Buyers & Sellers Beware: Online marketplaces make unregulated spaces feel safe

Written by Jeanann Grubbs
Last Updated: 11/28/2019
Buyers & Sellers Beware: Online marketplaces make unregulated spaces feel safe

How To Avoid Being Scammed In The Online Marketplace

There are so many quick ways to make money nowadays. Before high-tech marketplace apps and websites like Craigslist, Offer Up, Poshmark, The Real Real, and Facebook MarketPlace were around, people were only using garage sales to make some extra cash on goods they no longer needed. But, garage sales are so much work. To have a garage sale, you have to advertise with posters, paints, and sharpies, taking up time and effort. After that, you walk around town and place the signs up, then wake up early, have everything placed outside and sit in your driveway hoping people will show up so you can make a few extra bucks.

Nowadays, people have the luxury of staying in their homes and selling their goods to people without ever stepping outside. Poshmark, for example, makes it easy to buy and sell clothes. You create an online profile, and viola, you can start trading and selling. You can either sell locally or worldwide, entirely your choice.

OfferUp is also a great app to use when selling items you no longer want. You can sell just about anything on this app. I've used OfferUp to sell a motorcycle, a turtle tank, a bike, gardening pots, and more. All of my items sold within a day, no matter the price or the condition. You can provide a profile picture on this app that can be your actual face or an avatar.

Once someone likes your item, they can directly message you, asking if it is still available. From there, the potential buyer can bargain with you (tips on bargaining). I have had a couple of experiences where some people actually offered a higher price than I asked. I first found this strange, but I later realized that buyers do that as a way to ensure they go to the front of the line and get the item. Accounts on these online marketplace apps can also be verified by how many purchases they have completed, how many sales they have performed, and how fast and friendly they are.

However, here is the big “BUT” - you won't always get verified users asking to purchase your items and meeting an unverified user in person can be a bit frightening.

Unfortunately, online scams are on the rise. People are victimized by online scammers for a number of reasons (Button, Nicholls, Kerr, & Owen, 2014) and scammers take advantage of people’s good nature - the fact that most of us look for and expect the best in others. This increased trust in strangers can sometimes place well intentioned sellers in harm's way. The truth is, trusting someone online that you have never met can be risky. Be smart, especially when there is money involved.

Another reason why scams happen often is that the seller's mind may be focused on the transaction - the cash reward - rather than the potential dangers of online selling (Button, Nicholls, Kerr, & Owen, 2014). That’s why it is critical not to feel rushed when selling an item and take the time to research the buyer.

I personally know someone who recently met a buyer for his bike online. They met at a coffee shop and everything seemed perfectly normal. The buyer asked to take the bike for a spin and never came back! The phone and address provided by the buyer turned out to be completely bogus - of course! As it turns out, there is a perfect solution to never let something like this happen to you.

The great news is that new people search platforms like GladiKnow allow you to quickly find all sorts of information on anyone in the U.S. Simply type in the buyer's first and last name and location into GladiKnow's advanced search engine and get the full picture on your buyer, BEFORE you allow them around yourself and your loved ones.

The advanced search engine will search over 600 million public records, both online and offline, including home address, criminal records, and much more. You can then see if there is a match between the information you know to be true with the information the buyer tells you is true.


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