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Buy / Sell / Wanted Scam Warning


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Scammers are really a pain... It would certainly be helpful if members could rate each other, indeed!

This reminds me of a phone call I received a few years ago, on my professional mobile phone. The person was claiming to be from "the French Telecoms", and that I had big overdraft, like 300€. Which I had to pay immediately, of course. But that was obviously impossible, since the line was paid by my company, and the phone contract wasn't even with "the French Telecoms".

So I decided that this poor fellow would pay for all the others scammers, and started playing with him. I asked naively who he was trying to reach. "Well, you Sir!"... Duh! :D  And when I asked him what my name was, he said "But it doesn't matter, I'm the french telecoms, you need to pay!"... To which I replied: "Sir, how do you know I owe you money, if you don't even know who I am?". I think the argument was logically too powerful, and he hung up on me :( 

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We’ve had a number of reports of scammers joining SGL and pming members regarding their classified or wanted posts. The message reads along the lines of - I saw your advert and my uncle / stepfat

If any of you get a PM from new member Jeff753, please ignore it. Jeff753 has been identified as a scammer and is now banned.

We are banning these folk as fast as we can. I would ask everyone to remain vigilant and hit that report button at the slightest suspicion. I'd rather have a few false alarms than have a member scamme

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38 minutes ago, dweller25 said:

Had “BT” on the phone today who had been checking my line and wanted me to go onto my computer to sort it out.....

No way ose 😂

Sounds like one I had a few years ago. His story was that my computer had a virus and was sending out loads of emails. I played along. It provided a good 10-15 minutes amusement and preventing him from scamming others during this time. He had me checking the computer registry! There is a 'CLI' number in there that is unique and the proof that he is genuine. Actually it is common to lots of Win10 computers.🤣 As often with scammers,  his command of English was not that good and 'British Telecom' was sometimes 'British Technical'. In the end when I asked for proof of his identity, he gve me a phone number for his supervisor. It was actually a London theatre booking office!
They can be fun if you have 5 minutes to spare.

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1 hour ago, garryblueboy said:

I had this scam few weeks back

Same here. First there was a 'serious' message about NI nr. being used for illegal activites and that all my assets will be seized or something like that. I knew it's a scam so I listened to the end and pressed '1' to speak to a 'case worker'. The guy on the other side asked me to give him my details so that he can 'open up my case on his computer'. I told him they should have all my info as they are calling me. We ran two more circles like this and he hang up.

Now this kind of a scam is a simple one and you can quickly 'smell it' out but they are getting sophisticated. The message they play conveys urgency and at first my heart started pumping but as soon as they mentioned police seizing my assests I knew it was a scam. They would never tell you that in advance ;) I can see how some people can fall for it.

Be careful with your info. In any case if someone calls you from a bank, wherever just ask for a name of the person and then say you are going to call a bank service number yourself to see what is going on.

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36 minutes ago, heliumstar said:

Same here. First there was a 'serious' message about NI nr. being used for illegal activites and that all my assets will be seized or something like that. I knew it's a scam so I listened to the end and pressed '1' to speak to a 'case worker'. The guy on the other side asked me to give him my details so that he can 'open up my case on his computer'. I told him they should have all my info as they are calling me. We ran two more circles like this and he hang up.

Now this kind of a scam is a simple one and you can quickly 'smell it' out but they are getting sophisticated. The message they play conveys urgency and at first my heart started pumping but as soon as they mentioned police seizing my assests I knew it was a scam. They would never tell you that in advance ;) I can see how some people can fall for it.

Be careful with your info. In any case if someone calls you from a bank, wherever just ask for a name of the person and then say you are going to call a bank service number yourself to see what is going on.

Most are easily spotted bad spelling and grammar and the best for emails check the source address with any telephone scams it’s best to say Ill call you back and use your contact number for bank HMC or HMGOV to check if your worried it’s real 

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I put up a Wanted post for an Ethos 13 yesterday. Inevitably I got a PM from some random new member saying his stepfather (or similar) is divesting himself of all his stuff, he had just that item, email him at some address. Having read all this I simply pressed the Report button, upon which @steppenwolf the mod kindly banned the particular account being used.

However, a common theme seems to be that the email address one should apply to for said item seems to be some combination of Jeff, Rasher, Raymond, and 753. And gmail.

But the pattern is the same, and I guarantee if you put a wanted ad for something reasonably valuable, you will see for yourself.

I'm seriously tempted to open an account using that email address at various highly disreputable website-services.

A more serious suggestion would perhaps be to “head up” the wanted section with a specific warning about this particular MO? ie “my relative” etc etc

Cheers Magnus

Edited by Captain Magenta
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I have only ever made one purchase from SGL adverts. It wasn't a huge sum but I still took comfort in that I was buying from an established and respected member. Needless to say that the transaction was flawless and the item was exactly as described.

And that's my advice. Only buy from an established member. Period.

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On 28/01/2021 at 17:39, Space Oddities said:

Scammers are really a pain... It would certainly be helpful if members could rate each other, indeed!

An excellent idea worthy of investigation. A SGL user rating appeals but may not be easy to implement.

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I have bought a few expensive items through our system. All of which I also knew about the seller from other members as they are friends. Over the years you get to know the names from previous posts on here on SGL. I would guess 99.99....% are absolutely honest. It is just the newer members with little or no posts to their names that may be somewhat suspect, not because they have done anything to deserve it, but because we have not known them for very long. AND that is the crunch!

One scammer can engender a suspicion of and about  many very honest advertisers.

Not nice or conducive to the safe feeling we have experienced for many years thus far.

I have to be honest, this line of posts may be  necessary but also is fermenting a sour feeling for me at least.

 

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Although there are some rules which SGL provide, perhaps if advertising you could put in your add.

Please Note:
Purchasers require to have been a member for min of 3 months. 
Min of 25 or so tickets/discussions
Seller has right to choose whom the item is sold to.
 

Just a thought. 

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Is there any advice from the SGL community on what would be the best way to do international sales of expensive equipment? If PayPal's protection for sellers isn't satisfactory, and for the buyer a bank transfer offers no protection, what is there to be done? If both parties deem each other trustworthy as such, but sums involved are large enough, some mutual protection is required. 

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27 minutes ago, Nikodemuzz said:

Is there any advice from the SGL community on what would be the best way to do international sales of expensive equipment? If PayPal's protection for sellers isn't satisfactory, and for the buyer a bank transfer offers no protection, what is there to be done? If both parties deem each other trustworthy as such, but sums involved are large enough, some mutual protection is required. 

The biggest thing to consider is trust compared to spend.
Unfortunately bank guarantees and carrier insurance do not alwys work out. Particularly carrier insurance.

Ask yourself. Do I really trust the seller of a £50 eyepiece? Not very much?
Will I lose sleep and be unable to pay the food bill this week if he he sends me a fungus ridden and scratched eyepiece? No I will survive.
If they balance out, you may well take a chance on £50.

At the opposite end. Do I trust this seller to send me a £5000 scope and mount? Is he truthful about condition? Will he pack it correctly? Will he ensure it is correctly insured?
That sort of transaction requires a lot more trust, and a lot more questions asked of the seller.
You might also look up the sellers post history on SGL. Is he a 'contributor' or someone who post farms with 'likes'?
Maybe discreetly ask by PM others who have bought from him in the past. As described? Well packed? etc.

As a general rule post count, content, and tme as an SGL member count for a lot with me.
I have never had anything go seriously wrong with a purchase from an SGL member.

HTH, David.

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18 minutes ago, Nikodemuzz said:

Is there any advice from the SGL community on what would be the best way to do international sales of expensive equipment? If PayPal's protection for sellers isn't satisfactory, and for the buyer a bank transfer offers no protection, what is there to be done? If both parties deem each other trustworthy as such, but sums involved are large enough, some mutual protection is required. 

Personally I don't think there is anything that can be done unless you go through a dealer which I'm sure would make it too expensive. Even if you would get something in place (e.g. contract or similar), it would be very difficult to enforce. I have looked at escrow services (e.g. escrow.com) but there always seems to be someone at a disadvantage and in any case they would know nothing about astro gear and could not make an impartial decision. So I think that someone/both will have to take a leap of faith...

I have sold and bought expensive equipment internationally but in all cases:

  • I could clearly establish who the other party was and that they have a track record in astronomy, a physical address and email address that matches etc. etc.
  • The item was clearly described with detailed list of included items etc.
  • The buyer was satisfied that the item was in satisfactory condition (photos, videos, test images etc.)
  • Images were taken before, during and after packaging the item
  • Buyer confirmed that he/she was happy with packaging
  • Buyer chooses the carrier/delivery method
  • Buyer explicitly took risk for transit damage
  • Payment was via bank transfer before shipment

This clearly favours the seller of the item but I think it closely mimicks the usual 'sold as seen' approach for second hand items and (for me) is the only way to handle things when expensive items and shipping costs are involved.

Hope this helps....

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One thing i always like to do to make sure the seller has the item is request a couple of images from specific angles showing a specific part of the product.  It may be a closeup

of the polar scope on the mount, markings on eyepiece, back side of hand controller (which is usually never photographed) If they are not in possession of said product 

then its a sure bet your request won't be met. I lost $250 to a scammer, Maybe if I had done this at the time I would have saved myself some money.

Edited by Sunshine
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The trust that I have developed with SGL members is worth a great deal, and I have never had a single problem, whereas I have had the misfortune to come across one or two very nasty individuals on other sites.

Any expensive item I have collected in person and for that reason I would find it impossible to send a large sum of money on trust alone, unless I had a very good reason, such as knowing them. Not always possible to do that for some items, I understand, but  then I would not go for said item.

Edited by Saganite
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Yes, I must admit,  a good reputation on SGL  counts for so much.   Knowledge, experience and decency ... that's my memory of all the transactions I have made on here.

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Thank you all for the constructive comments!

I have bought several things from SGL members without any issues, but they have all been relatively small purchases. Now it is a bit different. I have a wanted ad for a TSA-120 or a TEC 140, which paints the picture of scale of the purchase.

Even if there is no foul play on either side, things can happen. I trust the seller is legitimate, I trust that he has the item, I trust that he has portrayed its condition honestly. Yet I still get an extremely uneasy feeling about bank transferring such a sum... :)

Perhaps buying used was not an option for me after all, in this case... 🤔 I think I'll have to sleep on it and think it over.

Edited by Nikodemuzz
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It's a real problem lately, I had 35 scam calls one day a few weeks ago. They soon got fed up but still get the odd one. Calls came up from various places such as Belarus, Russia, African countries, etc, ect. I've bought most of my equipment second hand, several expensive items. I always use my credit card through PayPal. Items have genuinely been great buys. I think past reputation goes a long way. You can find out fairly easily if a person has a track record in astronomy. 

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On 30/01/2021 at 22:19, Captain Magenta said:

I put up a Wanted post for an Ethos 13 yesterday. Inevitably I got a PM from some random new member saying his stepfather (or similar) is divesting himself of all his stuff, he had just that item, email him at some address. Having read all this I simply pressed the Report button, upon which @steppenwolf the mod kindly banned the particular account being used.

However, a common theme seems to be that the email address one should apply to for said item seems to be some combination of Jeff, Rasher, Raymond, and 753. And gmail.

I had this clown too when I was looking for an ASI 178 a month or so ago. 'Ray' was selling stuff for his deceased father and 'Ray' was disabled and couldn't use it.

Pictures were emailed of a 178 mono, I explained it was a colour one I was after - surprise surprise - photos arrived of a 178 colour but the cooled version. I explained it was the uncooled version I wanted - guess what - he had one of those too!!  Bank transfer only - no Paypal.  

It seems there are no depths that these scumbags won't sink to.

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As a lurker on this forum for a little while and a relatively new sign up - and someone who is actually in the market for some gear - I can quite understand sellers here wanting to be very cautious.  I would be too.  The unfortunate side effect of course is people such as myself might get caught between a rock and a hard place while sellers may potentially miss out on a genuine buyer.  Maybe I should stop lurking and contribute some posts 🙂.

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I got into astronomy about 40years ago and have bought and sold loads of used gear over that time. I have never been a victim of a scam on any transaction and I think the reason for this is that I've always bought from or sold to, people who I am satisfied have a genuine interest in astronomy. Just ask questions and opinions on astronomical topics and you'll easily tell whether the person is a genuine astro-nut like all of us or a sad pathetic scammer. Grow up and get a job!

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