Specialising in the human experience of Living with prostate cancer – warts and all

Seller gets online sales scam lesson

with 2 comments

7 Jan 2009
Reprinted from Papakura Courier

By Karen Mangnall

HERE’S a tale that proves the adage that if something seems too good to be true it probably is.

Check first: Otahuhu resident Avi Cohen is warning readers to beware of an online scam that could have left him $4800 out of pocket.

It all started when south Aucklander Avi Cohen put his 1994 Nissan Skyline up for sale on the Trade and Exchange website.

His online ad provoked an exchange of emails with a Robert Hunter of the United Kingdom who was keen to buy Avi’s car for the asking price of $2000.

Even by the second email Avi says he’d begun to suspect something wasn’t quite kosher. Why, Avi wondered, would someone in the UK want to buy a car from downunder?

“He just said he wanted to make something special out of the car because it was originally a sports car,” says Avi.

So on they pressed, with Robert Hunter emailing that his “secretary” was sending a cheque to pay for the car. He also sent instructions to refund any money left over via Western Union to his “shipping agent”, one John Peters of 2 Westbury Rd, Croydon.

At this point in our story, online trading veterans will find their nostrils twitching. For Avi the rat really began to smell when the cheque arrived.

Purporting to be drawn on the Ulster Bank in Belfast, it was for £2500 or about $6800. That left a whopping $4800 surplus after paying for the car.

Avi suspected a scam and certainly didn’t expect the cheque to clear.

“It was just a feeling – but then again I thought I’d give it a try.”

So he deposited the cheque and waited, resisting the torrent of increasingly demanding emails from his UK buyer.

“He was saying the cheque should have arrived by now and where was his money from Western Union. He even sent an email threatening me that he was going on vacation and to send him the money before Christmas.”

Then came the day Avi’s bank told him the Ulster Bank had dishonoured the cheque as a fake.

His teller immediately asked if the cheque was for a Trade and Exchange sale, Avi says.

“He told me I’m not the first one and that it’s becoming common.”

Avi’s been left ruing the $165 in bank fees that his curiosity has cost him but thankful he didn’t fall for the scam completely and “refund” the $4800 before finding the cheque was a fake.

The cheque overpayment scam, a variation on the upfront money transfer scam, is prominently flagged on the Trade and Exchange and Consumer Affairs’ scambuster websites.

Trade and Exchange has promised to ban Robert Hunter, Avi says, and the scammer’s details have been sent to the British consumer protection agency Consumer Direct.

Avi has learnt a valuable lesson about being more careful with buying and selling online.

“And I hope people will be more careful about the emails they’re getting.”

Meanwhile, he’s enjoying a minor revenge on Robert Hunter. The scammer has been peppering Avi with dozens of phone calls each day.

“I just say ‘yeah, yeah, don’t worry it’s on its way’. It’s good to make him spend more on mobile phone calls before he realises.”


Written by Greg Naylor

10 January 2009 at 11:19 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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2 Responses

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  1. Greg, I guess Bob da SOB is just taking advantage of the fact that there’s “one born every minute”. As for his mother, she probably loves him. 🙂


    11 January 2009 at 8:10 am

  2. It’s just another ‘Nigerian fraud’. I’m surprised that anyone ever gets sucked in by these obvious scams but apparently they do. I reckon you’d have to be pretty gullible (and stupid) to send someone a ‘refund’ before they’d even paid you in the first place. I have no sympathy whatsoever for the victims in these cases. As they say, ‘a fool and his money … ‘

    Ray Dixon (Bright)

    11 January 2009 at 9:54 am

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