Top 6 Motorcycle Buying and Selling Scams

Scammers pose as both buyers and sellers. There are many tactics that scammers use to con unsuspecting people. They will often combine the tactics listed below to create the perfect strategy. But don’t let the possibility of encountering a scammer discourage you from purchasing or selling a motorcycle.

Fortunately, for our customers, ChopperExchange is scanned daily for fraudulent activity. But it’s also important that you know how to identify a scammer. After reading this post, you will be able to tell the difference between a legitimate buyer/seller and a scammer.

Buying Scams

1. The Immediate Offer Scam 

The “immediate offer” is a classic scamming tactic. Let’s say you’ve had your motorcycle listed on a classifieds site for a few weeks now and haven’t had much luck. 

You may be impatient, especially if you have time-sensitive plans for the money. A scammer will try to capitalize on your emotions. If you take the bait, you could be lured into another trap listed below. 

Try to remain patient when selling your motorcycle online. On ChopperExchange, a motorcycle can sell in as little as 2 weeks. On average, it takes 67 days for a motorcycle to sell on ChopperExchange. Our website also has tips on how to sell your motorcycle quickly

A scammer may claim that this is his/her dream bike and that they are willing to pay your asking price. They will claim that they want to buy the motorcycle immediately because they are afraid you will sell it to someone else. 

However, even if this is the buyer’s dream bike, someone interested in making such a large purchase would definitely ask questions about the bike’s condition, before making an offer. 

This leads us to the next scam, the “no need to negotiate” scam.  

2. The No Need to Negotiate Scam 

A scammer, posing as a buyer, will also fail to negotiate. They may ask a few standard questions to appear to be a legitimate buyer, but this is a facade. Most buyers will ask very specific questions.

The scammer knows you will be thrilled that someone has agreed to pay your asking price. As a seller, you would probably be relieved if you didn’t have to deal with someone haggling with you or low balling you.  

Of course, it’s never ideal to settle for less than your asking price. But a buyer that doesn’t even attempt to negotiate is most likely a scammer.  

Even a first-time buyer will have specific questions because they are often concerned about the condition of used motorcycles. 

This technique is used to lure you in. Then the scammer will execute one, or a combination of, the tactics listed below to take your bike and/or your money.  

3. The Fake Confirmation Email Scam

Another red flag is when a buyer insists on paying you via an online/mobile payment service, such as PayPal, Cash App, or Venmo

First, you both agree on a price. Then, the buyer offers to pay you via PayPal. Many legitimate buyers may not know the risks of using an online payment service. That’s ok.  

Suggest using an escrow service, such as Escrow.com. Tell the buyer that it will protect both of you by making the transaction secure. 

If they immediately dismiss your suggestion and insist on using a service like PayPal, they are most likely a scammer.

The scammer is planning to trick you by forwarding you a fake payment confirmation email. They’ll claim that it could take 3-5 business days for your bank to post the funds to your account. Don’t ship or hand over the motorcycle! They never paid you a dime. 

If you suspect fraudulent activity when using Paypal, you can report the suspicious email or website to Paypal to investigate. 

4. The Overpay Scam 

Another buying scam is to offer to pay more than the asking price. The scammer may say they want to reward you for your kindness, customer service, or to make sure that no one else buys the motorcycle. 

The trick is, they purchased the motorcycle from you with a stolen credit card or check. Now your bike is gone and you may be held liable for the stolen funds. 

What’s worse? You may not get a fraud notification until after you’ve already spent the money you anticipated receiving. 

For example, Venmo states that if you accept payment from someone for a good or service and they later find the payment fraudulent, they may reverse the payment. Their policy also states that “the review process may not occur until after you attempt to transfer the funds out of Venmo.” 

The “overpay” scam has two variations. In this one, the scammer will offer to pay you via PayPal or a similar service. Then, they will claim they accidentally overpaid you. 

The scammer will forward you a fake PayPal confirmation email as proof of payment, then ask you to wire them back the amount they overpaid. 

The trick is that they never paid you in the first place. But you actually paid them when you sent them the “difference” they “overpaid.”    

You can find more ways that scammers use PayPal for fraud on their help center webpage.   

5. The Fake Shipping Company Scam

Sellers can include the cost of shipping in the asking price or require the buyer to pay for it separately. The buyer and seller can discuss it and come to an agreement. 

Similar to the “overpay” scam, the illegitimate buyer will pay you more than the bike costs. This time, they’ll claim that the additional money is to cover shipping. 

If you agree to handle shipping, the scammer will suggest a company, then send you a link to the company website and ask you to wire the extra shipping money to that company. Unbeknownst to you, the shipping company is fake. 

When the scammer “paid” you for the motorcycle, they used a stolen credit card or a fake check. And when you made the payment on the fake shipping site, you wired the money to another scammer outside the United States and will most likely never get it back. You also gave the scammer your credit card information. Yikes!  

