Scam Watch

We have listed some of the most common online scams below for you:

Being asked to pay by money transfer services such as Western Union, Ukash or MoneyGram.

These services were developed to send money to friends and family scattered around the world and to for sending money to strangers. Fraudsters love these services because they are largely untraceable once they have your money! Fraudsters have many ways of tricking you into using these services. The most common trick is to ask you to prove that you have money by sending some to a friend or relative via one of these services and show them the receipt. Once they have the tracking number from your receipt they collect your money with ease. If a stranger asks you to use these services the alarm bells should start ringing and you should exercise extreme caution.

Payment or protection services by from well known sites such as eBay or PayPal.

An email arrives from eBay, PayPal or similar offering you buyer protection or an online payment system. This is often in connection with a transaction from someone you’ve met online. Alternatively, the buyer or seller may suggest you use a payment or protection service from one of these providers and sends you to a link and instructions to follow. These are fake and are known as SPOOF or PHISHING emails. Swapz has no form of payment scheme or protection and does not offer any guarantee or compensation schemes. Although other companies offer payment or protection schemes, the email or instructions you get will not be genuine. If you receive an email that is supposedly from a company offering a service, we suggest you always go directly to the company’s official website and look for details of the service published there.

Cheque overpayment.

This is a very plausible favourite! A potential buyer sends you a cheque for a higher value than that of the item you are selling. They then ask for the overpayment to be given to them or a third party – often explained as being for their shipping charges. In these cases, the cheque will clear into your bank account, only to be reversed weeks later. At this point, the bank or building society will take the full cheque amount back out of your account. At the end, you are out of pocket for the value of the item they have taken and cash amount you gave back as the difference.

Fake escrow sites.

A buyer or seller insists on using an escrow service to complete the transaction. These escrow websites often may look very official but are, in fact, run by fraudsters themselves. They get your money and you never see the item.

Payment for brokerage or importing.

The person you are buying from says that there are brokerage fees, import duties or other fees that need paying to get an item into the country. Do not ever pay these fees. Typically, you will never get the item and will lose all the money you have paid out. When swapz introduced the ability to sell on the site we saw it as a service that should be local with members, ideally, meeting face to face. By meeting locally you can see the item and take it away with you there and then.

An email from swapz (or another company) asking for your personal details such as logins, passwords, PayPal or credit card details.

An email arrives from swapz or another company and and asks that you reply or follow a link to provide personal information. These are completely fake and are known as SPOOF or PHISHING mails. Any emails that combine urgency and a request for personal details should be treated with great caution, regardless of who appears to have sent them. It is easy to create fake websites and pages from them. No reputable company or entity would ever send you a mail like this! If you receive an email alleging to be from swapz, and asking for your personal information, don’t follow any links provided in the email. Report the issue to swapz using the HELP link at the top right hand side of the website.

Home Working and Representative Opportunities

Lately, there has been an increase in home working opportunities that are fronts for money laundering operations. The major warning sign should be any job or position that involves you receiving cheques and cashing them. These jobs are sometimes referred to as ‘money mules’. Another warning sign is any job that doesn’t require a face to face interview or much information about your past experiences. Some work from home offers can be pyramid schemes which require you to recruit other members before you get paid. An example would be an advert that says you can make £80 an hour stuffing envelopes. In reality, to make that kind of money, you have to sell the system to others. It is because of this that we usually don't allow work from home listings on swapz.

Advance Fee Scams.

These are also known as 419 scams after the Nigerian penal code for those caught carrying them out. It usually starts with an email asking for your help in getting a large sum of money out of a country – and you will be paid a generous commission for helping to do so. At some point the scammers will ask you for money to help pay for legal fees, bribes or miscellaneous in the process of getting the large amount of money out of the country. Once you have paid the amount they need you will never hear from them again. A variation on this is also meeting the love of your life online. At some point they will ask for money to buy an airline ticket so they can come and visit you. Again, once you’ve paid you will never hear from them again!

You can find more information on scams and fraudsters at the following sites:



You can report fraud here: