There is a fine line between a seller and a sucker, and the difference is a scammer.
A few weeks ago, I put my wife’s beautiful F 700 GS BMW up for sale on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist. Two days later, I got a text asking if the bike was still available. I wrote back, “Yes.” They answered, “I like the bike, but it’s a little higher than I want to pay, but I want it. I will send you the money, but I am pretty far away and will need you to work with a trucking company to ship the bike to me.” Next, they asked for my PayPal account and said they would send the money.
I looked at a friend I was with and said, “This is too easy. I smell a scam”.
I got another text saying, “I have sent you the payment plus $900 for the shipping company. Please check your PayPal.” I looked at PayPal and there was nothing there. A few minutes later I got another text saying, “Check your email. You may need to check your junk mail”.
There was an email from PayPal that told me I needed to go to a convenient store and make a Walmart-to-Walmart money transfer to John Doe to pay the shipping company.
And there it was — the scam. It said that once I transferred the money, I was to take a picture of the receipt and email it back to PayPal and they would release the money for the bike, and the shipping company would contact me. Of course, the scam is to get your money to this “shipping company,” and you would never hear from them again.
When you think about it, why would PayPal send you an email asking you to go to transfer money to another money-transferring company?
I quickly Googled Craigslist, Walmart-to-Walmart scam. Boom, there was some information about a scam. It said that if you did not pay, the scammer would harass you and tell you their money was tied up until you paid the shipping cost.
A few minutes later I got another text asking if I got the email. I said, “Yes, nice try. I’m on the phone with the FBI. You should be hearing from them soon for Interstate Wire Transfer Fraud.” That was that.
A few days later, I got an email from a guy asking if the bike was still available, and he was from Raleigh. He asked if there were any dings on it and if I could send him pictures of them. Later in the afternoon, I got another email asking, “Would it be possible to send me the bike history report from checkvinup.us because my mechanic told me to ask for that, and since I asked for it, I will repay you money for it when I come to look at the bike. If you send me the report and if everything is ok. I could come on Thursday so we can discuss the price and get everything done.”
He had the checkvinup.us as a hyperlink. I never click on an unknown link from someone I do not know. I typed in the web address and it needed my credit card information to get the report. Again, I Googled it and found the same scam but with a different car history website.
Never click an unknown link. If you do, it can launch a file and do a lot of damage to your computer or devices.
As I wrote this article, I wondered if I’d removed the metadata from thephotos I sent that second scammer. Metadata is information that is captured when you take a photo. This includes time, camera information and your location.
I went back to check, and I had not removed it from the photos I’d sent. Not thinking about what I was doing, I’d sent my metadata to a scammer, and now they have my address.
To help protect against this kind of mistake, if you have an iPhone, go to Settings, Privacy, Location Settings, Camera, and then set “Allow access” to Never. On an Android, tap on the Settings icon in the Camera app and from the menu tap on the Settings icon again. A window will pop up. Tap on the Settings icon again and you should be able to see a “Location tag” option. Tap on it, and from the prompt tap “Off” to turn Geotagging off. Now you can take and send pictures without disclosing personal information.
I hope this article helps keep you safe from scammers.
If there is a topic you would like to discuss, contact me at motorcycle email@example.com. RIDE SAFE!