Given a bit of an increase in scammer reports this month I feel that it's the right time to just remind users of the safest procedures when it comes to buying and selling on dropzone.com and address some of the frequently asked questions.
First of all: Be sure to check our listed scammers database before any transaction. In fact, check it as soon as you receive an e-mail response to any ad of yours. If the person is listed in the database, cut all contact immediately. You can see the list here: http://www.dropzone.com/...orum_view_collapsed;
How can I tell if the person who contacted me is a scammer?
More often than not it will be fairly easy to see whether the user is a scammer or a legitimate buyer from the way they phrase their e-mail.
Nine times out of ten they will not do any research into skydiving prior to messaging you and as such their message will be generic and could apply to any sale item on any site.
They will often refer to it as "the item" or "your item", they will also copy/paste the name of the ad when referring to it. eg: "I saw your ad for the Velocity 90 - brand new lines and wanted to know your lowest price"
Another indication from the above example that it could be a scam, is the double spacing just before the gear item's name. This is caused from the copy and paste process. Now it's not to say every time someone copy and pastes the title that they're going to be a scammer, but it's another thing to look out for.
You should also note the language used in the e-mails, if the person is listed as being from America or England, you can generally expect decent English. Phrases like "I saw you canopy online and want buy it" from English speaking countries is another alert that it may be a scammer.
A big red flag is the buyer saying that he will send someone to collect the item or has a courier service that will pick it up. Most of the time this will be a scammer. But of course there are legitimate users who use this method, so as long as you can verify that they're a skydiver, the chances are much less that it's a scammer.
Check their username on the dropzone.com, while there are a lot of buyers who are not active on the forum, you can use it as a way to unflag people who may seem dodgy. If a user has thousands of posts on the forum the chances are that they are not a scammer.
Finally, if you end up failing to spot the scammer before he sends you payment, you should be easily able to recognize one once the payment arrives. They will often send a cheque for an amount greater than the item.
Someone suspicious has said he'd like to pay with paypal, that's safe then right?
Paypal is a lot safer than the cheques that most of the scammers use, but as of late there have been scammers targeting Craig's List and a couple here too who claim to be willing to pay via paypal. Some times these scammers are using stolen credit cards to make the payments through paypal, which are then reverted later on when the theft is reported. Be equally as careful here.
I think a scammer contacted me, what should I do?
If you receive an e-mail from what looks to be a scammer, you can forward the e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org - I check this account daily and perform any necessary actions on scam users involved. This usually involves disabling the username from the account, investigating their IP address and blocking the IP from the site.
If you are not quite sure if it's a scam or not, you can always contact the buyer and ask them for a reference to their dropzone and their skydiving license number. Scammers will typically back off completely when asked such a question but should they provide a response and you still feel it's a scammer, give the dropzone a call and get a reference.
I received a cheque in the mail and it is from a scammer, what do I do?
If you have the misfortune of being contacted by a scammer and receiving a cheque from them for the sale, only to realize upon receiving it that it was indeed a scammer. We recommend firstly that you cut all contact with the scammer. Secondly, while I'm not too sure of the laws regarding the handling of fraudulent cheques, the best thing to do would probably be to take it to the bank and explain the situation or take it to the police.
It's a certified cheque, does that make it trustworthy?
Nope. Some of these scammers are using fraudulent cheques which can even clear the original bank clearance process, only to be noted as fraud at a later time, where-after you will be the one responsible for it. Be carefully with certified cheques too.
We do our best to keep the list of scammers as up to date as possible, and make any additions as soon as a scammer is identified.
We also make sure that we disable the scammers account and have recently resorted to blocking their IPs too. Unfortunately some of the scammers send out mass responses in a short period of time and by the time we have listed them a couple of hours later, some users are already having an e-mail exchange for them.
The best idea is to check the scammers database on receiving a response and again before sending out the item.
Hopefully this will help some of the classified users.
(This post was edited by Meso on Aug 31, 2011, 8:57 AM)