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Help Using - Avoiding Scams and Fraud

You can sidestep would-be scammers by following these common-sense rules:

DEAL LOCALLY WITH FOLKS YOU CAN MEET IN PERSON - follow this one simple rule and you will avoid 99% of the scam attempts on

NEVER WIRE FUNDS VIA WESTERN UNION, MONEYGRAM, or any other wire service - anyone who asks you to do so is a scammer.

FAKE CASHIER CHECKS & MONEY ORDERS ARE COMMON, and BANKS WILL CASH THEM AND THEN HOLD YOU RESPONSIBLE when the fake is discovered weeks later. IS NOT INVOLVED IN ANY TRANSACTION, and does not handle payments, guarantee transactions, provide escrow services, or offer "buyer protection" or "seller certification."

NEVER GIVE OUT FINANCIAL INFORMATION (bank account number, social security number, eBay/PayPal info, etc.)



Who should I notify about fraud or scam attempts?
FTC toll free hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357)
FTC online complaint form (
Canadian PhoneBusters hotline: 888-495-8501
Internet Fraud Complaint Center (
Non-emergency number for your local police department.
If you suspect that an item posted for sale on may be part of a scam, please email the details to
"". Be sure to include the URL (or the post ID) in your message.



Recognizing scams
Most scams involve one or more of the following:

*inquiry from someone far away, often in another country
*Western Union, Money Gram, cashier's check, money order, shipping, escrow service, or a "guarantee"

Examples of Scams

1. Someone claims that will guarantee a transaction, certify a buyer/seller, OR claims that will handle or provide protection for a payment.
*These claims are fraudulent, as does not have any role in any transaction.
*Scammer will often send an official looking email that appears to come from, offering a guarantee, certifying a seller, providing payment services -- all such emails are fakes!

2. Someone requests wire service payment via Western Union or MoneyGram:
*Often claim that an MTCN or confirmation code is needed before he can withdraw your money - this is FALSE, once you've wired money, it is GONE.
*Scam "bait" items include tickets - but could be almost anything
*common countries currently include: Nigeria, Romania, Ukraine, Spain, UK, Italy, Netherlands - but could be anywhere deal often seems too good to be true

3. distant person offers to send you a money order and then have you wire money:
*this is ALWAYS a scam, in our experience - the cashier's check is FAKE
*sometimes accompanies an offer of merchandise, sometimes not
*scammer often asks for your name, address, etc for printing on the fake check
*deal often seems too good to be true

4. distant seller suggests use of an online escrow service.
*most online escrow sites are FRAUDULENT, operated by scammers
*for more info, do a google search on "fake escrow" or "escrow fraud"

Other Resources
U.S. Postal Service warning scambusters