(Topic ID: 269538)

Attention! Don't get scammed!


By robin

46 days ago



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  • 88 posts
  • 61 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 6 days ago by LTG
  • Topic is favorited by 15 Pinsiders
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    #1 46 days ago

    Dear Pinside.

    I'm posting this topic as I've been seeing an increasing amount of people getting scammed through marketplace ads in the past few weeks. I have been investigating this quite extensively and wanted to share with you what I found out, and at the same time warn you all to be careful sending money to strangers.

    Note: in this topic, I'm specifically talking about online scams. Where you pay for a game and then nothing is shipped.

    What we found so far

    This appears to be one scammer, male. But more people could be involved.

    Scammer has been around for a long time and not just operating on Pinside. Also via Mr. Pinball (confirmed) and probably Craigslist and Facebook too.

    Scammer will mostly target "wanted" ads, as they know that posting an ad themselves will quickly get them noticed by our systems and by many alert Pinsiders, who will contact me or moderators about a suspicious ad (thanks to all who do!)

    Scammer likes to target newbies. There seems to be a pattern where all the folks who got scammed are all pretty new to Pinside. This makes sense.

    Scammer will quickly try to move communication off of Pinside. So they will start out via PM, then ask you for an e-mail address to post photos to. Then communication will continue via e-mail and, without going into details too much, this hurts our abilities to detect said scammers.

    Scammer will even ask for your phone number to talk about a game. He'll take his time. He knows his stuff. Knows the available mods. Knows the ins and outs. This guy is probably a pinball enthusiast in some form, or he has been absorbing Pinside knowledge for years. He likely uses burner phones.

    He will arrange for his game to picked up via a reputable shipping company. E.g. via Michelle @ STI. He will give them a fake pickup address. All to win your trust: "look, here's the shipping arrangements I made". This goes as far as to let STI come to the house for pickup, where they will find folks who "know nothing about any pinball machine".

    Scammer will try to get you to pay via wire or (preferably) via Paypal Friends and Family. This is a huge red flag as both methods will remove any protection you have. Some people were offered to pay in several instalments. I suspect not to raise any flags with Paypal?

    Scammer may use Pinside accounts that have been registered, then left dormant for some time. So it won't always be a <10 day newbie account.

    Scammer has no problem paying $5 to get verified as a real user. They use a range of (hacked?) verified Paypal accounts.

    Scammer will participate on Pinside. He will post in many topics. Often simple one-liners. But he's actively trying to look real.

    How not to get scammed

    The best way to avoid getting scammed is to buy in person, cash on the glass. However, we recently had a report of someone being robbed at gunpoint, when picking up a bunch of machines. That was the first time I ever heard of something like that happening, but it's something to keep in mind.

    But in this topic, I'm specifically talking about online scams. Where you pay for a game and then nothing is shipped.

    It is always advisable to look at someone's feedback/rating. Go to a Pinsiders profile page and click the "feedback" tab. Does the user have any feedback from previous sales? Was this feedback placed by reputable Pinsiders? You can quickly find the trustworthy sellers on Pinside via this system.

    One of our members, Vid1900, wrote a great guide on how not to get ripped off buying/selling pinball machines. Both in-person as well as shipped sales.

    Here is a link with all of his advice, brought together in one read:
    https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/how-to-not-get-ripped-off-in-pinball-vids-guide?tu=vid1900

    There is a lot of information in there, please read what applies to your case. Or better, read it all.

    TL;DR The best way of purchasing a pinball machine online is by using a proper escrow service, e.g. Escrow.com

    Who is this guy

    A lot of the information above applies to generally all scammers. But obviously a scammer from Nigeria may not get on the phone so easily to talk to you. And probably not be as knowledgeable. Certainly not all scammers build active Pinside accounts (i.e. actively participating on the site to build credibility).

    The recent scammer has been using Pinside to scam people for quite some time. I've tracked several dozen accounts that all link back to this same scammer. He scammed tens of thousands of dollars over the years.

    This particular scammer will actively participate on Pinside. Wanna see how? Here's one of his accounts forum posting history: https://pinside.com/pinball/community/pinsiders/pham78/forum

    What baffles me is that he was even trying to buy parts for a Black Rose pinball machine and also an old Bally drop target assembly. This suggests that this guy is a pinball collector himself. Or was he just trying to fool Pinside staff into thinking "surely, someone actively purchasing pinball parts cannot be a scammer?"

