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Alert: Scammers in the Buy & Sell Section
Scammers are a fact of internet marketplace life. And while we take the best precautions we can, monitoring private messages and offering advice about common scams, the scammers are always going to try. It’s what they do.

The Shipping Scam

Recently, we have gotten numerous reports of scammers pull the Shipping Scam. It has happened to people both new to Shanghai and long-term expats with varying degrees of success. Here’s how it works.

The other party will contact you like normal, often through WeChat (found by your phone number) and want to buy what you’re selling. Their WeChat ID may be a jumbled string of capital letters and numbers, and they often do not have any Moments. They often don’t ask any questions about the item or try to negotiate, like most humans do. The scammer will setup a time to meet and ask for directions about how to get to your place or a designated meeting location. Then, either close to the time or after failing to show up for the meeting, they will give an excuse that they were suddenly assigned a work trip to a different city for an extended period. But anyway, the purchase is a gift, they’ll say, and could you send it directly to my nephew in Guangzhou or Shenzhen? Of course, they will offer payment first via bank transfer — there is always some excuse about why they can’t use WeChat payment.

They may in fact — and often do — offer a bank receipt to prove the money has been sent. THIS IS FAKE. It is easy to Photoshop this kind of stuff, and they do. What happens next can be straightforward or get more complicated. In some instances, they will say that the bank receipt is enough proof, and won’t you go ahead and send that expensive keyboard / computer / bath toy to their friend or relative in another city? Other times, they may offer “evidence” that the money is being held by a third-party or escrow service and once you provide proof of shipping, such as a legitimate tracking number, the money will be released to you. THIS IS FAKE. THIS IS FAKE. THIS IS FAKE.

This is fake.

What Can You Do?

First off, yes, it’s not as convenient as WeChat, but we STRONGLY suggest that when prompted by the SmartShanghai Buy & Sell listing page, choose to communicate via private message and do not give out your personal contact details. Once you take the transaction off the site, it’s easier for the scammer to manipulate you with no oversight on our part.

Second, be aware that this is happening.

If a prospective buyer asks you to send items to another city, take it as a red flag and be very, very skeptical. Almost — you know what, fuck it, just don’t do it.

If a prospective buyer offers you bank “evidence” but your own bank has not recorded an incoming transfer, do not send them anything.

If anyone asks you to send them something ANYWHERE (including in Shanghai) without paying you in a normal, uncomplicated fashion, don’t do it.

The Pet Scam

A less common scam preys on pet lovers. SmartShanghai only offers animals for adoption — we do not support commercial transactions for animal friends — but that is not enough to eliminate scammers. Often, they will post pictures and listings of uncommonly cute and adorable kittens, puppies, cats and dogs up for adoption, with one catch: they are not in Shanghai. No problem!, they say. They’ll ship the animal to you, they say. But then the scam kicks in. You pay for shipping, but the product (the animal), which probably didn’t exist in the first place, is never sent. You are out the shipping fee.

What Can You Do?

Like with other scams, try to communicate via the SmartShanghai message function so that we have oversight of the transaction. If you must move it to WeChat, then DON’T GIVE MONEY TO PEOPLE WHO HAVEN’T GIVEN YOU WHAT YOU WANT. Basically, trust is an integral and fundamental part of human existence and without we would all be selfish animals tearing and growling at each other but… BUT… be extra careful of who you trust when you involve cash and money in new internet-based relationships.
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  • 12 days ago graydo

    I have had several "buyers" recently asking me to ship items I had for sale to other cities, and have asked to pay via bank transfer. I refused, because who doesn't have Wechat or alipay. Seemed fishy. After reading this article, I'm glad my suspicion seemed correct. Exactly what you have mentioned happened to two of my items for sale. "I had to leave Shanghai for...blah. Can you send to my niece in Guangzhou? I'll send back transfer because I just closed my Wechat account". Be careful out there!

  • 8 days ago DiegoContreras

    I just got this one, haha

    Hi, Please, kindly accept my apology for not being able to meet you as I agreed to. It's because I left for Hong Kong unexpectedly, due to an order from my superior to resume for supervision of a new project, and it will take me at least three weeks.
    Although I'm still interested in the laptop because I'm buying it for my niece who lives in Guangzhou. If mailing it to her in Guangzhou will work for you, then I will bear the shipping cost. Please, let me know if that will work for you.

    Once again I'm really sorry.

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