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Online Motorcycle Scams

In the Internet age, motorcycle riders are finding themselves sucked into a wide variety of scams. Unscrupulous individuals hiding behind email addresses, fake websites and untraceable cell phones are concocting new plans each day to bilk their innocent victims. Several of these schemes may involve both sellers and buyers that never knew what hit them when their money went missing without a trace.

With a little help from a friend

In one common scam, fraudulent buyers claiming to be located overseas target motorcycle sellers in online classified ads. The seller is told that the buyer’s friend in the United States owes him money and will furnish it to the seller as payment for the motorcycle, which the friend will ship overseas to the buyer. The amount owed by the friend to the buyer is typically twice the asking price. The buyer explains that all the seller has to do is deposit a cashier’s check from the friend and wire the excess funds to the buyer. The generous buyer even offers to permit the seller to keep some of the excess money for their troubles. In reality, the cashier’s check is phony and the friend never arrives to pick up the motorcycle.  In many cases, the excess funds that have come out of the seller’s own pocket have already been wired to the buyer long before the seller ever discovers the scam.

The bike is not in the mail

In a variation on the overseas-friend scam, con artists offer to sell motorcycles under duress. They frequently justify too-good-to-be-true prices by claiming a loved one died while riding the motorcycle or that they need to unload it due to a messy divorce. In this scam, there is no motorcycle and the seller disappears once the requested down payment has been forwarded.

Protecting yourself in an online motorcycle sale

A little common sense and healthy suspicion can go a long way when you are involved in an internet motorcycle sale. Experts recommend the following steps to avoid being taken in:

  • Never forward payment via MoneyGram or Western Union
  • Check the buyer or seller out by speaking to them on the phone or meeting them in person
  • Do your own background check on the motorcycle using the vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Research any shipping companies the buyer or seller mentions to verify details

Falling victim to an online scam is a daunting experience. If you think you have been scammed, call law enforcement and seek legal advice on how you may be able to recover from the perpetrator.

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