Users of this site, like those on all other online swap sites these days, are always being targetted by fraud artists. These people pirate callsigns to set up tables
and post ads for high-end, large-dollar items at low prices (but not so low as to be immmediately suspicious). They are only interested in getting your money and don't even have the gear.
Usually the text of their listings are copied from other forums like QRZ because they wouldn't know how to write the ad themselves.
I try to weed those out but cannot guarantee I get them all.
There are also criminals who are not registered who will respond to want-ads offering a tempting deal on just what you're looking for just to get your money. I am personally aware
of hams here who have lost, collectively, well over $10,000 to this type of fraud and those are just the ones who admitted it to me. I don't like to hear such stories so DON'T
BECOME THE NEXT VICTIM!.
Don't let your enthusiasm let you drop your guard! I shouldn't have to say this but not everyone you meet on the internet is who they say they are and have good intentions
- especially when money is involved.
Sorry if this makes some legitimate listings look suspicious, but that's just the way it is now - life's hard and then you die. Its your money and any legitimate seller
should be happy to
comply to satisfy all doubts.
- Please be extra vigilant in long-distance negotiations and any transaction that cannot be completed face-to-face.
- Look up the other person's callsign and check that any address you are given matches. If not, ask yourself why not?
- Do a QRZ.com or web search on the callsign. Pirates prefer to use callsigns where you have no independent way of contacting them or verifying that they are a ham so beware if they are
- Always get a phone number for the seller and speak to them directly. If they will not, ask youself 'Why not?'... no legitimate seller sould refure to give a phone number to a prospective
buyer. Make sure they sound like a ham when they're thinking on the fly.
- Reverse-lookup the phone number's area code and exchange (e.g. at allareacodes.com) to ensure it is near the QTH of the licencee. Again, if not, why not?
- Be cautious of phone numbers that belong to blocks assigned to VOIP providers - those numbers could be set up by anyone anywhere to look Canadian but forward
to a computer anywhere in the world. Several scam attempts have given Iristel numbers but it seems Iristel will sell a virtual number to anyone that can be forwarded to anywhere in the
world. They don't care when presented with the evidence that they are facilitating fraud so I no longer trust Iristel numbers.
- Get pictures and do a Google image search to ensure they are not ripped off another site. Check for a recent date in the EXIF
info and if the picture could include an image of an engraved callsign plaque, QSL card or something you ask the seller to write and place in the shot would help show that the
person actually possesses the gear. Look closely to make sure it isn't just photoshopped in. Examples:
- A scammer offered one of our users a KPA500/KAT500 combo at a stupid-low price. During the conversation, the user got the following
ripped-off image with fake QSL card photo from the perp (the base image is an altered screenshot from a YouTube video
by K6OZY - same table, manual to the right, Flex-3000 to the left - and the QSL card is obviously a photoshopped-in computer-generated generic).
- Another attempt uses a faked-up screenshot taken from a YouTube 'Kenwood TS990 UnBoxing and Basic Review' video, altering the image
of the power-on screen that should look similar to this to look like he has customised the radio with his own
callsign (but its the same blue shirt and video camera reflected in the main LCD as the originator, I'll leave it to you to figure out what else is wrong).
- Do a web search on a unique bit of the text from the ad. For example, a search on "I have this listed below Elecraft station" (the double quotes tell search engines
to match the exact phase, not just word fragments in any order) revealed that a scam listing was ripped directly from another site. Scammers often don't know what they're
talking about so they rip off text (and images) from ads on other sites.
- Be cautious if an email is 'callsign' @ 'hotmail.com', 'gmail.com' or similar as anyone could set one of those up. Primary ISP
email addresses (e.g. @sympatico or @rogers) are harder to fake.
- Also be careful if asked to send payment by any other means than postal mail to the same name and address you can find for
the callsign through a reputable callsign database.
- Interac e-transfer is a secure way to transfer money directly to bank accounts. You can send the money so that the recipient can see you have sent it but you can
attach a security question that you only give the answer to after the goods arrive. You can cancel the transfer at any time up until the recipient 'cashes' it with the answer
to the security question.
- If given a bank routing number, look it up here. They are large PDF files
but you can easily search within them with CTRL-F. Do not trust any text address you are given... the network only uses the routing number. Make sure it is local to the QTH of the seller.
if not, you have to ask yourself why not. Recently, a scammer who was supposed to be in Quebec City gave numbers for a branch in Surrey BC. I have also seen numbers given that were supposed
to be for a Canadian bank branch but actually resolved to an American bank in Boston.
- P.S. PayPal Friends-and-Family does not offer buyer protection.
- Don't fall for any hard-luck story about why these things can't be satisfied (like "I'm in the hospital and can't speak to you on the phone, you have to wire the
money to my daughter's bank account").
- Don't fall for the 'third-party bogus cheque' fraud. This is where the scammer wants to buy somthing you have for sale and says they'll pay for it by
having someone else who owes them money send you a cheque, usually for a lot more than your item's price. They ask you to cash the cheque, deduct the sale price and send
them the difference. Your bank won't return the bad cheque until long after you've sent the money and the goods (which they'll just throw in the garbage - they
want your money, not the stuff) but the bank will take back the full amount of the bad cheque from your account. Now you're out both what you were selling AND a pile of cash.
- Be cautious if a the seller's registration date is very recent - scammers don't usually have the patience for the long con. I am now showing the date that a vendor registered at the KWARC SwapShop so that you can factor that into your
Here's more reading on fraud in general from the Canadian Anti
-Fraud Centre and about scams targeting the ham community from QRZ