How to avoid online scams
Whether you are buying or selling on Horsemart, please always remain alert and avoid any deal or offer that looks suspicious. Here at Horsemart, we strive to prevent scammers operating on our site. However, we cannot be held responsible for the accuracy or legitimacy of any ad, or the validity of any buyer.
We do not tolerate scammers and if we are told that a scammer is using the site we will instantly revoke their access to it. We have a number of automated tools that identifies and removes scammers and stops them re-registering.
If you believe you have been contacted by a scammer, please report it to us by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although new scams are being devised all the time and we can’t cover everything, we’ve put together a list below of some common scams and what to do if you believe you are being targeted.
Types of scam
Steer clear of requests to use money transfer services. This includes sites like Western Union or MoneyGram. Any cash transferred using these services will be made available immediately to the recipient. You may also hear of scammers asking you to prove you have funds by showing them a receipt of a transfer you have made to someone you know. This receipt will contain a tracking number, which is all scammers need to collect your money. Any request to use money transfer services should be treated with extreme caution. Many scams rely on the instant access to cash that these services provide. At the end of the day, these services are not designed to be used by strangers and should not be used to pay for any items sold on classified advertising sites.
Do not give out any of your personal information. This includes bank and credit card details, as well as logins and passwords. Horsemart does not send out emails asking you to send us your personal details, such as bank details. So even if you do get an email pretending to be from us asking for this information, don’t follow any of the links or provide your details to the sender.
Do not accept cheques that are an overpayment. Some scammers may send you a cheque for more than the agreed price as a ‘mistake’ (for example, ‘accidentally’ adding an extra nought on the end, or putting the decimal point in the wrong place). They will then be asked for the surplus money to be returned. The cheque will clear, only to be refused a few weeks later. This means you will be out of pocket by the total amount that the cheque was for, and without the item you’ve sold.
Do not agree to arrange and pay a shipping agent yourself. Similar to the above, some scammers will suggest they pay you for shipping, plus for the item for sale itself, and then ask you to arrange shipping through an agent they stipulate. This third party shipping agent will also be involved in the scam. Again, the cheque will clear but then be refused weeks later, leaving you out of pocket.
Be wary of overseas buyers. If someone overseas responds to your advert and wants you to ship the item abroad, without even having seen the item, alarm bells should start ringing. You may find that scammers use any of the above tactics to get their hands on your money, or use other methods such as a ‘hard-luck’ story regarding a family member and ask you to return cash for the purchase. Again, their cheque will clear and then eventually be refused, and you will have lost the money you ‘returned’ to the scammer.
Top tips for avoiding scams
- Steer clear of money transfer services. Services like Western Union and MoneyGram make cash instantly available and should not be used at any point during a transaction between strangers.
- If someone calls you up asking for your bank or credit card details, be suspicious and don’t give them these details.
- If someone responds to a classified advertisement you have placed and wants you to ship the item abroad, without even having seen the item, be wary.
- If they offer to pay you the amount of the item, plus the shipping costs, and ask you to arrange the shipping and pay the shipping agent yourself, be suspicious.
- Be wary of overseas buyers. Horsemart is a UK-based classified site and we recommend you be cautious when dealing with anyone based outside the UK.
- Do not be reassured if you receive a cheque or a banker's draft and your bank clears it as soon as you pay it into your account. It may still be a forgery, and if so, you will lose out.
- Finally, if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is!
What to do if you’ve been scammed
If you believe you have been a victim of a scam or fraud you need to report the incident to the police as soon as possible. Unfortunately, Horsemart cannot intercede on your behalf as the transaction is between a buyer and the seller, whether either party is a scammer or not.