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Motorcycle Scams 2
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If you are you selling your motorcycle on eBay or cycletrader or elsewhere, you've probably gotten some emails from buyers in other countries.
We've seen strong interest lately buying motorcycles in the USA and then shipping them overseas to Australia, Germany, Poland, France, UK (England), Ireland, South Africa, and
Indonesia, to name a few. Why? Because in Poland for example, motorcycles are real expensive and are a hot commodity. We're talking Harleys and especially sportbikes (R1, R6, GSXR750, CBR929RR, etc.).
We can ship a motorcycle over there for
between $900 to maybe $1900 depending on where it's going to and where it's coming from in the US. Motorcycles are $2000 to over $8000 more expensive outside the USA, so it makes sense to buy used motorcycles and ship them over.
One of our customer wrote in an email "I tell you there is plenty of opportunity here in Dubai for second hand Harleys...serious money could be made." So understand that there could be some very legitimate offers on your
motorcycle that come from other countries.
It could also be an international motorcycle scam. Here's what to look for.
The two places that we see most often trying to scam people out of big ticket (items like motorcyles, cars, trucks, SUV's, boats, horses, furniture, etc.) are Africa and Indonesia. Whenever we give a quote to move something there we immediately suspect a scam.
We'd like someone to prove us wrong on this one, but we don't think there are any honest deals coming out of these two places. There are honest people there of course, but the honest people are not the ones that are trying to
buy big the ticket items. We know of several overseas shipping companies that won't ship anything to Africa or Indonesia because of the extremely high
number of scams going there. When we say Africa we are talking about the countries of Nigeria, Niger, Benin, Ghana, Togo, Liberia, Gabon or any others in that part of Africa.
South Africa is different and hasn't been a problem. Since Fall 2004 we haven't been hearing much about Africa or Indonesia. The information on this page applies to any overseas deals.
They usually sound very interested and sincere. Lots of emails. Proof of bank references. A solid and respectible person. But wait, let's see how they pay you. It's one of two ways, either in cashiers check or credit cards.
So far so good you think. You get the payment and deposit it in your bank. Everything looks good. Your bank says it's good. No problem. It "clears" the bank in 24 hrs and the funds are "available" for withdrawl the next day. Then two weeks or even three weeks later everything falls apart.
The bank calls you and says the
cashiers check was fake or the credit cards were stolen. It takes about 1 - 2 weeks for the banks to sort it out. Then your bank has no choice but to chargeback your account in full. Oops. Sorry. By then you've already shipped the motorcycle. Too late. You got scammed.
The photo below shows a fake cashiers check. Looks real, doesn't it? (By the way, fake cashiers checks from US banks are discovered in about 1 week. Overseas fake cashiers checks take about 2 weeks.)
Now lets talk about Africa, the continent famous for the Nigerian Advance Fee Scam (also known as the Nigerian 419 Scam). This scam most likely comes from someone in Africa, but it could be from anywere. Here's how it works. A guy emails you and says he's interested in your motorcycle, car, truck, SUV, horse, furniture, or other big
ticket item you are selling. Let's say you are selling a motorcycle for $5500.00. Okay, they tell you they are very interested. They want to buy it NOW. They are in Africa, but they have a client in the USA who owes them
$7950.00. They tell you they'd like to have their client pay you the $7950.00, and as soon as the check clears you can send them your motorcycle and the difference of $2450.00. They know you are an honest man and trust that you will act quickly to finalize this transaction.
The email will say something like: "The reason why I am doing this is because it would take at
least 30 days for a check sent from over here to clear, whereas it would take only between three to four days for a check sent within the United States to clear. And this is the fastest way for me to send money to you now." So they send you a check like
the one shown above, it "clears" the bank in 24 hrs, you send your motorcycle and $2450.00, and two to three weeks later you are in for quite a shock. Don't even deal with anyone that wants to send you more money than your item is worth
and asks you to send them the difference. This is not a legitimate way to do business. It's a scam.
The newest version of the Advance Fee Scam is to pay you extra money for "shipping charges". You are supposed to forward this extra money to the "shipping company". Here is an actual quote from one of these scam emails:
"I want you to be aware that I will be paying you with a cheque and that I will be adding money on the cheque which will be used for the shipping and clearing of the car at the port and some other important things needed to be done therein." Don't accept any extra money that you are supposed to
send to someone else. Just accept payment for whatever you are selling and no more.
