So I was recently scammed on OfferUp, and figured I'd share my learnings in case it might be able to help someone in the future. The scammer was a professional, and did a good job of hiding the red flags, which became more and more obvious as time passed. The item was for a collectible lot, which would be shipped.
Red flags: 1. Refusal to use OfferUp or PayPal for payment.
This is the biggest and should have been the most obvious flag immediately. Venmo, Cashapp, and Google Pay do not offer buyer protection like PayPal and OfferUp do. With buyer protection, you have the ability to cancel a payment, or get an automatic refund within a few days of a purchase. This is a great way to give yourself security through an online transaction. Users who refuse to do business through a secure medium like this understand that you can't get your money back once you send it. NEVER send money without buyer protection unless you have the item in hand.
- Price was too good to be true
Oldest lesson in the book. Sure, sometimes you'll find a great deal on some of these sites, but most likely - if the value is too good to be true, it probably is. If you do want to proceed, don't do business until you have the item in hand or use a secure buying method.
- Phone number belonged to a completely different person.
The person provided a phone number which I could use to send the money. After realizing the transaction was a sham, I did a reverse lookup on the number. It belonged to a 54 year old man, though the seller was posing as a young woman. I know these lookups aren't always reliable, but it was another flag I could have seen earlier.
- Refusal to mark the item as sold.
The seller was likely pulling the same trick on several different people at the same time. If the item is truly yours, they'll be happy to take the listing down.
Ways in which this account seemed legitimate:
- Made the encounter personal
I agreed with the seller to do half up front and half upon delivery. The seller said "okay but please promise me you'll send the other half when you get it." This appeal to my sympathetic side was a strong tactic, and I let me guard down. They never had any intention of shipping the item.
- Had multiple followers and sales completed on offerup.
I don't know if this was part of a long con ( I wasn't scammed for very much money) but the user had over 100 followers, over 100 listings, and several positive reviews on OfferUp. The account was even created in the middle of last year. This made me feel more confident in buying from them. I'm still not sure if they've been conning people that long or just decided to go out with a bang, but either way - past reputation does not guarantee future trustworthiness.
- Posed as a non-theating persona.
The communication language the scammer used seemed extremely genuine and trustworthy. I think I have this idea that scammers are big bad boogeymen and the picture this scammer painted of themselves was much more trustworthy. Don't believe who you're talking to is who they say they are.
All in all, it was a good lesson for me, and while I didn't lose an arm and a leg, it's still frustrating. I think the idea of being taken advantage of is more taxing the financial loss. Hopefully this helps some people. Stay alert, stay vigilent.