You have undoubtedly heard countless horror stories of people using sites like Kijiji to sell their wares – being mugged, buying fake or stolen items, and the like. All of which are risks that can be avoided with due diligence and precaution. Instead, I want to take a moment to outline a very popular Kijiji PayPal scam. I’m sure this scam perpetuates itself on other platforms but it seems to be particularly common on Kijiji.
The scam is straightforward and at first glance nothing seems to be amiss. Let’s say, for example, you’re selling a mobile phone. You post it for $700 and get your usual run-of-the-mill lowballs. “I’ll give you $400”. “Nope, but thanks for wasting my time mouth-breather.”
Then someone reaches out asking about your best price. You reply with $700, or maybe $650 if you feel like speeding up the negotiation process. This contact promptly replies, “I’ll take it. I’ll give you an extra $150 for your trouble if you’ll ship the phone to me. It’s for my daughter’s birthday and I need it urgently.”
At this point, red flags should be flying all over the place. If not, you might want to be a tad less trusting. Your contact then proceeds to tell you that he needs it shipped to India (or some other not-so-first-world country – Nigerian princes anyone?).
10 red flags now litter the ground around you.
However, your contact comes back with this: “Do you have PayPal? I can send you the money upfront.” So you begin to pick up the red flags and stuff them into your pockets.
Surely, if they pay upfront with a reputable service like PayPal all will be well, right?
Wrong. The way the Kijiji PayPal scam works is that once your contact receives the phone they will file a dispute with PayPal indicating they did not receive the phone. PayPal will then turn around and claw back the money from your account and the scammer/sketch-bag/terrible human being will get to keep the phone.
Thankfully, I didn’t learn this lesson the hard way. I proceeded to scour the internet for info on how the scam might work when I had a scammer reach out to me. PayPal can’t verify whether or not they received the phone so their hands are tied.
The scam has presumably gone on long enough that PayPal may have figured out remedies for this situation by now. Alternatively, requiring a signature for the delivery might work, though I’m sure the scammer has ways around that and/or won’t send payment if they ask for a tracking number and see that it’s registered.
As always, be smart and diligent on platforms like Kijiji. If you do receive suspicious messages feel free to have some fun with it. I like to either waste their time by seeming serious only to laugh, subscribing their phone numbers for various spam and/or sending them offensive content. It makes the experience a bit more pleasurable.