setup for the buyer to say they didn't get it and a PayPal dispute. because i wouldn't have control over the package like requiring a signature etc.

They also put a wanted add up for more 05+ cr125 parts. I noticed their only replies were in the classifieds section. I sold it to another vital member who didn't play shipping games.


1/12/2021 5:31 PM

I buy lots of stuff on Craigslist/Kijiji and pay with PayPal. So please don’t say anytime PayPal is involved, it’s a scam. That’s simply not true.

What I find helps a lot is to request/send (depending if you’re the buyer or seller) a photo of your drivers license. That must match the “Ship To” address being requested, and the same of the PayPal account. Also, a FaceTime call would help to prove to the buyer that you have the bicycle you’re claiming to be selling, and for you to actually see the drivers license in the buyers hand. That can calm the fears of both the buyer and the seller. If he refuses a FaceTime call and/or can’t produce a drivers license with the Louisiana address, then tell him to pound sand.


1/15/2021 7:19 AM

Are you familiar with VIVIAN H. ROGERS? She has a set of skills scammers learn to appreciate.


I don't have to be as smart as you hope to be some day anymore. wink

1/18/2021 11:31 AM

Find a Vital Bro in Baton Rouge area.

Tell the buyer you will ship the bike to the Vital Broski in Baton Rouge. He can go pick the bike up from the baton rouge broski, and hand him over 5800 in cash.

Vital broski can keep 100 bucks for his trouble, and send you the remaining 5700$.

If the guy balks at it you know its a scam, if the guy says ok ship it and neve rpicks it up you're just out the shipping. Cheap insurance.