View Full Version : Scam Alert Re: QTH.com classifieds

10-13-2012, 07:50 AM
This showed up in my email and I thought I'd pass it along for whatever you think it's worth. The scammers are probably using the same tactics on other sites as well.

Dear QTH.com Ham Radio Classifieds user:

We've seen an alarming increase in the number of scammers utilizing ham radio classified ads to scam hams. I wanted to take this opportunity to explain what some of these scammers are doing, in hopes it will better protect you from them, when you are selling equipment on the QTH.com Classifieds at http://swap.qth.com.

About 100,000 ads are placed each year in the QTH.com Classifieds, and only a tiny, tiny fraction wind up being fraudulent. I do not want to scare you into thinking that it is unsafe to trade online. Rather, I simply want to arm you with knowledge, so that you will be able to sniff out the bad guys, and stay safe.

Common scammer traits:

1) They will use some else's callsign, and they will create an email address that contains that callsign, usually with a free email provider like gmail, yahoo, ymail, hotmail, etc. Recently, they have even taken to breaking into ham's profiles at QRZ.com and changing the email address there, so that when you check to see if they match the ham's profile, they do!

2) They predominantly post "For Sale" ads, with prices that are a little too good to be true.

3) They will use pictures of equipment they have found on the Internet (they don't really own the equipment).

4) They seem to like payments via Western Union (no protection for the buyer), but will also use PayPal (hoping to drain their account before the buyer realizes they have been scammed).

5) They seem to know ham radio jargon. For all we know, these scammers are hams, but we can't be sure.

6) They are sophisticated enough to use "proxy servers" so their IP address cannot be easily detected. This makes it difficult for us to block the scammers. We are constantly tweaking our filters to block these guys when possible, but it is a constant cat and mouse game.

What can you do to protect yourself?

* Ask for a phone number and call the person before agreeing on any deal. This is probably the #1 way to expose the rats.

* Ask for a photo of the equipment WITH THEIR QSL CARD IN THE PICTURE. Unless they are very good at photo editing, you should be able confirm that they actually own the equipment this way.

* Check to see if the email address they used matches what is listed for that person on their QRZ.com profile. It could be a red flag if there is a mismatch. However, if it DOES MATCH, that is not a guarantee that the seller is not a scammer (again, we are seeing some of these scammers manage to edit QRZ.com profiles to get their bogus email listed)

* Be especially cautious of dealing with foreign hams. Not all foreign hams are scammers, of course! Just be extra careful!! Recently, the scammers have almost always been using US Callsigns though.

* Never use Western Union. Be very cautious of using Money Orders and Cashier's Checks. PayPal and Credit Cards seem to be the best option, as far as having any buyer protection. Money Orders & Cashier's Checks are perfectly acceptable if you are absolutely sure who you are dealing with.

* Read all of my "Safe Trading Tips" at http://chat.qth.com/viewtopic.php?t=12

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me directly at [email protected].

73 - Scott KA9FOX
QTH.com Ham Radio Classifieds