3 Common Internet Scams: What To Look For And How To Avoid Them


Buying or selling anything over the Internet comes with inherent risk. There’s virtually no way around this. This is especially true when you are looking to buy or sell something like a motorcycle.

When you’re dealing with a large, potentially expensive transaction, you always have to have your guard up. The old rule of thumb “If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is” continues to ring true.

It’s unfortunate, but the truth is the internet is full of people looking to take advantage of others to make a quick buck. We have seen this firsthand in our decade of dealing with motorcycles online. Our experience has given us a unique insight into the different types of scams that are out there.

Read on for our take on how to spot and avoid three of the most common internet scams when you’re buying or selling a motorcycle online.

Beware Of The Sob Story

So you’ve been pouring over listing after listing for what feels like an entirety. All of a sudden, an ad finally catches your eye. The motorcycle is the exact make and model you want, and the price listed makes it look like an unbelievable deal.

Naturally, you reach out to the seller and let them in on your interest in the bike. When they get back to you, they come with a story. Here is where things get suspicious.

They respond to your inquiry by explaining that their spouse/parent/sibling/etc has suddenly passed away and that they need to get rid of the motorcycle as soon as possible.

Maybe your heartstrings are tugged, maybe you’re just giddy about closing this seemingly incredible deal. Either way, you respond quickly and inquire about payment and shipping.

What you get back is a long-winded explanation about how they have already moved to a new city, but the motorcycle is at a storage facility or at a friend’s house in the original city.

They assure you that shipping is taken care of. All you have to do is send them your personal information, they’ll have someone else ship the bike to you, and you’ll have a few days to look it over and decide if you want to keep it. They’ll usually insist on doing everything through PayPal or Google Wallet. Big red flag.

These scams are intended to get you to send over your personal information and/or money. In reality, the chances of you ever seeing the motorcycle are slim to none.

No matter how great the deal seems, stop communication immediately. This is one of the most prolific Internet scams that usually occur with big-ticket items like cars or motorcycles.

So, if you come across a sad story combined with convoluted payment/shipping plans, it’s best to just back off. Their goal is to get your personal information. End of story.  

The Flake

This scheme seems to plague classifieds listings all over the Internet. You reach out to a potential seller to inquire about their motorcycle. All seems well at first.

You go over specifications, maintenance history, etc. You decide on a time and place to meet up to see the bike in person. So far, so good.

They may even suggest you pay them half up-front via PayPal or similar payment services. As the day comes close, you get a message saying they are not able to meet up on the proposed date. No big deal, things happen.

So you agree on another date and go about your day. That date comes, and sure enough, the “seller” is again unable to make it. They propose another date and time, and the cycle keeps on going until they get you to break and just send over money to “secure” the bike.

If a potential seller refuses to meet in person or talk on the phone, don’t bother engaging further. There is no reason a rational, well-meaning human being would deny meeting in person for a purchase like a motorcycle.

The best remedy to this dilemma is to limit your search to local sellers who are willing to meet in person or make arrangements with a secure motorcycle shipping company.

The Absent Buyer

Here’s one for the sellers to watch out for. This is where a potential “buyer” reaches out to you claiming an interest in your motorcycle. It usually takes very little time before they claim that they would like to buy it, no questions asked. Surprise, surprise, here’s where things tend to go off the rails.

The “buyer” will come up with some excuse as to why they themselves cannot meet in person to get the motorcycle. They claim that they have already made arrangements with someone else to handle the shipping for them.

They’ll insist on sending over a cashier’s check or something similar, for much more than what your motorcycle is worth. They’ll claim that you are to use the excess money to pay the “shipper” for their services.

Consider this your cue to stop immediately. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Cease communication, cut your losses and move on. They are going after your personal information. And that check they are insisting on? Yeah, that’s counterfeit.

Attempting to cash them may result in you getting in hot water with the bank. Avoid this nightmare entirely by insisting on cash, or else making payments through a secure escrow service. If they can’t bother to go through legit mediums, they’re probably scamming.

Basic Rules To Protect Yourself

  • Never send money over a wire transfer

  • Beware of sellers who refuse to meet in person or speak via telephone

  • Don’t give out your personal banking information

  • Convoluted arrangements are almost always a red flag. If it’s too difficult to make arrangements, move on.

  • When in doubt, trust your instincts

Take Care Moving Forward

Buying or selling over the Internet can bring with it many challenges. Our goal is to help keep you informed so you know what to look out for going forward.

Scammers are always going to be around, but that doesn’t have to scare you away completely. After taking the time to educate yourself about what to look out for, you can move forward with the confidence that you will know when something seems out of place.

Especially when dealing in the virtual realm, common sense should always lead the way. Don’t ignore your gut feeling. Hopefully, this information will help you to go forth buying or selling a motorcycle with the confidence that you are aware of the basic steps to keep yourself protected.

At ChopperExchange, we work diligently to ensure the safety and security of both our buyers and sellers. If you ever have questions regarding fraud, feel free to reach out to us at (800) 523-7274 or at info@chopperexchange.com.

Have you ever bought or sold a motorcycle online? What advice would you give to first-timers in order to protect themselves?

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