The oldest scam in the book

I thought I would share an experience I had in the past day when I am almost certain a buyer tried to scam me. I placed a classified advert on bidorbuy for two jet skis I am selling (sold today). As an experiment I also placed the ad in various other classified publications.

I was quite pleased to see the first few responses come from my advert on bidorbuy. My advertised price was R90k and I fairly quickly received an offer of R85k from a legitimate buyer that went to see the skis. While considering this offer, I had some one call me (from one of the other publications I advertised in). This person said they were from Secunda and would definitely take the skis (sight unseen). I told him I already had an offer for R85k. He said no problem he would pay R88k. Although a little surprised that some one would make that kind of commitment without even seeing the skis our discussion proceeded.

He said he needed the skis urgently (i.e. today – a Friday as he was taking them to Namibia leaving on Saturday) and he would send his driver to fetch them today. I said no problem I would meet with his driver but he would need to pay the money into my bank account before I would let them go. His response was he would send a bank guaranteed cheque with his driver.

I insisted that he rather do an EFT into my bank account. He asked who I bank with to which I responded Nedbank. He said he banked with Absa and FNB. Understanding that if you do a transfer from the same bank to the same bank the amount reflects immediately, I said he could make payment into my ABSA account. He replied saying today he is only banking with FNB. Fortunately I have access to a number of bank accounts so I said in that case he could pay into my FNB account. After a bit of an argument about why I would not accept a bank guaranteed cheque he said he would call me back in half an hour. Of course I never heard from him again.

Laying out the facts like I have above makes it a bit more obvious that I was most likely dealing with a fraudster but I can see how people can get caught out. Typically what fraudsters do operating in this manner is they would fabricate a fake (but virtually undetectable to the average person) bank guaranteed cheque (easily enough done now days with a computer and a colour laser printer). They will then get delayed for some seemingly legitimate reason arriving to pick up the goods after the banks have closed (note that some banks you can call to verify cheques up until 5pm even after their branches have closed). They are generally very convincing so the seller may allow the fraudster to leave with the goods with the unsuspecting seller only finding out much later that they have been duped by a fake cheque.

Analysing the situation afterwards the classic warning signs were:

  1. Insisting to pay by “bank guaranteed” cheque.
  2. Being in a hurry.
  3. Sending a driver
  4. Agreeing to make a large purchase sight unseen

As a seller the safest way to accept payment is by EFT i.e. seeing the money reflect on your bank statement before delivering the goods to the buyer. The one thing to look out for is if the payer deposits a cheque (a bad cheque). It will show up on your statement but the current and available balance will be different by the amount of the cheque until it has cleared. Only ship the goods once the amount has cleared (what are people doing still paying by cheque these days anyway).


  1. I had a real scam. Advertised a diningroom suite and the buyer said he would deposit cash into my account. He faxed a copy of the deposit slip, complete with nedbank teller stamp and a copy of the nedbank receipt looked at my account and saw the amount was there. He took the goods. Next day the amount paid was reversed as an RD cheque. On investigation we found that they had forged the receipts using nedbank equipment.

    Really Scammed

  2. Sorry to hear about that Rob. It always makes one feel sick to hear of such things. This is the classic spam that you metnioned and very easy to get caught out on. I am however sure in such a case if you looked closely at your bank statement you would have seen that the current balance and available balance was different. Also, I see now Nedbank place link to the deposit slip on your Internet banking statement from whihc you can se if it was a cheque. It is so easy to forge a “proof of payment”.

  3. I had something very similar happen to me as well. This guy called me stating he was interested in buying my laptop. I gave him my account details & being with FNB a few minutes later I received an sms informing me of R5500 paid into my account. I had the item almost packed up and ready for dispatch but decided to go online just make sure & noticed that the R5500 was not available yet. Cancelled everything & a week later got a notification from the bank that the cheque bounced. So watch out for the ‘sms’ angle if you bank with FNB. Not accepting cheques under any circumstances is 1 thing but giving out your bank details to just anyone is also something to consider as a rd cheque will cost you about R150 in bank charges. I think the banks should take blame as well!

  4. Hi, didnt someone had bulldog puppies on bob sometime ago and there was some scaming around that deal? I recall someone mentioning we should watch out as these people do frauty deals?
    I am trying to buy some teacup yorkies from a lady who placed an add in the Gumtree jhb edition. Now all of a sudden she is from the cameroon, and for only R2500 I can have them airtransported to SA all incl.
    I dont know, something just dont fit.

  5. Hi, I had the same scam as Kolz, also did not fall for it – and when the cheque bounced, gave all the contact details to the police department that deals with cheque fraud. They informed me that they had caught three of the guys the day before (which was probably why my fraudster had gone quiet) Good! These guys are awful – and just because we were not scammed doesn’t mean some more trusting person wasn’t. Cheques just don’t work in a society rife with criminals 🙁

  6. Hi…I Googled for buy bank, but found your page about The oldest scam in the book…and have to say thanks. nice read.

  7. So far so good, that did not happened to me.I can see there are plenty tricks in the books.Always check your account at the bank.Dont accept that people paid the item.Get internet banking fasillities and make sure its cleared at your bank.DONT ACCEPT CHEQUES anymore .I dont use a chequebook for more than 5 years.After 7-10days it bounce in any way.Big suprise are awaits you.