We advise all our TerraShops members and users to be vigilant at all times. Should you receive any message that raises suspicion, please treat with caution.
Such a message might have been sent by someone trying to defraud you (advance-fee fraud) – also known as a scam.
Always be on the lookout
The following or a combination of them may be a red flag for a scam:
- Does the buyer make use of odd phrases, or strange or unusual formatting in their message to you?
- Do they offer to pay you more than the asking price for your product? – this type of scam is referred to as “overpayment scam” and we have described what it looks/sounds like below.
- Do they tell you that they are a businessperson, a soldier or oceanographer or they are away on a sea voyage?
- Do they insist that you send an email via your personal email address or outside of TerraShops? Any buyer who insists immediately on taking communicating off the TerraShops website may be a red flag.
- Do they appear or seem to not have read or studied your listing, due to their vague questioning?
- Have they refused to utilize the TerraShops Checkout system in order to disqualify the transaction from TerraShops protections?
- Do they have a specific interest in a product of high value? – many scammers tend to be interested in mid and high-value listings.
How the scam appears
Usually, the scammer tries to talk a seller into accepting payment for way more than the product’s worth. If successful, the Scammer goes away with both the money and the product. The bad news is that they rarely get caught.
A scenario of how such scam occurs
Mr. X has a product listed for the sum of $500 and this catches the attention of a Scammer. Subsequently, they offer you $1,200 through check – the additional money meant for shipping costs. Then you’re asked to transfer the remaining money back to them once the product is shipped (sometimes you may have shipped the item and you may be asked to keep some extra money on the product price.
You agree to their demands and you deposit the $1,200 check at your bank and then send the remaining $600 back to the scammer. You do all these before the check clears from your bank. The waiting time between deposit and processing is referred to as “float time” and this can last for up to 7 days.
Once the processing of the payment is complete, your bank will find out that it is fake. The whole $1,200 will be collected back from you by the bank – you’ll have to repay the bank $600 since you have sent the scammer $600. Since you will have already sent the $600 back to the scammer. If you have spent part of the $900 you thought you earned, you will also be required to pay that. You’ll also lose your product, if it has been shipped.
Usually, these Scammers operate multiple TerraShops accounts and send different sellers the same message with very little or no editing.
Note that Scammers usually focus on sellers who have high-priced products in their shop and those who have fewer sales.
Below, is an instance of a scam message below:
Do you have this product available for purchase? I’d like to know more about it.
Can you tell me about the current condition? Do you accept PAYPAL?
What’s your final price?
You can reply to me via my private email: Look forward to doing business with you! Kind Regards
Why does this scam work?
Most of the time, the scammer’s payment is forged – usually as a check, money order or electronic invoice via PayPal or other payment platforms. If it is a check, it is fake and a worthless paper as your bank may allow you to deposit it, but the payment will not clear. You are responsible for the entire amount to your bank.
If a PayPal payment, you’ll either get a fake PayPal confirmation email from the scammer or he’ll pay you using a fraudulent payment source. You will be responsible for all the money lost to the scammer.
Do not trust a PayPal payment which is contingent upon you shipping the item before the payment is “released” to your account, unless you’re paying through an escrow agent or company.
Take note: Funds sent back to the scammer are lost! What you should do
Ignore the message, don’t reply to it! We do not advise you to engage these scammers for any reason as doing so will only cause you to receive more spam messages.
We are very active in preventing these scammers from defrauding our members, therefore, if you receive any suspicious message, kindly Contact us [email protected].
Should you have any more questions regarding a suspicious message you received, or if you sent funds to a suspected scammer, please contact us by clicking the link.
We also encourage you to reach out to your financial institution and law enforcement and report the suspicious case to them.