How to Avoid Being Scammed

 The infamous scammer from one of the islands southeast of Florida surfaced again on the Show & Sell pages last week. He almost got away with his game. This person posts very desirable dolls and very fair prices which is, in itself, a giveaway. There are always those who will jump on great deals even when they scream "too good to be true." Luckily the gal who sent him money was warned - almost too late - and got a refund from Paypal. Whew! Close one. I'm sure he's not finished. Neither are the others. They're out there. They change names, lie about references and keep coming back!

If you are the buyer:
1. Ask for at least 3 recent, checkable references and then contact the references and ask them for information about the transaction to make sure that the seller isn't making it all up.

2. If the seller won't answer you or gets pissy, RUN and tell the rest of us what happened.

3. Ask the seller to take a picture (or pictures) of the item with a piece of paper that has his/her name printed clearly with the date. Scammers will not hesitate to sell stuff they don't have and will also steal pictures of merchandise that doesn't belong to them. (They do that even when they have the stuff to sell because they are too lazy to take their own photos.)

4. Do not pay with a money order, cash, personal check or non-credit Paypal unless you are absolutely positive you know with whom you are dealing. You have no recourse at all if the transaction goes wrong when paying thus.

5. Post questions asking for references on the doll boards. Contact those who respond. 

6. If the seller balks at any question, that is your red flag. If the transaction makes you uncomfortable, you can live without the doll and you can certainly live without losing your money.

If you are the seller you can be scammed, too, if you're not careful.
1. Insure everything you ship if you don't know the buyer well.

2. It's not a bad idea to get eBay references for buyers. Look at the feedback they leave. Some are never happy with anything.

3. Don't ship overseas without tracking and insurance unless you know the buyer and they are willing to pay you via the Personal tab on Paypal. (I do not endorse this method as it is illegal to circumvent Paypal fees. That's my public opinion.)

4. Do not accept any type of payment that makes you uncomfortable.

5. If you list Buy it Now items, make sure you require immediate payment. Otherwise, those without money to pay will just be stopping your auction by bidding.

6. NEVER ship before you have cash in hand.

7. If you are asked to ship to an address other than that of the person paying, you may be scammed. They finagle getting dolls by having sellers send a doll to someone who sends them money and then they claim they didn't get the doll and on and on. An exception to this is if you won't ship overseas and the buyer asks you to ship to their shipping buddy. Get that person's email address and confirm in writing who they are and what they intend to do. You have to hope they are not in cahoots. You can avoid this by learning how to ship overseas.

If you can think of anything to add to this list, feel free to post it in the comments section. I will put this post in the sidebar in a few days for reference in the future.


  1. I thought you would post something about this. Call me psychic. ;) I've been dealing online for many years and in my many years I have only been taken once. On Etsy of all places. My own fault for being too comfortable on Etsy I guess. And low impulse control. Whenever I am going to embark on a non-Ebay/Etsy transaction I link the person to my feedback on both Ebay and Etsy.

    It's a shame that there are so many dishonest people out there. I'm glad the person in this story got their money back. I missed the refund deadline when I got ripped off (it was supposed to be a hand made item so it takes longer of course - they had actually stolen photos from Clear-Lan and passed them off as their own). The upside to my story is that I then found Clear-Lan. And thankfully it was only $35 I lost and not a couple hundred.

    In any case, I hope people see this and take caution. There are TONS of honest sellers out there and I don't think anyone needs to be afraid of dealing online. Just careful.

  2. If you are a seller, how would insurance protect you from a scammer?


  3. @marc: If I ship something and the buyer claims they didn't get it, it got lost, it got bashed there is tracking and coverage on insured items.
    Is that really what you wanted to know?

  4. @Jen: I have complete 100's (probably more like a few thousand) transactions on the Show and Sell pages, on the doll boards, on eBay and elsewhere and the only person who scammed me was a Brit who decided that she didn't want to pick up her purchase at Customs and so the pkg was returned to me. It cost me paypal fees and shipping fees and the beotch taught me a good lesson. Thankfully it wasn't a costly lesson. I came close to being scammed by the Canadian gal on S&S last year. I bought a doll cheaply from her. That went well. Then she sent me a Paypal echeck for an item and I was waiting for notification that it arrived. Days later, it showed up that she cancelled the check but she was asking for the item. She turned out to be the infamous Canadian scammer. I got lucky again.

