Buyers and sellers lose out in deceptions

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POLICE warn online buyers and sellers of items – and even properties for rent – to beware of scammers after a spate of complaints last week. In one instance, the seller of a mobile phone in Clarinda was seriously injured after arranging to meet a potential buyer in the street outside his Sundowner Avenue home, 10pm, Monday 6 November.

The male “buyer” and a mate arrived in a black Mercedes Benz SUV and agreed to buy the phone, which was valued at $700. He gave the seller, 39, an envelope supposedly containing the cash and then attempted to push past him and get into the car.

The seller stood his ground between the “buyer” and the car and began counting the “cash” – which he soon realised was counterfeit. By this time the “buyer” had forced his way into the car which was driven off with the seller being dragged along underneath the passenger door. He received shoulder and arm injuries and lacerations to his legs and was hospitalised for treatment.

In another instance, a Chelsea man attempting to lease an apartment answered an online advertisement for a Clayton property, Wednesday 1 November.

He began negotiations with the supposed “owner” and agreed to rent the Clayton Rd site for $1605 per month after paying a bond for a similar amount: a total of $3210 in advance.

After extensive online interaction, the prospective “tenant”, 26, agreed to transfer the money into the “landlord’s” bank account and, a week later, went around to inspect the property. However, it had a “For Rent” sign out front and was being managed by a real estate agent who told him his deal with the online “landlord” must have been a hoax. Detectives say they have a suspect in mind.

The online buyer of a car was also tricked into handing over a $350 deposit on a car at Chelsea which was not owned by the man who took his money, Friday 10 November.

The buyer, 45, of Carrum Downs, saw an advertisement for an $800 Hyundai sedan which was not roadworthy and not registered.

He visited the property, spoke to a woman, and inspected the car before agreeing to pay $650 for it. A man arrived saying he was the owner of the car but that the keys were at his sister’s and he should return the next day with the full amount and take the car. The “seller” then handed over the car’s service books and registration papers as some form of surety.

Next day the prospective buyer returned but no one was home. He texted over the next few days but got no reply. After calling in the police a man living nearby was identified as a suspect. Investigations are continuing.

Detective Senior Sergeant Matt Stuber, of Kingston CIB, said buyers and sellers should “be careful because unscrupulous dealers often take advantage of the young and naive”.

“People should beware the pitfalls of handing over cash,” he said.

“Our preferred method of payment is PayPal which provides some form of security to buyers.

“Also, buyers and sellers should be aware of their surroundings when dealing with strangers.”

First published in the Chelsea Mordialloc Mentone News – 15 November 2017

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