    Heck, this is a long shot, but maybe someone actually knows this guy? I have also found a link between this scammer and a site for airguns (airguns.net) as well as a site for archery (bowsite.com). If this sounds like anyone you may know, get in touch! The sooner we identify this guy, the better.

    I've been told by one of the scammed people that the FBI is now involved in this matter, so hopefully this pinball scammer will soon be in jail.

    Steps Pinside is taking

    The battle with scammers is ongoing. It has been for many years. I actively try to implement measures, they will find ways around it. It's always a tradeoff because we don't want to scare off legitimate pinball newbies into the hobby (and there are many, Pinside signs up around 30-40 new members per day).

    I hardly ever publish these changes/countermeasures (for obvious reasons).

    The scams often seem to come in waves. It will be quiet for a while, then the scammer(s) will return with new ways and methods. In the past I have deactivated marketplace ads placing for <1yr accounts, I have imposed limits on PM sending and more. But obviously, these measures also hurt legitimate pinheads.

    I'm going to place prominent links to this topic on various sections of the site.

    I have also been sparring ideas with some people, trying to come up with ideas how we could make online pinball trading safer. There are some great plans already. PM me, if you have ideas about this.

    Note: Feel free to chime in here, but please note that this topic will get linked to from our "new user warning" message. So please keep it on topic and free of useless remarks. Being a high profile and frontpage stickied topic, I have put this in post approval mode.

    #2 46 days ago

    An idea:

    In the USA, you (or any marketplace user on their own) could further verify accounts by using USPS signature confirmation with return receipt. Have them sign their name on delivery with a preshared key (which is returned to the shipper automatically by USPS when using this service). You could send them something unique (preshared key, image, etc) and have them post back here on pinside with that information.

    You could also send a letter signature confirmation restricted delivery (must show govt issued photo ID, age > 21).

    This might slow sales (3 to 7 day delay) if individuals are doing this themselves but might be worth the time and money [$2.65 (signature confirmation) plus $1.70 (with return receipt)].

    If a scammer is bold enough to use their own address or to mess with another's mail (Federal offense) then nothing you do will likely stop that particular scammer. I guess this is like a lock on a door, it will keep the "honest" thieves out.

    #3 46 days ago

    You can verify if an image is pulled from the web by right clicking on it and selecting "Search Google for Image" if you are in chrome. This will do a reverse image lookup. If it pulls up a hit you know it is a recycled photo. I have also seen people pull images from screenshots of youtube videos. Unless it is a popular game there are likely less than 10 playthrough videos of a game on youtube. It is worth scanning through the youtube videos to make sure the video isn't shot in the same room as the one for sale. I 100% caught a fake craigslist ad linked to on the NE for sale thread that had screenshots lifted from this youtube video.

    #action=share

    Finally, I'd like to bring up a technique I've seen in the... reef tank aquarium grow out contest thread. If you can verify 100% that an individual has access to a machine with keys, it is much less likely that they are a scammer. One way to verify that an individual has not started growing out their tank early, or has access to a pinball machine with keys is to request an image with a specific item under the glass. For example, if something sounds scammy, ask the seller if they can provide a photo with a bag of frozen vegetables under the glass to prove ownership. This is extremely hard to photoshop and something anyone with keys could do, but those without couldn't.

    Finally, stay safe folks. I have bought and sold 18 games in the past 2 years on pinside and have not had issues once. The one time I bought and met someone halfway I met in a well lit, well secured area where I knew they had lots of security and lots of cameras if something were to happen, a casino parking lot.

    #4 46 days ago

    Here’s a clever thing I’ve come up with. Request a live pic of the machine with something sitting on the PF glass. It could be as simple as a gallon of milk, a copy of today’s USA Today, etc. But insist it’s on the glass, room lights or PF lamps on for the glare. It’s very difficult to photoshop glass reflections and glare.

    #5 46 days ago
    Quoted from sataneatscheese:

    For example, if something sounds scammy, ask the seller if they can provide a photo with a bag of frozen vegetables under the glass to prove ownership.

    You know how difficult it is to get good pictures let alone something as bizarre sounding as this? There are "good sellers" on this board who get bent should you happen to ask for a picture larger than 25k in size. The idea of asking for a unique shot of something and not getting a insulting answer is virtually nil.

