Scam Emails Archive : Generic

Subject: Scamdex, Internet Scambusters Newsletter #312, 12-03-08

From: "Scambusters Editors" <>

This email with the subject "Scamdex, Internet Scambusters Newsletter #312, 12-03-08" was received in one of Scamdex's honeypot email accounts on Wed, 03 Dec 2008 01:01:10 -0800 and has been classified as a Generic Scam.

The sender was "Scambusters Editors" <>, although it may have been spoofed.


Internet Scambusters (tm)
The #1 Publication on Internet Fraud

By Scambusters Audri, Jim and Keith
Issue #312  December 3, 2008


Note 1: Easily change your subscription information by
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Hi Scamdex,

A few weeks ago, we did an issue of Scambusters called "The 7
Most Common Antiques Scams and How to Avoid Them."

Today in this second issue on antiques scams, we suggest 10
questions that can help you identify whether that collectible
item you've had your eyes on is actually an antique scam.

By testing the seller's expertise and challenging your own
judgment, you may save yourself from paying a fortune for
something that's essentially worthless.

Before we get started, we suggest you visit last week's most
popular articles from our other websites:

Answers to 7 of the Biggest Questions About Photographing
Children Outdoors: An Interview With Cheryl Machat Dorskin

The Door To Door Sales Identity Theft Scam: Adapting Old
Methods To Today's Purposes

Where to Go For The Best Online Coupons 

Holiday articles:

Christmas Deals That Are Too Good To Miss

Looking For The Hot 2008 Christmas Gift Trends?

3 Money-Saving Christmas Shopping Tips

Time to get going...

Antiques Scams 2: The 10 Key Questions to Help Cut Your Risk

In our earlier issue on antiques scams, we discussed the seven
main types of rip-offs that snare collectors and investors.
This time we look at what you can do to minimize the risk of
being conned.

We've drawn up a list of 10 key questions you can ask -- five
for the seller and five for yourself -- that will highlight
the risks you are taking when you buy an antique or
collectible item.

We'll start with...

Questions to Ask the Seller

Question 1: What more can you tell me about this item?

Sounds kind of obvious doesn't it? But a genuine seller,
especially a dealer, will know far more about an item than
what you might expect to read in an ad.

You can usually tell when a person is lying or bluffing --
they tend to become flustered, making vague comments, and
avoiding eye contact with you.

If the seller gives a genuine reason why he or she doesn't
know much about the item, get them to explain how they
acquired it, encouraging them to go into detail. Make notes
and build new questions from the statements the seller makes.
Many scammers won't be able to stand the heat for long without
making a mistake.

Question 2: Can you prove the value and authenticity of this

A reasonable price for an antique or collectible is the amount
others have recently paid for similar items. You can do some
research on this yourself but the seller also must be able to
justify the asking price by referring to recent sales reports.

Authenticity might be down to merely the "expert" opinion of
the seller. If you're lucky there might be some documentation
such as a photo or a letter, known in the business as
"provenance," that seems to confirm the history of the item.

Be wary of this if the provenance is a Certificate of
Authenticity, which might be a worthless forgery.

Question 3: What kind of guarantees can you give me? Can I
return the item for a refund?

These two related questions are particularly important when
you buy an item sight-unseen. What you're looking for here is
an undertaking that you can get your money back if the item is
not in the condition advertised or turns out not to be genuine.

It's quite normal and acceptable for a seller to impose a time
limit and charge a restocking fee (if they're a dealer) for
accepting a return but it's important to know these terms

You're entitled to ask the auctioneer and/or the seller to
vouch for the item's authenticity and you will have legal
redress against them if they turn out to be wrong.

If you can't get a written guarantee, that should be reflected
in the price.

Question 4: Tell me about yourself. And (if it's a dealer),
how long have you been in business?

You want to feel reasonably comfortable about the seller's
credentials. Even if it's an individual, you can get a sense
of their trustworthiness from the way they talk about
themselves and if they're in any way evasive. Don't be afraid
to ask for references, especially if there's a lot of money at

With a dealer, you gain some reassurance if they've been in
the business for a reasonable period of time because that
suggests not only that they have a reputation to protect but
also that they know the antiques or collectibles market well.
Ask also if they belong to any kind of professional trade

Question 5: Do you mind if I get a second opinion before
making my decision?

