Getting scammed. Just that phrase alone should be enough to make the hair on the back of your neck stand. Or, even worse, makes you recall a time where you have been a victim. No one likes getting scammed out of their hard-earned money. We all would love to believe that our community and its members are above such an act. But, as with any community, that element can exist. The good news is that there are steps to take to protect yourself.
We are happy to present our next Guest Blogger, Salomon Vainstein. Salomon, better known on Instagram as @playingcards4life (https://www.instagram.com/playingcards4life/), provides some insight into better protecting yourself from getting ripped off. Thank you Solomon for taking the time to provide this writing!
Ten ways to NOT get scammed: Card Community Edition
Let’s face it, we all have flaws, however big or small they may be. Some people worry too much, others worry too little. Some people might bite their nails, and others even their toe nails. Sometimes an overly positive trait may end up being a flaw (e.g. being too trusting). And sometimes a person’s flaw is that they have one too many bad bones in their body.
There are a ton of people who have bad bones in their body, but by the title of this blog, I am sure you can tell that I want to focus on scammers. The dictionary defines scammers as:
Unfortunately, scammers exist in all walks of life, and some have even found their way into the playing card community that we all cherish. I have personally been scammed in the past, and have recently bought decks from someone who has been accused of being a scammer. Of course, I was not aware of this guy’s history until after my transaction. Luckily, it seems I will be receiving my decks in the end.
So, in this post, I want to focus on TEN WAYS for you to avoid being scammed in the card community. And there are a ton of ways to avoid being scammed, and even more ways to be scammed, so feel free to comment away on this blog post on other scam-avoidant methods.
- If it’s too good to be true…
Sometimes, you come across a deal of a lifetime, and you think “there’s no way the deal is that good!” If you find yourself in that mentality, you are probably right. The deck is probably dinged, incomplete, or you will never get it. I would recommend walking away, but feel free to use some of the other tips to double check the offer and see if you somehow lucked out. In summary, when your gut talks, listen three times (any Name of the Wind fans out there?)
- Odd Photos
To make sure that the person actually has the product, simply ask for a photo of it. Ask for multiple angles. If you’re worried they will get a photo from online, ask for the photo to contain something specific or odd, such as: a note with their signature, a hand holding up a certain number of fingers, or even their favorite Yu-Gi-Oh card. And, if you’re even worried about that picture being doctored by Dr. Fote O. Shop, then ask for a video with the decks, and have them say something specific in the video.
- Payment methods
When executing a transaction with someone you have never dealt with before, and someone you are a bit uneasy about, use payment methods where you would be able to reclaim your money. These include:
- PayPal: Goods and Services
- Sending money with your credit card through your bank
PayPal goods and services allows you to open a case and reclaim your money in about a two week process. If you pay using PayPal Friends and Family, you are essentially telling PayPal that the person you are paying is, well, a friend or family. For some “crazy” reason that let’s PayPal know that you trust them, so you can’t open a case get the money back. Banks can also reclaim money in most cases if you open a case about a fraudulent transaction.
If you’re dealing with someone who does not have a PayPal, GTFO.
If you’re dealing with someone who can only accept Western Union, GTFO.
If you’re dealing with someone who only accepts precious gems and metals, GTFO.
- Take ‘em to the Vet and Ask the Community
If you have no idea who this person is and whether or not to trust them, then vet them; and no, I don’t mean to take them to your local veterinarian for an exam (though maybe that would work to). I mean look into their history, who they associate with, what are they known for. The best way to do this is simply make a post and/or ask around if anyone has ever done business with this person. If all the feedback you get is positive, especially from reputable sources, then go for it. If the feedback is negative or non-existent, perhaps don’t go for it.