    #6 46 days ago
    Quoted from ryanbrooks:

    Here’s a clever thing I’ve come up with. Request a live pic of the machine with something sitting on the PF glass. It could be as simple as a gallon of milk, a copy of today’s USA Today, etc. But insist it’s on the glass, room lights or PF lamps on for the glare. It’s very difficult to photoshop glass reflections and glare.

    The problem is you can actually own the machine and still rip people off.

    #7 46 days ago

    You can report any Internet-related crime to IC3.gov which is the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). If there is enough information provided by Complainants about a scam and/or subject (and there is sufficient monetary loss) the FBI can open an investigation or refer it to another federal or state agency to take a look at.

    #8 46 days ago

    I think someone hit it on the head... request a FaceTime live (or some other live venue)for the machine. The seller would need to show the machine... and their face.

    They could do a live zoom, YouTube or other way to do a live feed to verify. Another idea is to have them show a piece of mail for the pick up location. Like an electric bill. I think by combining those two things it would make it tougher to get scammed.

    FWIW.... before this thread it would have never crossed my mind to do these things. So thank you for posting!

    #9 46 days ago
    Quoted from robin:

    Dear Pinside.
    I'm posting this topic as I've been seeing an increasing amount of people getting scammed through marketplace ads in the past few weeks. I have been investigating this quite extensively and wanted to share with you what I found out, and at the same time warn you all to be careful sending money to strangers.
    Note: in this topic, I'm specifically talking about online scams. Where you pay for a game and then nothing is shipped.
    What we found so far
    This appears to be one scammer, male. But more people could be involved.
    Scammer has been around for a long time and not just operating on Pinside. Also via Mr. Pinball (confirmed) and probably Craigslist and Facebook too.
    Scammer will mostly target "wanted" ads, as they know that posting an ad themselves will quickly get them noticed by our systems and by many alert Pinsiders, who will contact me or moderators about a suspicious ad (thanks to all who do!)
    Scammer likes to target newbies. There seems to be a pattern where all the folks who got scammed are all pretty new to Pinside. This makes sense.
    Scammer will quickly try to move communication off of Pinside. So they will start out via PM, then ask you for an e-mail address to post photos to. Then communication will continue via e-mail and, without going into details too much, this hurts our abilities to detect said scammers.
    Scammer will even ask for your phone number to talk about a game. He'll take his time. He knows his stuff. Knows the available mods. Knows the ins and outs. This guy is probably a pinball enthusiast in some form, or he has been absorbing Pinside knowledge for years. He likely uses burner phones.
    He will arrange for his game to picked up via a reputable shipping company. E.g. via Michelle @ STI. He will give them a fake pickup address. All to win your trust: "look, here's the shipping arrangements I made". This goes as far as to let STI come to the house for pickup, where they will find folks who "know nothing about any pinball machine".
    Scammer will try to get you to pay via wire or (preferably) via Paypal Friends and Family. This is a huge red flag as both methods will remove any protection you have. Some people were offered to pay in several instalments. I suspect not to raise any flags with Paypal?
    Scammer may use Pinside accounts that have been registered, then left dormant for some time. So it won't always be a <10 day newbie account.
    Scammer has no problem paying $5 to get verified as a real user. They use a range of (hacked?) verified Paypal accounts.
    Scammer will participate on Pinside. He will post in many topics. Often simple one-liners. But he's actively trying to look real.
    How not to get scammed
    The best way to avoid getting scammed is to buy in person, cash on the glass. However, we recently had a report of someone being robbed at gunpoint, when picking up a bunch of machines. That was the first time I ever heard of something like that happening, but it's something to keep in mind.
    But in this topic, I'm specifically talking about online scams. Where you pay for a game and then nothing is shipped.
    It is always advisable to look at someone's feedback/rating. Go to a Pinsiders profile page and click the "feedback" tab. Does the user have any feedback from previous sales? Was this feedback placed by reputable Pinsiders? You can quickly find the trustworthy sellers on Pinside via this system.
    One of our members, Vid1900, wrote a great guide on how not to get ripped off buying/selling pinball machines. Both in-person as well as shipped sales.
    Here is a link with all of his advice, brought together in one read:
    https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/how-to-not-get-ripped-off-in-pinball-vids-guide?tu=vid1900
    There is a lot of information in there, please read what applies to your case. Or better, read it all.
    TL;DR The best way of purchasing a pinball machine online is by using a proper escrow service, e.g. Escrow.com
    Who is this guy
    A lot of the information above applies to generally all scammers. But obviously a scammer from Nigeria may not get on the phone so easily to talk to you. And probably not be as knowledgeable. Certainly not all scammers build active Pinside accounts (i.e. actively participating on the site to build credibility).
    The recent scammer has been using Pinside to scam people for quite some time. I've tracked several dozen accounts that all link back to this same scammer. He scammed tens of thousands of dollars over the years.
    This particular scammer will actively participate on Pinside. Wanna see how? Here's one of his accounts forum posting history: https://pinside.com/pinball/community/pinsiders/pham78/forum
    What baffles me is that he was even trying to buy parts for a Black Rose pinball machine and also an old Bally drop target assembly. This suggests that this guy is a pinball collector himself. Or was he just trying to fool Pinside staff into thinking "surely, someone actively purchasing pinball parts cannot be a scammer?"
    Heck, this is a long shot, but maybe someone actually knows this guy? I have also found a link between this scammer and a site for airguns (airguns.net) as well as a site for archery (bowsite.com). If this sounds like anyone you may know, get in touch! The sooner we identify this guy, the better.
    I've been told by one of the scammed people that the FBI is now involved in this matter, so hopefully this pinball scammer will soon be in jail.
    Steps Pinside is taking
    The battle with scammers is ongoing. It has been for many years. I actively try to implement measures, they will find ways around it. It's always a tradeoff because we don't want to scare off legitimate pinball newbies into the hobby (and there are many, Pinside signs up around 30-40 new members per day).
    I hardly ever publish these changes/countermeasures (for obvious reasons).
    The scams often seem to come in waves. It will be quiet for a while, then the scammer(s) will return with new ways and methods. In the past I have deactivated marketplace ads placing for <1yr accounts, I have imposed limits on PM sending and more. But obviously, these measures also hurt legitimate pinheads.
    I'm going to place prominent links to this topic on various sections of the site.
    I have also been sparring ideas with some people, trying to come up with ideas how we could make online pinball trading safer. There are some great plans already. PM me, if you have ideas about this.
    Note: Feel free to chime in here, but please note that this topic will get linked to from our "new user warning" message. So please keep it on topic and free of useless remarks. Being a high profile and frontpage stickied topic, I have put this in post approval mode.

    Yeah, mr. airguns just posted a scam ad for a Firepower on mrpinball.com. Sent a bunch of photos. Gave phone number, address etc. He was going by the manly name of Mark Vance in email communications. There were a number of things in his ad, photos, and emails that pointed toward scam, but it's not my job to educate him on how to scam better so I'm not going to point those out, as I'd suggest others resist the urge to do that. WHile it may be fun to say "if this isn't a scam why does the pic show XXXX," when you do that, you are simply giving free scam lessons to these guys. Just disengage and ignore once you determine it's a scam, that's what I did.

    I'll just say it was the most believable scammer I've probably ever interacted with. Hobby is kind of turning into a cesspool when it comes to buying and selling, more outright scams and crooks then ever, doing a much better job plying their scams. And that's just the scammers, the "legit" newbies selling broken parts is another story.

    It was a good run but the hobby is worse than ever. I guess that comes with more people and more money.

    #10 46 days ago

    We've sold a couple of pins now using FaceTime. It it worked great. Completely able to go over the machine and put a face to the conversation.

    14
    #11 46 days ago

    Physically go buy the machine. Most scams solved right there. Not feasible because it's too far away? Be patient.

    It's worked for me 100%

    #12 46 days ago

    I make a YouTube video of me playing one handed. Send link to buyer. Make sure to chat a little though. "Here is that wear spot we talked about" "this is the discussed mod or repair made" etc.

    #13 46 days ago
    Quoted from Graysonsdad:

    "Here is that wear spot we talked about" "this is the discussed mod or repair made" etc.

    Oh that is good CYA right there!

    No more he said, she said / didn't say!

    10
    #14 46 days ago

    Scammers are getting more devious each year. If you can't go personally inspect the game then ask a Pinsider close to the seller to go authenticate the machine. Offer to pay for their time but any decent Pinsider should help. I know I would. If you can't make either of these work then walk away and consider yourself fortunate. Thanks Robin for all you do trying to keep us from getting swindled.

    #15 46 days ago
    Quoted from Atari_Daze:

    Oh that is good CYA right there!
    No more he said, she said / didn't say!

    I will frequently do that with pins I sell, short circuits the whole "you didn't disclose something" or "You sold me a dead pin" clause.

    Roll the tape!

    #16 46 days ago

    I've used the https://wegolook.com/ service before for non-pin purchases. It doesn't prevent shipment fraud from taking place, but for about $100 someone independent shows up and takes video or photos on your behalf, which improves the odds the vendor, location and item all exist.

    #17 45 days ago
    Quoted from NC_Pin:

    Another idea is to have them show a piece of mail for the pick up location. Like an electric bill. I think by combining those two things it would make it tougher to get scammed.

    Pretty much any printed materials are pretty easy to fake.

    Just because it's analog, doesn't mean it's foolproof.

    Video is harder to fake, but...

    Quoted from herbertbsharp:

    The problem is you can actually own the machine and still rip people off.

    #18 45 days ago

    A friend of mine and fellow pinside member recently sold an expensive machine on here in the 10k+ range.

    In doing so he supplied character references to the potential buyer as part of the process. Basically he gave the buyer the contact information of 3 established pinsiders who know him personally (myself included) that could vouch that he did indeed own said machine and it was a legit sale.

    This probably won’t work for the random person just selling one machine. However anyone that’s been around a while shouldn’t have a problem supplying this.

    12
    #19 45 days ago

    My profile says 4 years, but I've been around pinball for almost 30 years.
    The most important lesson I figured out over the years, and its an important one.
    You never ever need to buy a used pin long distance! Always buy local.
    Cash on glass in person.
    No matter how bad you feel you need this title, grail, rare, proto, etc...
    Your title WILL come up locally eventually. Yes, it will take time, could be long time. But it will show up!
    Go to your local shows, network, join a league, place an ad, your pin will show up close.
    Be willing to drive a little, find your radius.
    Lastly, the added risk of shipping and damage.

    18
    #20 45 days ago

    I'm in rural Australia, if i'd shopped local i'd still only be playing 3 pins instead of 17. I'll have years to enjoy playing my machines (and i don't have too many left) where the person following your advice would have years to wait.

    I even bought a Sorcerer from one of the members here and had it shipped from LA to me in Oz. If i hadn't done that i'd still be waiting and possibly never see the right one come up near me..

    You can wait, i'll play thanks.

    #21 44 days ago

    I agree with punkin. As machines become harder to come by it's usualy a case of shipping items 1000's of miles .. not 100's to source rare parts, mods, machines etc. It may be different for a population of 200 million but here in Australia, chances are it's going to be a long distance purchase and possibly an international shipment. I know i would prefer to buy face to face but rarely is this possible.

    #22 44 days ago

    Anyone Know Tim Campbell? From Virginia? He has followed Robin's script exactly "selling" a Getaway HSll (great pics) for 1450. And Then there was Dora Milton in Charleston selling her TAF (wow what a beautiful machine) for 1500. I have email & text with both if anyone is interested. Both came from Mr. Pinball classifieds. Such a disappointment. I bought a SBM from TLSBryan through Pinside last fall, (I was in Romania at the time!) and it worked out very well, he's a good guy. So sad our trust has to be smashed by a few real creeps.

    Good tips here, though. I really like the zoom idea, and didn't know about checking the pics on google.

    Just spoke with Tim. insists on text (I asked him to email the photos). He doesn't want to zoom. Says he isn't really an online kind of guy.

    #23 43 days ago
    Quoted from catvilledoorman:

    Anyone Know Tim Campbell? From Virginia? He has followed Robin's script exactly "selling" a Getaway HSll (great pics) for 1450. And Then there was Dora Milton in Charleston selling her TAF (wow what a beautiful machine) for 1500. I have email & text with both if anyone is interested. Both came from Mr. Pinball classifieds. Such a disappointment. I bought a SBM from TLSBryan through Pinside last fall, (I was in Romania at the time!) and it worked out very well, he's a good guy. So sad our trust has to be smashed by a few real creeps.
    Good tips here, though. I really like the zoom idea, and didn't know about checking the pics on google.
    Just spoke with Tim. insists on text (I asked him to email the photos). He doesn't want to zoom. Says he isn't really an online kind of guy.

