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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.

TELL EVERYONE

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  • 2 years 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!

  • 2 years 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.

  • 2 years ago Chrisdahulk

    Just got this one :


    Please, accept my apology for not been 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 Oven 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.

  • 2 years ago sudasan

    I having this experience now. This true. So far my experience related to this post
    step 1: person shows the interest on the product
    Step 2: agreed the meeting location and time
    Step 3: not turn up
    step 4: send apology email (boss suddenly assigned the business trip)
    Step5: requested to send the product to next city (to his nephew for present)
    ...........
    Nevertheless, i wont send the product until i get paid. But this article help me lot to realize /understand
    whats going around in China / Smartshanghai.com
    - Sud

  • 2 years ago Longdistanceagain

    Good information, thanks for posting to us users.

  • 2 years ago nasser

    good information thanks I really appreciate it

  • 2 years ago mei330

    Just got this one :


    Please, accept my apology for not been 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 drone 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.

  • 1 year ago Grapplers

    People do actually get to sell things on this site though... right? Or is it just a bunch of scammers now?

  • 1 year ago yogifatur

    Omg, i just realized that the scam were very tipical. Just dealing with this series of conversation yesterday. Thanks God i pull it off. Might be useful for others to know :

    Hi, I supposed to get back to you before now but, I was in the middle of urgency which is inevitable.
    There was another development early yesterday. I was ordered from Macau by my superior to resume for supervision of a new project immediately. That's why I won't be able to meet you as we agreed because I left for Macau yesterday. Please, kindly accept my apology. It wasn't intentionally done.
    ...
    Although I'm still interested in the camera because I'm buying it for my niece who lives in Guangzhou. If mailing it to her will work for you, then I will pay the shipping cost. Please, let me know if that will work for you. Once again I'm really sorry.
    ...
    I'm having a problem getting my new card accepted by WeChat and I have been trying to get it solved but not working yet. Will you accept bank transfer to your card instead?
    ...
    My Alipay account has been deactivated last month upon my request because I thought I was leaving China but fortunately my contract was renewed by the company.

  • 7 months ago bobolovejiujitsu.94

    Good

  • 7 months ago stepanzel

    Long before this article was published, I got scammed with a fake escrow service (Barclays Bank) and I actually shipped the stuff to Guangzhou (why is it always Guangzhou though, is there a club of scammers or what?)
    It only dawned on me when the “escrow” service demanded some additional fees to be paid on Bitcoin. That is not a real behavior of an official bank, is it?
    I checked the email headers and turned out, all of them were fake.
    So if you ever receive a payment confirmation from a bank, check the details in the mail header.

  • 5 months ago mweiland2010

    My "buyer" - Cynthia K Russel, who will be in Macau for the coming 3 weeks - also has a niece in Guangzhou haha. Too funny how typical it is!

    Hi ,

    Please, kindly accept my apology. I supposed to get back to you before now but I was in the middle of inevitable urgency. A few minutes after my last message to you, I received an order from my superior in Macau to resume for the supervision of a new project, that's why you didn't hear back from me until now because I didn't check my email before I left for Macau this morning.
    Although, I still have an interest in the Air Purifier 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 add shipping cost for you to mail it. Once again, I'm really sorry for the disappointment, it wasn't intentionally done.

    Thanks.
    Best Regards.

  • 3 months ago casanovaelrey

    @graydo I don't have either but then again I'd never ask someone to ship without paying first

  • 3 months ago JustArrived12

    I have got another one just now "I had to leave Shanghai for...blah. Can you send to my niece in Guangzhou?

    Guess with all this info out there, scammers need to be more creative now.

  • 1 month ago Lovett

    I got exactly the same response from a scammer for my iMac computer , share it below so that you will know when you encounter this :


    Hi,

    Thank you for your response. But Unfortunately, I have left for Macau upon an order from my superior to resume for the supervision of a new project. I didn't have a chance to check my email before I left. Although I'm still interested in the item

    because I'm buying it for my niece who's living in Guangzhou. but, since it is pick up only, there is nothing I can do.

    If mailing It to her will works for you, I will add the shipping cost for you.

    Thanks.

  • 26 days ago ZhanDan

    Luckily I read this now, the "buyer" whose name is "Cynthia K Russell" sent me email, who asked my address to pick up my guitar and never showed up at her appointed time, then apology for urgent business to Marcau by supervisor, "Cynthia K Russell" has a niece in Guangzhou, then still wanted my guitar. And when I asked her to pay via Wechat, she said there was a problem for Wechat payment. Then I asked her to pay to my bank account, she showed another screenshot of transfer, but I don't receive any money in my bank card!
    I almost got fooled and nearly believed her, I bought packing materials ready to mail my guitar to Guangzhou. Thanks that I read this alert now.

  • 12 days ago faizy02

    All these comments saying that the buyer left for hong kong unexpectedly. Thats defintely fishy. I just got the same message but buyer left for macao so it must be legit buyer :P

  • 12 days ago jennlin82

    Cynthia K Russell (cynthiamrs02@gmail.com), is at it again. Following the same play book.

    “Sorry I had to go to Macau urgently upon my bosses request, the shoes is gift for my nephew in Guangzhou, can you ship them I will bank transfer the money as my wechat and Alipay had been closed since I’m moving”

    They even went to the trouble to email me a bank transfer from USAA bank. Using a fake email address, and the document is obviously photoshopped.

    Sellers beware.

  • 6 days ago rndltrnc Unverified User

    Wish I'd read this thread earlier as I too received a message from "Cynthia K Russel" (cynthiamrs02@gmail.com), unfortunately after sending an item to Guangzhou this afternoon. Luckily, it looks as though I will be able to have the item returned as it's not yet been dispatched.

    Same play book, as above:

    "Please, kindly accept my apology. I was supposed to get back to you before now but I was in the middle of inevitable urgency. A few minutes after I sent you a message, I received an order from my superior in Macau to resume for the supervision of a new project, that's why you didn't hear back from me until now because I didn't check my email before I left for Macau.
    Although, I still have an interest in the printer 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 add the shipping cost for you to mail it. Once again, I'm sorry for the disappointment, it wasn't intentionally done."

  • 3 days ago GypsieRubie Unverified User

    I wish I could have read this article earlier.
    I lost almost 550 USD by selling my backpack to this ‘Cynthia’.
    After transferring 3 times money into ‘her’ account and yesterday I realized that I got scammed and went to report in the local police station.
    Not sure how likely I will get my money back but it’s truly sucks and I feel extremely terrible.
    I think Smartshanghai must be more strict with posting adds in the Buy and Sell section in future.
    This is really an expensive lesson.
    Hope more people know this and be aware of this kind of scams!

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