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Spotting a fraudulent buyer

We want our members to be able to buy and sell catering equipment safely and easily online, which is why we set up the NCASS Classifieds page on our website. Most sales go through without a hitch, and buyers and sellers alike are happy with the service. However, we’ve had a number of buyer scams brought to our attention over the years, and want to make sure no one else is at risk of falling for them. Here’s a couple of things to look out for when talking to a prospective buyer:

  1. Are there a large number of spelling and grammar mistakes in their emails or text messages?

  2. Have they given excuses as to why they cannot view the item in person? They may ‘travel a lot for work’ or claim to have an ‘associate’ or ‘partner’ who will collect the item.

  3. Have they used emotional persuasion, such as mentioning a family member who desperately needs the item, to try to encourage a quick sale?

  4. Are they requesting your home address, despite not being able to view the item personally?

  5. Have they requested your bank or card details in order to purchase the item?

  6. Do they refuse to talk via a telephone call?

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One typical buyer scam involves the scammer offering to send you a cheque for the item. This cheque is for more money than the asking price of the item, but the scammer claims that this is a ‘transportation’ cost. They then ask you to reimburse this excess amount via bank transfer. You reimburse this money, but the cheque bounces, and you’ve lost the ‘excess’ money, and potentially the item too, if you’ve already handed it over.


Be vigilant! Sellers on our page are understandably keen to make a quick sale for the price they’re asking for, but don’t rush into a sale if something doesn’t feel right. Most importantly, don’t send the item to the buyer until the money has reached your bank account.


If in doubt, double-check the buyer’s details. Google the email address or phone number of the buyer to see if it has already been listed as a known scammer’s address or number elsewhere online. Chances are, you won’t be the first to have been targeted by this person!


Even if you aren’t completely certain, if it seems wrong, it most likely is! Report it to NCASS and do not respond to the ‘buyer’. Remember, you can always get in touch with us for any support or guidance you may need.