- Operates an online card shop (I forget the name)
- Has a ton of followers on Instagram, and continuously interacts with people
- My friend Mike vouches for Henry, as does every other card collector
- Posts pictures of the product, and provides tracking information
Dr. Fote O. Shop
- Has 5 posts on Instagram; none show his face
- Some people say he is good, but most people say he is difficult to deal with
- One guy says he never got his decks
- Says one thing, does another
So again, find out who the person is, and ask around, it never hurts. If it’s a deal you feel like you have to grab right away: Stop, Breath, and Ask around first anyway. It will save you potential stress and headache. And remember, just because someone says they know X or are friends with Y, it could be a lie. In summary, ASK THE COMMUNITY.
- Meet in person
You may be fortunate to live near the person you want to buy decks from, or perhaps you both plan to go to a future meet-up/convention. If that’s the case, just do the sale in person and save on shipping on top of that. However, if you decide to do this, make sure you bring a friend, meet in a public place with other people around, check the product before paying, and pay with exact change (or let them know to bring change for your bills).
- Get their information
Essentially, ask for a photo, phone number, place of work, full name, and whatever else you can think of; and then, make sure all the information you get is real. The person might still proceed with the scam, but at least you have information that could potentially help you out. I am unsure of how many cases of playing card scams the police deal with, but I am sure they wouldn’t mind adding one to the list. Unclear whether they would actually investigate…maybe if it was a transaction involving a large sum of money.
- Use a middle man
If you want to proceed with a transaction, but the person can’t accept Paypal, and you are a bit uneasy about it, use a middle man you can both agree with. Steve (@nothing_only_cards) is one such person who has said he is willing to help in a transaction.
Q: So how would this work?
A: The buyer sends the money to a trustworthy middle man (perhaps use Paypal to be doubly certain). The seller sends the product to the middle man. The middle man then sends the money to the seller, and decks to the buyer is everything is copacetic. Boom, crisis averted.
- Check delivery statuses, and open reports
Scams don’t always have to be directed towards the buyer. They can easily be directed towards the seller, or through a trade. In the buyer/seller scenario, the buyer sends the money, the seller sends the decks, the buyer says they did not receive anything, and seller resends or refunds the money, and the buyer ends up with double product or free product. The trade scenario can occur in two ways: the first way is that one of the “traders” does not send out their decks and says they do, and then when they get the decks from the other person, they vanish. The second scenario is one person says they did not receive the decks (when they did) and the other person has to resend or send back the other decks.
So, what can be done. Make sure you keep “track” (pun intended) of all tracking numbers. If someone is telling you they did not receive a package, check your tracking, and open a report into it. If the tracking says it was delivered, give it another day or two to show up, and if the other person is adamant about nothing showing up, open up an investigation through the shipping company. Additionally, there always seems to be a cat-and-mouse game in trades of someone waiting for the other person so send first. What I recommend is both people getting labels and sharing tracking information before any one person sends out. Maybe even send the packages at the same time though video chat.
- Nigerian Prince
If his royal highness, the Nigerian Prince, contacts you saying he has a brick of red Fontaines, but he trusts no one in his family, and if he could send them to you to get to his cousin in the states, and that for your efforts you can keep three, but first he needs your routing number…I say go for it, he is a prince after all.
But in all seriousness, don’t do it. I don’t think the Nigerian Prince scam or the FBI scam will be a problem in the card community, but if it ever is, don’t do it.
- ASK THE COMMUNITY
For the final tip, I felt it necessary to reiterate something I mentioned before. There are a lot of people in our awesome cohort, and you might not know everyone, but someone you know will know someone else who knows someone else who knows Henry Cortez :D. Haha, but actually, this community is vast and most of us look out for one another. So, if you’re dealing with someone and need a second opinion, ask a friend, and ask another friend. Make a story post. Ask me. Get a few opinions before any rash purchases; because if that person has a bad bone in their body, someone else will probably know about it and steady your “send money” hand.
BONUS TIP: Don’t Buy from Strangers
The bonus tip is the simplest yet. If you don’t know the person and no one else seems to, just don’t buy from them. I guarantee you will find another deal down the line; or save-up some money, and get it from a source you trust even if it is a little bit more.
Scammers exist. Be cautious and smart, like I was not. PayPal. Ask the community.