  5. Good article, Terri.

    It's important to add that when you get references, make sure that they are references of people that you know or have done business with before. When I was scammed 2 years ago by the Puerto Rican scammer, I had posted on Doll Divas for references for this person. I got one response. I did not know that person. (It was probably the scammer posting with another name.) There were so many red flags and my instincts were screaming even when I was waiting in line at the post office mailing my doll. I should have trusted my instincts. It was a sick feeling being robbed. I've done thousands of transactions and this was one out of a handful of bad transactions, and was the worst. I was one of 12 people that I know that got scammed by this person. Sad.

  6. Well done Terri! Thank you for this.

  7. Extremely helpful! Thank you!

  8. Wonderfull post Terri. Every now and then you should bring it up somehow, it is never too much to remember these things. 2 days ago all my flags went mad when I saw some beautifull dolls at fair prices at the The Doll Page... I immediatly contacted someone I knew was looking for a particular doll and advised them not to forget to ask for references and check them, before sending any money... It worked. *phewwww* I'll never forget when I was scammed... if it weren't for the help of a dear collector that tirelessly contacted Paypal several times in my behalf, to make sure everything that was possible was beeing done, I wouldn't have got my $$ back...

  9. Very well written article, Terri. It should be required reading for people doing business online OR offline.

  10. Thank you Terri for these helpful tips.

    I have just started selling and you are right about overseas shipment without tracking or insurance. Not very wise. We'll take that into account.

  11. Hi! I mailed a doll to a Brazilian collector through ebay. I had never sent anything internationally before and I didn't insure it. I just sent it first class. Now, the buyer said they didn't get it (maybe she didn't--she has lots of pos. on ebay). I'm sick about it b/c my paypal account is docked now and I'm responding to the case through ebay. The buyer did not request insurance or tracking. I obviously don't want to cheat anyone. My lesson is learned. However, does anyone have advice for me? This item is over 40 days old.

  12. Terri - I have read plenty about her on BJD related boards.

    I think the person that scammed me on Etsy is someone who has a history of scamming on sites too. Had I trusted my gut sooner I could have gotten a refund but I kept waiting, giving the benefit of the doubt and then it was too late.

    I'm in Canada and have dealt with people in the US, Canada, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Australia, England, Spain, Israel, Hungary... So many places. The particular scammer who got me was in Korea, I believe, but that's the only trouble I've ever had.

    I can only hope karma comes around for these people. My advice, adding to Teri's is to trust your gut! When things start to seem fishy to you don't ignore it!

  13. Dear Don, there is a postal strike in Brazil right now. I mailed something to a dolly friend down there that has had a few items mia for over 40 days [could even be same person as I know she is expecting dolls too]. You need to check your options before shipping anything out of the country! I sell on Etsy and Ebay and don't do international. First if selling, regardless of price, always do delivery confirmation and I swear by paypal combined they are great paper trails to enable you to get your money [and back] as well as property if need be. Insure, it covers if lost in mail. If on ebay with an expensive doll as soon as they win the bid go to community then get all of their info and call them after they have paid. Be sweet and concerned over some trivial excuse about shipping or blah blah blah more so if it is suppose to be shipping ot another person call both of them!

  14. Great informtion. I just want to add that you shouldn't let fear keep you from running your business. I used to sell on Ebay years ago. I now sell on Etsy. I didn't start off shipping international, but after reading many testimonies about how 50# of people's business was international, I immediately researched what I needed to know and starting selling international. As soon as I did, I had my quickest sell ever (less than 5 hrs). I haven't looked back since. So do your research, protect yourself, but don't let fear run your business.

  15. Thank you for this article. It recently stopped me from clicking impulsively on an EBay Buy It Now offer that looked too good to be true.