How can you prevent yourself from getting scammed? Easy, just wait at least 3 weeks after receiving your money for overseas transactions. Tell your buyer you are going to wait three weeks after receiving his money to be sure everything is okay, and then you'll ship the bike. Legitimate buyers understand.
Scammers won't. Even if the bank says it's okay and the
funds are good, wait anyway. You have to be sure that there really is no problem. Treat credit cards and cashiers
checks like you just received a personal check. The problem with overseas credit cards is that you can't verify the cardholders address. If it's stolen, you won't find out until the real cardholder complains to his bank. That could be a month or more later.
Overseas credit cards are the highest risk.
The best way to receive payment is to get a wire transfer.
Wire transfers are very secure. This is your preferred payment option for overseas transactions. Get them to wire the funds into your account, wait about 3 days just to make sure, and it's a done deal. Scammers don't wire funds. They would much rather use a cashiers check, a business check, or a credit card.
Here are a couple of other options for buying & selling motorcycles within the USA. First of all you might think about an escrow service. One of our customers told us about www.Escrow.com. He bought a motorcycle from someone on eBay, and Escrow.com made
it easy to have a secure transaction for both the buyer and seller. Escrow.com is the only escrow site recommended by eBay. Here's how it works: the buyer pays the escrow service the payment of the motorcycle, and they hold the payment until it's loaded onto the truck. The payment is sent to the seller prior to delivery.
We notify Escrow.com when we pickup and deliver the motorcycle. It costs about $100.00 for this service. They are not affiliated with MoverQuest in any way.
I would be cautious of someone who will only do the deal by using a specific escrow company other than a well-known escrow company like Escrow.com. For example, I got an email asking me what I thought about InTT Comp (http://www.inttcomp.com/). As of August 2005 the domain name was only 8 months old.
No information about the company anywhere on the internet. No Google pagerank (from the free Google toolbar).
No backlinks to the site (by checking the Google toolbar). It 's a new company. Could be legitimate. Maybe not. Hard to tell, but I wouldn't take the risk. No way. First of all, this deal was too good to be true, and you had to use this escrow company only. Oh and by the way, the motorcycle is in England. You have to arrange for shipping.
This bike was priced so low that even with overseas shipping charges added in, this bike still would have cost thousands of dollars less than a bike in the US. It doesn't make sense why someone would sell a bike this cheap. Too many red flags. I wouldn't take a chance on a deal like that. It's a great deal that will never happen.
UPDATE: Nov 2005 this company was listed as an escrow fraud and the site is shut down. Go to http://escrow-fraud.pgardner.net/?page=reported to see the current list of fraud escrow companies.
MoverQuest Check Transfer Service
The other option is to send us the cashiers check for the motorcycle (made payable to the seller, not MoverQuest). We do not deposit the check. We simply give the cashiers check to the seller when we pick up the motorcycle. Our fees for this service are $8.00 per $1000.00 of value, or fraction of $1000.00.
The minimum charge is $56.00 (for $7k and under). For example, it would cost $120.00 for a motorcycle purchase of $14,001.00 up to $15,000.00. Let us know if you are interested in this service, and we'll tell you the address of the closest office to send the check to. This service is available for most cities in the US.
By the way, we haven't seen fake cashiers checks for US transactions, only for overseas deals. I don't want to give the impression that most motorcycle deals are scams. They're not. Just be careful with the overseas transactions, that's all.
Another Scam In The US
Let's say you are looking to buy a motorcycle. The seller (them) offers to send the buyer (you) the motorcycle for a deposit only. "Try it for 5 days, and if you don't like it, just send it back. If you like it,
pay me the balance due." Is this really such a great deal? Now, think about this for a moment, if you were selling a motorcycle, would you send it to someone you didn't know for just a deposit, and wait another week for final payment while the buyer is riding it trying to decide if he wants it or not? Of course not. Too good to be true.
Once the seller has your deposit, you don't get the motorcycle and you never hear from them again. We've gotten two calls mid Oct 2004 from scammed customers. Turns out that someone in Chicago named Martin E Lake is allegedly doing such a scam, and claiming that he shipped them through us.
In conclusion, not every deal is a scam, and not all buyers/sellers are scammers. Most are not by a long shot, but you could get an email from someone who is (not will get, but could get). If you do, no problem. Just remember the advice on this page and don't get scammed. It's easy. And if the deal is good and you need a shipping quote,
contact us, or send your buyer to us for a quote. In fact, you can send all your potential buyers to us for a motorcycle shipping quote. We'll collect the moving charges from them so you don't have to be involved in setting up the transportation services. Just have them call us.