Ok so I've lost $1800 in three months to scammers. Obviously, the immediate response is that I should be more careful, but currently there is no protection at all via Dropzone.com. And granted I don;t think they should be the middle-man for us but I think we should at least attempt to take a look at things and find out how we can make it safer to shop here. I'm to the point now where I suspect every ad there, and I know that's not fair because I have purchased things successfully and have had good experiences.
So what can we do?
One thing I would like to see is an address and phone number listing for people posting ads on the classifieds. That will at least let people know that there is some loss of anonymity when trying to sell or buy something there.
Right now you can create an account, post a listing, and list NO information whatsoever on who you are. I can;t even put an add in the paper with that little information.
Scammers as in plural....multiple instances? Good god. Simple rule of thumb for me is to get a tiny bit of info from a seller about where they jump, who they know and who their rigger is. If they can't answer any of these questions you can be guaranteed you are dealing with a scammer. If they give you a line of shit of how they aquired the gear (selling for a friend.....came from a spouse.....bought it at a garage sale,etc....) then don't deal with them. If they can tell you where they jump, who they know and who their rigger is it is easy to verify their authencity.
I am still shocked at how many people get scammed on here......be careful before you send money!!!
What stops someone from posting a fake address? You'd mail something to each person you might want to buy from or sell to?
Face it, we're all anonymous on here unless you make the effort to find out about the other person yourself. Skydiving is a small community. There aren't many people buying or selling gear that are completely unknown to the rest of the skydiving world. It shouldn't be hard to do a little background check and buy or sell in safe ways.
A lot of sites have buyer/seller feedback sections. That might help a little, but most people aren't constantly buying or selling so I don't think it would be used much.
Don't give money to strangers. Luckily there are no strangers in skydiving.
Well, you also choose not to post any information about yourself. Some people just like some anonymity. I try not to buy gear from someone with no information posted, for me it is a red flag. If you do buy gear, pay through a method that will protect you such as paypal. Never send cash or checks to people you don't know. Never send money overseas via Western Union to people you don't know or whose identity you cannot verify. This is a sport with a strong sense of community, every skydiver completed their student training somewhere, so they should be able to name an instructor or rigger who can vouch for them. Don't just take their word, follow up. It is pretty simple, if they can't, don't buy from them. Don't be afraid to walk away from any deal, there will always be another one. There is always some element of risk when buying through classifieds, rather than dealing locally. You have to accept that risk and make it as small as possible.
I'll direct sangiro to this thread, but we've had this discussion before, the result being that it would remain the buyer's and seller's responsibility to do enough due diligence before transacting. In the meantime, I'll continue to squash the obvious ones.