Do NOT send money!


An attempt at defrauding a buyer was recently brought to the attention of the bidorbuy customer support team. The scam works like this: a seller lists an attractive item,  in this case, a temptingly priced car in the classified section. When an interested visitor responds to the classified ad, he receives a letter that purports to be an automatic email from bidorbuy. The fake message is worded like this (grammatical incongruities of the original have not been amended):

“You’ve bought an item!
Congratulations you have bought the following item!
Next Step? Complete payment !
The seller require the payment for this item to be done through MoneyGram money transfer because it is his only way to receive the money in United Kingdom. You can use MoneyGram services at Bidvest Bank and Standard Bank. You must go to a MoneyGram office with cash and make a Money Transfer to the name and address of the seller for the amount you and the seller agreed for the item. You must complete a form there. You must write there the seller’s name, location, amount. You must declare it a personal transfer ( you will tell to the agent from MoneyGram that you are sending money to a friend of yours ), otherwise you will not be able to send the money. Because the fee to send a MoneyGram Money Transfer is high, compared to other methods of payment, we have arranged with the seller and he will pay the fee (i.e., if it costs you  R 500 to send the payment, take R 500 from the amount and send the balance).  Once the payment was sent, email to the seller at the following information :

1. 8 digit Reference Number
2. Exact sender’s name on file with MoneyGram
3. Your street address on file with MoneyGram
4. City and country where you sent the money from
5. Amount sent
Payment details:
Bianca Monkeres
10 Osborn Street
London, E1 6TD
United Kingdom
Delivery details:
(The prospective buyer’s name and address details)

Safe Trading Tip
Currently, the seller has a R 50,000,00 deposit in an BidorBuy purchase protection account. After you have made the payment you will receive the item in 3 days. After the item is received, you have ten days to inspect it. If it is complete and as described, you should accept the item. If not, you have 10 days from the reception date to request a refund. Refund requests are processed within 24 hours. The insured amount of the transaction will be taken from the seller’s purchase protection account and refunded to you. The refund is sent to your bank account, or by check or money order. The way you are refunded is at your discretion. Also we confirm that the item that you are buying is on the name of the seller, there are no money owing on it and it comes with a clear title. You are buying from a VerifiedTrader so if something goes wrong or you are not satisfied with the item you will receive your money back in maxx 24 hours.

This is what the fake message looks like:


And what are the giveaways? Well, there are several:

  • The buyer only enquired about a classified ad he found on bidorbuy and the next thing he knows he receives a request to pay for a purchase.
  • No purchases on bidorbuy are covered for the amount of R50,000. Under the buyer protection programme, the maximum cover is R3000.
  • The seller is outside South Africa, and only South African sellers can participate in the buyer protection programme. Such sellers are verified and they have a green tick next to their username. The amount up to which the purchases made from them are guaranteed is also clearly stated next to their username, for all to see.
  • bidorbuy never suggests to buyers to use MoneyGram or any other cash transfer method. On the contrary. Cash payments of any kind are excluded from the buyer protection programme.

The buyer who alerted us about the attempted scam did not fall for it.  To make sure that you do not become a victim of this or a similar scam, do familiarise yourself with the entire bidorbuy Safety and Trust Programme. Once that obligatory reading is under your belt, you will be able to hunt for your dream-buys with confidence.

Update posted on 1 September 2009:

The scammers described here advertise on several sites, including online classifieds and auto selling sites, in South Africa and in Australia.  They then send an email pretending to be bidorbuy, even though the listing is on another site.

And guess what? There are people who fall for it – and send the money. The moral of the story being, do not let greed overpower your better judgment. Whether you saw a listing on bidorbuy or on another site, do some homework before you send money. The sweeter the deal seems, the more homework is required of you.