Scams and Fraud
CM is a free website for photographers and hobbyists - anyone can post a free posting and anyone can reply to a posting. It is critical that you are careful as CM does not vet any of the ads before they are posted and we cannot help you if a deal goes bad. We actively develop new methods and techniques to detect and prevent unsafe listings and unsafe users on our site. The community also helps identify some unsafe listings or users, and if we get reports of scams we ban accounts and remove ads as possible, but regardless, as with other free classifieds sites, you must exercise your own caution to avoid being victimized and you must do your own due diligence.
Rules to Avoiding Scams
Below are some common rules that you should consider, many are learned through hard lessons by various people on many classifieds sites.
- DO NOT SEND CHEQUES, WIRE, ACH, or EMT FUNDS TO STRANGERS - don't use money wire of any sort (including Direct Deposit, ACH, EMT, or Interac) to users who have little or no feedback on our site unless you are willing to risk losing the money and have 100% trust in the person. Use your own judgement when working with long established members with much feedback, but understand that Wire, cheques, ACH, EMT are methods of payment with no recourse. Paypal and Escrow services may offer more protection, but make sure to send Paypal Funds as "Goods & Services" and read Paypal's policies and understand when, what, and how much they protect you. COD may be of help but note that COD services will not allow you to inspect the package before paying. Use an Escrow service for more protection. Many buyers and sellers wish to save a few dollars by not using these services, but in doing so risk hundreds or thousands more dollars.
- When Using Paypal, Always Send Funds as "Goods & Services" - Do not send funds via the "Friends & Family" or "Gift" option unless you are willing to take the risk of losing 100% of your funds with no recourse. While "Goods & Services" will result in a larger Paypal fee, it is the only payment method covered by Paypal's Purchase Protection program and the larger fee is part of the cost of having that protection. We strongly recommend buyers use "Goods & Services" payment when paying through Paypal, which may protect you in the event of an item not being as described or an item not being received at all. Please read the Paypal policies carefully for your own country to learn if and when you are protected, but do not put yourself at risk to save yourself or the seller ~2% of the Paypal fee.
- DEAL LOCALLY with people that you can meet in person when possible - while not always possible, this will allow you to avoid most scams! (and even if you meet in person, make sure to TEST the gear before going through with a transaction, if possible)
- Audition and Inspect Carefully! - Even when dealing with someone in person, if you are not willing to take the risk, make sure to inspect the item carefully. You may want to arrange ahead of time for an audition.
- Ask for Recent Photos - Photos in a classified may be old, stolen, or fake. If in doubt, ask for a photo of the item with a piece of paper written with the user's CAM username and the current date on it in the photo as proof the seller has the item on hand.
- A phone call can help - A phone call doesn't guarantee the authenticity of a person, but sometimes while talking to someone verbally, you can form a gut feeling about shady or strange behaviour and requests. Never assume a phone call keeps you safe, however, and always ask to be the one who makes the call. A phone call is just one additional tool to gauge the sincerity and honesty of the other party (read the next note on why having a phone number will not protect you).
- Do not assume a phone number or address will protect you from fraud! - Scammers have no fear of giving out their phone numbers and email addresses. Having this information is no protection against fraud! If you think you can call them to complain you are mistaken! We have even seen cases where the police and RCMP were unable to help in scam cases where the victim knew the full contact information of the scammer!
- Fake checks, fake money orders, are a common scam - Even if your bank lets you cash them, if the checks turn out to be fake you will be charged a penalty AND the money would be taken out of your account!
- Never believe users who want to mail you a large check, and arrange pickup of your item + cash difference of the check - THESE ARE ALWAYS SCAMS! You will lose your money AND your item!
- If someone is "on vacation" or "temporarily out of the country" be alert! While this may be true, many scammers start off with this "excuse" for why they cannot meet you or why you must send money right away
- Use our Fraud Warning forum! Read the threads, and ask questions if unsure.
- Read Feedback! Every user who has past dealings will have feedback. Read those, and be aware that the feedback system is fallible and can be cheated, so treat these also with a grain of salt. If a user has no feedback you might need to be extra cautious.