If the item is expensive and its authenticity is critical to
an exceptionally high valuation, you may not want to make a
costly decision without getting a back-up opinion. This might
cover not only the authenticity of the item but also any
condition issues that might detract from its value.

A secondary question would be: Can you take the item off-sale
and put it away for me while I check a few things out?

A reputable and competent dealer should have no problem at all
with such requests -- even if you're just testing him and you
don't actually go through with the second opinion. If the
dealer objects, take that as a strong danger signal.

Now for the...

Questions to Ask Yourself

Question 6: Do I know enough about this category to be
confident about my purchases?

If you collect a particular type of antique, you should have
acquired some expertise -- at least enough to know what to
look for and to raise any doubts about its authenticity. But
if you're a beginner or the item is outside your area of
expertise, it pays to do some research before setting out on
the buying trail.

Unless and until you know your stuff -- or have access to an
expert -- start slowly. Don't buy expensive items.

You can use the Internet of course. But if you take your
collecting seriously, you should buy one of the major antiques
price guides, subscribe to magazines and auction results

A note of warning too: Some items are illegal to sell, mainly
ancient archaeological artifacts or carvings using
contemporary (poached) ivory. That doesn't stop people from
trying to sell them, but, if you buy, you also have broken the law.

Question 7: Does the item appear genuine? Are there any
telltale signs that suggest a scam?

A quick bit of research (plus a re-read of our first issue)
will alert you to some of the most common antiques scams.

For instance, we hear from experts that antique storage
furniture, like desks and dressers, are always made of several
different varieties of wood, cheaper stuff being used for the
out-of-sight elements like backs and drawers. The same quality
wood all-around is the sign of a scam.

Does the condition appear to be too good for the supposed age?
Or is some aspect of the artifact just not right -- for
example, old autographs done with felt tip pens, or signatures
on baseballs (which are actually quite awkward to do) that
look like they've been transferred from a flat surface.

Question 8: Is the price too good to be true?

As regular readers know, this is an old Scambusters favorite
-- but this time with an important qualification, which we
mention in the next paragraph. The key point is that whether
it's an investment in an antiques business or an item on sale
at your local collectibles mall, alarm bells should ring if
the price is mouthwateringly attractive.

The exception would be when you spot something, usually in a
garage or estate sale, which is underpriced because the seller
hasn't identified its true value. This is fair game. If you
have a hunch and the price is right, you may want to proceed
-- but subject to the issue we raise in Question 10 below.

Question 9: What will I do if I get scammed?

Thinking of the end-game in the unfortunate instance that
you've been scammed will help you make a judgment about
whether or not it's worth going ahead with a particular

For instance, are you prepared to take legal action against
the seller (and how realistic is this possibility)?

Will you be seriously out of pocket if you've been conned?
Could you be accused of receiving stolen property? Asking
yourself these kinds of questions will flush out your unspoken
concerns and inform your decision-making.

Question 10: Do I like the item?

We started with an obvious question and we finish with one.
But it makes an important point. Despite even your best
vetting procedure, you might subsequently discover the item
you bought is a fake.

Provided you're not talking about thousands of dollars
difference in value between the genuine article and what you
bought, maybe you can enjoy it anyway.

This is especially the case with ornaments and jewelry. When
you are considering a purchase, it's best not to buy purely
because of supposed value. If it turns out to be a fake AND
it's ugly -- something you don't like -- you'll be doubly

How many times have you seen someone on Antiques Roadshow
learn that what they thought was valuable is really a dud. But
they say: "Well, I like it anyway." That's how you want to be!

Remember this simple rule: The more expensive the item, the
more you are putting your own money at risk and the more
cautious you should be. And if you're in any doubt at all --
either about the item or the answers you've been given to your
questions -- don't buy!

That's a wrap for this issue. Wishing you a great week!

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