15 November 2014
We discovered a scam this week that was quite elaborate and could easily have people fooled and robbed of significant sums of money. We search bike selling sites like ebay and gum tree and other classifieds quite a lot and scams go on all the time. Usually they are quite obvious because they are asking for money before you get the bike and the seller is supposedly based somewhere obscure, with added embellishments such as a deceased relative who owned the bike. They are often copying genuine adverts from elsewhere and reducing the price to attract interest.
This one was a listing on bike soup >>>>>>. When you enquire about the bike the seller transpires to be in Germany and you can either come see the bike or you can pay using a service offered by efiliale an arm of Deutsche Post. He sends over official flyers from Deutsche Post that look genuine. The service offered allows you to pay efiliale who hold the funds until you receive the goods and are happy with them. He then books in the delivery and you receive official looking documentation from an efiliale email address with wire instructions that have a Deutsche Post account details on them. The account is geniunely at Deutsche Post Bank AG but it is not an efiliale account. Banks don't check account names, only numbers. So you think you are paying to an intermediary account but you are not, it's an individuals account, the money get's taken out straight away and the bike never shows up.
They have a fake helpdesk number set up which is on the documentation, it goes to answer phone as 'all lines are busy' but again sounds genuine. Also the interaction with the seller over email is quite convincing. Although the price is lower than market it's not too low to seem obvious, like the stolen ones you see on Gum Tree.
Searching through google into consumer archives it seems this scam is used elsewhere. So maybe it's a well known one that we just weren't aware of but I'm sure there are lots who don't know it so please spread the word. We've seen it before where people get really excited about their dream bike at a great price and miss what seem like obvious signs in hindsight.