6. The Busy Schedule Scam

Furthermore, a scammer will always have an excuse for why they can’t talk on the phone or meet in person. First, it’s that they missed your call. Then, it’s that they have a hectic schedule. They also like to claim that they are in the military and can’t make phone calls. 

At a minimum, a serious buyer will want to speak to a seller on the phone. They will want to know that the seller is trustworthy. No one wants to give a large amount of money to a complete stranger.

The scammer is, undoubtedly, using a fake name. And they’ll want to limit contact with you to remain incognito. 

Because they are so “busy”, they’ll most likely insist you ship the bike. They’ll pay will a stolen credit card or send you a fake PayPal payment confirmation. 

Selling Scams 

1. The Sob Story Scam 

One of the most common motorcycle selling scams is the “sob story.” In this one, the scammer will attempt to capitalize on your emotions. 

Let’s say you see an ad for a motorcycle you’re interested in, so you reach out to the seller. The seller responds with a lengthy text or email. 

They explain that their partner, parent or sibling has passed away. They claim that they need to sell their motorcycle quickly to pay for their loved one’s funeral arrangements.

The scammer will usually insist that you pay them via PayPal.

To avoid meeting you, they may claim that they relocated after the death of their loved one. Once you pay them, you’ll never hear from them again. This leads us to our next fraud tactic, the “relocation story.” 

2. The Relocation Story Scam 

Another way an illegitimate seller may try to scam you is by claiming that they’ve relocated. They’ll appear to be in your local area, but when you reach out to them they’ll say that they recently moved. 

The scammer could also claim that they are not in the area because they are away at college, in the military, or traveling abroad. These are all excuses so that you won’t ask to meet with them. 

They’ll claim that the motorcycle is at a friend’s house or in a storage facility. But they’ll assure you that shipping is taken care of. All you have to do is send them your information and they’ll have someone ship the bike to you. 

Again, the scammer will insist that you make the payment via an online payment service. You’ll pay for the motorcycle and never receive it. 

3. The Phony Escrow Company Scam

In this scam, the seller will suggest or insist on using a specific escrow company. They’ll claim that the company is safe, cheap and fast.  

Side note: Using an escrow service is actually the perfect way to make a secure transaction, if the escrow company is real. The process is pretty simple. First, the buyer gives the money to a reputable escrow company, such as Escrow.com. Next, the buyer receives their purchase. Then, the escrow company transfers the money to the seller.

However, in this case, the seller has recommended a fake escrow service. If you pay for the motorcycle on the fake escrow site, you’ll give the scammer your personal account information and the payment money.  

4. The Bogus Classifieds Site Scam 

Beware, fake classifieds websites do exist. Fraud Guides recommends double-checking the site’s domain name. 

Scammers may use a domain name similar to the one of a popular classifieds site. You may think you are on www.craigslist.org but you are actually on www.craiglists.org. 

Illegitimate sellers also post ads on real classifieds sites. After baiting you, the scammer may ask you to pay them via PayPal or attempt to gain access to your personal information.

5. The Unbelievable Price Scam

A common way fake sellers lure unsuspecting buyers is by listing at unbelievably low prices. Be mindful. It’s sketchy when a motorcycle is listed far below the Kelley Blue Book recommended value

Scammers love listing antique or vintage Harleys for sale at crazy low prices. They steal images from legitimate listings on reputable websites and then create fake listings using those images. The irresistible part is the super low asking price.

The scammer is hoping that the buyer gets so excited about the deal, that their emotions cloud their judgment. Once the buyer pays, they’ll never hear from the seller again. 

6. The Busy Seller Scam 

Never buy a motorcycle from anyone you have never spoken with over the phone or have never met in person. 

For example, the seller may ask you to pay them half of the money upfront via an online payment service. Then, you both agree on a time and place to meet. When that time comes, they are “unable to make it.” 

The seller proposes a new date and time, and he/she asks you to send over more money to “secure” the bike. Time comes around for the next meeting and they flake on you again.

An illegitimate seller will always have an excuse for why they cannot meet up with you. This is because the motorcycle you’re buying doesn’t even exist. 

Prevention Tips 

Now that you know the top motorcycle buying/selling scams, you should be able to distinguish between a legitimate buyer/seller and a scammer. 

At the end of the day, trust your gut! If something feels off, don’t proceed. You can use the tips below to avoid getting scammed. The National Consumers League also has additional information and resources on their advocacy website, fraud.org

  1. Don’t rush into anything. Be open to negotiating. 
  2. Use a reputable shipping company. 
  3. Talk on the phone, video chat, and/or meet in person.
  4. Don’t let emotions cloud your judgment. 
  5. Check businesses for legitimacy.
  6. Use a trusted escrow service. 
  7. Confirm payment with your bank.
  8. Double-check website domains. 
  9. See the motorcycle in person, before you buy it.  
  10. Guard your personal information. 

What scam was the most shocking to you? 

Has someone ever tried to scam you? Could you tell that person was a scammer?  

Tell your story below to spread awareness!

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