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Earlier this year, I listed my Asus Chromebook for sale on the online marketplace Shpock.
In April, I received a notification telling me that someone was interested in purchasing the laptop.
The buyer, ‘Alex’, told me he was based in the US and offered me £110 for the laptop with a request to post it to a family member in the UK. They then suggested that we continue to discuss the sale via the messaging platform WhatsApp.
Following a brief exchange on WhatsApp, ‘Alex’ claimed the money had been sent to me but it couldn’t be credited to my account until I shared the details of the delivery tracking number.
I checked my emails and noticed that I’d received a form, which was apparently from Bank of America. It asked for me to fill out the tracking number from Royal Mail.
I checked the sort code on the form and discovered that it was in fact for HSBC, not Bank of America. My bank confirmed this was a scam.
I have since removed Shpock from my devices because of their lack of interest in my report to it.
I’m sure that it’s a minor event as far as fraud investigators are concerned, but had I not been alert and taken heed of what is being published by Which? and others, I may well have become a victim.
Robert Dixon, London
Put to Rights
Chiara Cavaglieri, scams expert at Which?, says:
This was certainly a crafty scam, Robert, and you did well to check out the sort code and speak to your bank.
Sadly, this is not uncommon. Only a month before Robert’s near-miss, another Shpock seller, who asked not to be named, was contacted by a scammer hoping to trick her.
A buyer was seemingly interested in the Panasonic CD Stereo System for sale and arranged to pay for it via PayPal. After an email exchange, the buyer claimed to be housebound due to illness and said that an ‘agent’ would collect the item from the seller’s home.
A few days later, and after having sent a fake email confirming payment via PayPal, the buyer said that they had ‘a little problem’ because the agent could only schedule the pickup after they received a collection fee of £100. The buyer wanted the seller to pay this collection fee in cryptocurrency and promised that they would subsequently refund the £100, fortunately the seller knew that this was highly suspicious and ended all communication.
Which? received no response to multiple attempts to contact Shpock. However, it does offer some advice for buyers and sellers: Only communicate through the Shpock chat (not email or a messaging platform) and avoid unsafe payments, such as bank transfers, because it only offers Buyer Protection for credit and debit card payments that are made through its app or website.
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