Many websites which sell expensive items, such as pianos, automobiles, boats, jewelry, etc. are now being targeted by very creative scam artists who wish to steal your money. In this space, we will continue to inform you about these scams so that you will not become their next victim.
Most transactions conducted on PianoMart.com are legitimate and trouble-free. To ensure a risk-free transaction, we strongly recommend the use of our FREE PianoMart.com Escrow Service, the safest way to buy or sell a piano on the Internet.
If you receive a suspicious-sounding offer, please forward it to us at Info@PianoMart.com
One of the most common scams found all over the Internet is a classic scam which involves the use of forged Cashier’s Checks. The scammer will offer to buy your piano via a cashier’s check, and will even pay you several thousand dollars more than your asking price. This extra money they will say, is for the “shipping expense”. After you deduct your payment for the piano, you will then be asked to wire-transfer the over-payment to the “shipping agent” to pay for the pick-up and delivery of the piano. This all sounds very logical, but of course, there is no “shipping agent” because the scammer has no intention of ever picking up your piano. By the time the bank discovers that the Cashier’s Check is forged, the scammer will have your money which he instructs you to wire-transfer immediately after you receive the bogus Cashier’s Check. Wire transfers are immediate and irreversable. This scam is effective because for years, it was believed that a cashier’s check is safe, as good as cash. Sadly, this is not the case anymore. If someone offers to pay you several thousand dollars more for your piano than your asking price and then asks you to wire-transfer the over-payment to them or their shipping agent – BEWARE!
The Internet can be a safe place to do business if you follow certain precautions:
- Do not assume that a Cashier’s Check is as good as cash. Ask your banker to call the bank that the check is drawn on to verify its authenticity, then wait for the check to clear before you release the piano.
- Tell your prospective buyers that you will only accept payment in the exact amount of the purchase price. Accept no overpayments that you will be required to wire back to them. A legitimate buyer will not have a problem with this.
- If you are suspicious of a buyer, insist on using the free PianoMart.com Escrow Service. A legitimate buyer will not object.
- Use caution when dealing with buyers from outside the United States. Ask them why they would pay several thousand dollars in additional shipping expense to purchasing a piano from the US? It makes no sense, especially since used pianos are plentiful in other parts of the world.
- Get as much information about the buyer as possible, including their phone number. It’s worth the expense of a long-distance phone call to speak to your prospective buyer. A legitimate buyer will not have a problem giving you their phone number. A scammer will ignore this request.
- Become concerned if the buyer is most interested in payment arrangements, but expresses little or no interest in the condition of the piano.
If you receive emails from scammers attempting to “buy” your piano, or if you receive fradulent cashier’s checks, please follow these steps:
- save all email correspondence and bogus checks from the scammers. Forward to us their emails so that we can add them to our list of scammers
- report the incident to the Internet Crimes Division of the FBI. (go to fbi.gov to find your nearest office)
- DO NOT deposit the check or attempt to cash it. Bring the check to your local FBI office or Police Dept. Tell them that you suspect that the check is fraudulent and ask them to verify its authenticity.
Another scam that we have seen on PianoMart.com is one that involves the use of fake ads. The scammer will copy an existing ad directly from another website. He will remove the real contact information, insert his own email address and represent himself as the owner. Sometimes these scams are easy to spot because the scammer will ask an incredibly low price for a very high quality piano. This insures that their ads will attract alot of attention and interest. The scammer will attempt to convince you to pay, in advance, part of the purchase price or the shipping fee and then will allow you to pay the balance when the piano is delivered to you. Sounds fair, right? Of course, since they don’t really own the piano, it will never arrive and you’ve lost your downpayment. To protect yourself from this scam, follow these precautions:
- if the asking price of the piano sounds too good to be true, BEWARE!
- tell the seller that you will need to send a piano technician to inspect the piano before you send any money. You can then hire a local piano technician to inspect and evaluate the piano for you. They can then confirm the existence of the piano and tell you what condition it is in.
- ask the seller to send you more photos of the piano. If they actually own the piano, this should not be a problem.
- insist on getting a phone number and call them and ask alot of questions about the piano. A legitimate piano seller will be happy to speak with you on the phone.
- use an escrow service to handle the transaction. The escrow service will hold the money until you receive the piano and only then will they release the money to the seller. The popularity of Internet shopping has given birth to many phony escrow services, so use caution when choosing an escrow service. To facilitate a safe and successful transaction, we now offer our own “in house” PianoMart.com Escrow Service at no additional charge.