Consumers be aware when selling goods through social media

By Claire Kendall, Trading Standards Milton Keynes

Trading Standards in Milton Keynes is aware of a new scam that is affecting consumers and a drop shipper in the local area.

The consumers offer items for sale through eBay, Facebook etc. They receive an offer to buy from an individual, who goes by a different name for each transaction. The consumer then receives a fake email from the scammer, appearing to come from the selling platform. It states that the scammer has transferred the money. The scammer then gives an address for the delivery of the goods. The seller posts the items (normally cameras, iPhones, and the like) to the address. The seller never receives the payment and the selling platforms do not get involved. This is because the scammer does not carry out the transaction through their system. This means the consumer loses their goods and has no way of recovering the value of the item. Consumers are reporting that they are losing £100s with each fraudulent transaction.

The occupier of the address given by the scammer is another victim in this scenario, in this case, a business offering logistics services. They receive the goods and consolidate a package for their client before sending the goods on to the scammer. Of course, the drop-shipper is unaware of any issues. They have now received significant negative feedback on public websites declaring that they are scammers. The reality is that the real scammer has abused their service.

How to spot the scam

This type of scam can be difficult to spot. These are a couple of things you can look out for:

  • A drop shipper will need to have a reference number on the package to know who to send it on to. Look for suite or apartment numbers with a lot of digits.
  • Before sending your goods, visit Google Maps, look up the address and have a look at street view. Are you looking at a residential property or an industrial unit/warehouse etc? Industrial areas may not be a good address for you to contact the buyer of your items.

If you’ve been a victim

If you have been the victim of a scam please call Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133 or visit Citizen’s Advice