The Tell-Tale Scam

As I said the other day, it is never good to assume that your customer is trying to scam you. However, there are a lot of scam artists out there, and a lot of people fall for these scams. So, I am going to go through the tell-tale signs of a scam, and some of more common scams on Etsy.


The one you hear about the most…the Nigerian Prince. So, the Prince of Nigeria contacted you, through an Etsy convo, and wants to buy an obscene amount of your product…and he will even pay you more for it than you asked! But he needs it urgently and will send an agent to come pick it up from your home. That agent will have the check / cash for you. Sounds amazing, right? Well, here are a few things wrong with the scenerio…Nigeria is a democratic country. There were kingdoms, princes, kings, queens, but it has been a stable democracy since 1999.What is interesting is that some of the states, such as Lagos, still have kings, so they would still have princes. But, I imagine that the Prince of Lagos is called just that…the Prince of Lagos…not the Prince of Nigeria. Mind you, I am not a Nigeria expert. It is just what makes sense to me.Secondly…no offense to your work, I am sure it is amazing…but I am pretty sure that the Prince of any country isn’t trolling Etsy looking for things to buy urgently.


Okay, that’s an easy one…how about this guy…he is an oceanographer (or sailor, or astronomer, or pick a profession) and is out to sea. He really wants this item, but he can’t pay through Etsy because he is out to sea. Can he have his agent contact you with the money, and they will pick up the items. OR, can he wire you the money, more money than you are asking for, then he will have an agent pick up the order…and you give that agent part of the extra he sent you…to cover the pick up fees. So…what is wrong with this scenario? Oh yea…he can get online and get on Etsy in order to see your items and talk to you, but he magically can’t check out? He is paying you an extra $100 to pay the delivery guy? He is paying the delivery guy $500? That’s a crazy awesome day for the delivery guy. Oh…and ships can get mail. I used to get mail all the time, when I ordered from Etsy and Amazon and EBay while out to see for 7 months of the year…for 4 years…


My incredibly sick daughter/wife/sister/cousin/husband/dog only has been given a few months to live and s/he really loves this item. I can’t afford to purchase it because the medical bills have been so taxing. I am totally overwhelmed by my financial situation. But I really want to be able to give my dying loved one this item…can we work out a payment plan? $10 every other Friday for the next 6 months? But I really need you to send it right away, because they might not make it 6 more months. (Or better, could you donate this item?)Ā  This is hard to say no to, because what if it is true. What if they are legit. That’s heartbreaking…but here’s the thing…it probably isn’t true. I have known parents of terminal kids…they are not normally going around begging for free stuff. And with this payment plan scenario, you may get $10 for the item, you may get $20…you may get nothing. The moment that the item arrives, they will stop paying.


I run suchandsuch charity. We are having an auction to raise money for suchandsuch cause. Would you like to donate an item to help? These people have real gall to me. It is absurd. Because when you say no, man oh man do they have terrible things to say to you about what an awful person you are! I do not support charities I am not familiar with, and I have not had a chance to look over their financials. Even if it is a legit charity, how do you know that 80% of donations don’t go towards “overhead” with only 20% actually going to the cause? That’s insane to me…and it happens, a lot, and you would be surprised by which HUGE charities that you have probably supported before are horrible and the money doesn’t go where you think it does. I really like Charity Navigator when researching charitable donations.


And you can read my rant about phony bloggers here



The biggest tell-tale signs of a scam…

  • They have made up some huge, amazing, awesome title for themselves
  • They ask to contact them outside of Etsy, exclusively (Now, some clients want to confirm on the phone, and that is fine, as long as all the details are followed up and agreed upon through Etsy. Some people just explain themselves better vocally.)
  • They want to complete the transaction outside of Etsy, to help save you the trouble and fees.
  • They want to use a payment method you have never heard of…
  • They want to pay cash.
  • They want to pay through a personal check and freak out when you say postal money order.
  • They want a third party to come pick the item up.
  • They need it urgently but aren’t ready to pay immediately for the super expedited shipping.
  • They offer you more money than you are asking for.
  • They are asking for something for free.
  • They live far, far, far away and have limited access to the internet…because let’s be honest, if you had limited internet access, would shopping on Etsy be your concern?



I have found that most people are decent and honest…so don’t go around accusing your customers of being cheats and swindlers! But, do keep a weather eye open and don’t fall into the trap. If it sounds way too good to be true, it probably is!


2 thoughts on “The Tell-Tale Scam

  1. In good charity news- I have found out that the Shriners are 100% legit. Because they are a branch of the Masons- the Masons pay for the administrative costs. 100% of the ticket sales at Shriner circuses (and anything you give to the Shriners when they stand on street corners with those buckets) goes straight to the Shriner’s Children Hospital to help children. 100%.


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