- Save the URL and page contents of the Ad! Bookmark the ad that you are interested in, you might want to take a screencapture of the text as well to keep in your records. This can save you hassle later on if you cannot find the ad, as you will be able to go directly to the ad in question.
- Camera Mart cannot help you if you get scammed - we have no means of finding or contacting the scammers, as they have likely given us false information. Do not let scammers reassure you by saying that CM will help you out if there is a scam. They are lying to give you false confidence!
- Do not assume your bank will help you! - even if you send a money wire, ACH or write a cheque from your bank, do not assume the bank will help retrieve funds for you or give you private information about the individual, bank, or bank branch/ATM where the individual received or cashed their funds. Due to privacy laws it is very possible your bank cannot or will not release any information and they cannot help you uncover where your money has gone.
- Do not assume the law will help you! - internet fraud is a tricky problem. Having been victims on an occasion or two, and as people who have talked to victims of these crimes, the most common confusion is the assumption that police, FBI, RCMP or other authorities can get you your money back. Sadly, often they cannot. They may not even be able to prosecute the criminals who perpetrate these crimes. Do NOT ever enter into a transaction assuming that if something goes wrong, you will get your money back thanks to CM, the police, or anyone else! Caveat Emptor and Caveat Venditor! ("Let the Buyer Beware" and "Let the Seller Beware")
- If something feels suspicious, or too good to be true, walk away! - NEVER go ahead with a transaction where you feel the other party is being shady or acting strange. Do not let your desire to close a transaction colour your judgement and cloud you from listening to your gut feeling! If it feels like something is not right, and you can't handle the risk, then walk away! It is far worse to lose your money than lose the great deal that you simply "MUST" have!!!
- If you are not a careful person, do not like to take risk, and want more security, buy from an authorized dealer! - buying privately from another owner, no matter the venue, is fraught with risk. CM tries to minimize this risk by educating users via this webpage, and also by allowing members of our community to help identify fraudsters. However, no place is completely safe and these vultures prey on victims EVERYWHERE. If you cannot handle this , then try supporting your local authorized dealers, who are backed by the companies making these products and who can give you customer support in the event of problems with the item (and even when dealing with Dealers one must be careful!!). CM has a list of Dealers who participate or support the site. You can see all dealer listings here.
What to do if you suspect there is a scam ad on CM
Step 1: Warn CM members in the Fraud Warnings forum about a possible scammer.
Step 2: REPORT the ad using our report feature. On each ad there is a link that says "Report Problem About Ad", click on this and submit your report!
What to do if you are a victim of fraud
Step 1: Warn CM members in the Fraud Warnings forum about a scammer.
Step 2: Leave feedback on the specific ad you got scammed on to also warn other members. Be specific and detailed, but do not use profanity or insults.
Step 3: Contact us so we can ban the scammer's account and shut down their ads. Note that we have no ability to help you beyond closing accounts and shutting down ads.
Step 4: Contact a group that helps with scammers.
There are several groups that specialize in dealing with scammers.
- FTC toll free hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357)
- FTC online complaint form (www.ftc.gov)
- Internet Fraud Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov/)
- Non-emergency number for your local police department.
Common Signs of a Scam
In general the above are just warning signs, and in fact many legimate users may show the above signs (many buyers want to know your best price for example). But it is the WAY these scammers approach you, and the combined signs which single them out.
- Scammers tend to have very poor punctuation and grammar, and especially have capitalisation and spacing problems (this alone does not determine if it is a scammer, since many users on the net are lax with grammar and punctuation).
- Scammers like to pay by cashiers checks, often telling you they have to pay a larger amount, asking you to refund them the difference
- Scammers tend to have their own shipper pick things up. Or work with strange shipping companies
- Scammers may say they are out of town, or overseas for business. If they are on vacation, offer to do the transaction when they return from their trip.
- Scammers always want to ask you for the last asking price as their first contact (usually with poor grammar).
- The common, non-specialty scammers tend not to know anything at all about the product they are asking about. (on the other hand, there are some scammers that are VERY knowledgeable about the products)
The most common scams involve mailing fake checks and money orders from Canadians who are "on vacation". Be wary of anyone like this, but always be courteous!!
Camera Mart is FREE!