    Run!
    Actually send him some midget porn and ask if he'll trade for your collection of that. Mr. Pinball is a cesspool of scammers now man. It's done, RIP.

    #24 43 days ago
    Quoted from ryanbrooks:

    Here’s a clever thing I’ve come up with. Request a live pic of the machine with something sitting on the PF glass. It could be as simple as a gallon of milk, a copy of today’s USA Today, etc. But insist it’s on the glass, room lights or PF lamps on for the glare. It’s very difficult to photoshop glass reflections and glare.

    Sorry to rain on your parade but that trick has been around for a long time. I bought my JP from a new Pinsider in FL that way, in 2013. Today's paper on glass. I was still nervous, and you can certainly still get scammed this way, but thankfully it worked out for me. Ive been fortunate.

    #25 43 days ago
    Quoted from catvilledoorman:

    Anyone Know Tim Campbell? From Virginia? He has followed Robin's script exactly "selling" a Getaway HSll (great pics) for 1450. And Then there was Dora Milton in Charleston selling her TAF (wow what a beautiful machine) for 1500. I have email & text with both if anyone is interested. Both came from Mr. Pinball classifieds. Such a disappointment. I bought a SBM from TLSBryan through Pinside last fall, (I was in Romania at the time!) and it worked out very well, he's a good guy. So sad our trust has to be smashed by a few real creeps.
    Good tips here, though. I really like the zoom idea, and didn't know about checking the pics on google.
    Just spoke with Tim. insists on text (I asked him to email the photos). He doesn't want to zoom. Says he isn't really an online kind of guy.

    Not an online guy but he can figure out Mr Pinball? How many red flags do you need?
    And really, there isnt a Getaway in WA? I know, I know, but its cheap. Fyi, many, many of us get Mr pinball ever night emails. Big audience, how many others called already? Im sure he said you were the first.
    And when ever have you seen a TAF for $1500?, been about 18 years for me.
    If its to good to be true......

    #26 43 days ago

    For what it’s worth, these sort of scams are not unique to Pinball.
    I’ve been involved in the collectibles industry my entire life and this sort of thing is happening (and has been happening) in nearly every field.

    It’s sad, but it’s the world we live in.
    Be smart and don’t take unnecessary risks.

    #27 43 days ago

    Here are a few ideas to minimize risk:

    -Do a FaceTime/Google Meet/Zoom call one on one with the seller to walk through the machine.
    -Setup the shipping yourself. Ask for an address and photo of their drivers license.
    - If they won't do that, tell them to go outside and take a picture of their house to see if it matches the google maps photo.
    -Pay the balance of the machine once the pickup is setup and the machine is packed up. (I've done a transaction where I paid the remaining 90% of the machine on a video call when the STI guys were there. Once I sent the PayPal funds, the seller allowed them to put it on the truck).
    -Oftentimes, a seller is the second or third owner, and can link to the listing they originally purchased from. this can at least prove some chain of sale with multiple photo sets on the same machine

    #28 42 days ago

    Wow, some great ideas, thanks all!

    Building on these ideas, one of the easiest things to implement would be address verification. It would be another level of verification (e.g. a blue checkmark) where we ensure someones address. What we have now, the black V icon, would remain the basic verification (stops most Nigerian scammers because they don't want to shell out $5 bucks to get verified).

    So how would mail address verification work? It would involve Pinside sending a postcard (automated via one of the online sending APIs) containing a code. You log in to Pinside and enter that code. Boom! Address verified.

    Then I thought, postcards are fairly easy to steal, even if that's a federal offense (I mean, so is scamming people out of thousands of dollars, right?). I could also send out a Pinside mug. It's too big for your letterbox and you need to open the door to accept it. I would enter the code on the packing slip. Or print it on the mug, lol.

    I estimate this could be done for around $10 (I would need to check, but it looks to be doable, at least for US adresses).

    Still not 100%, but it's pretty darn close. Right? Or am I missing something obvious?

    #29 42 days ago
    Quoted from okgrak:

    Oftentimes, a seller is the second or third owner, and can link to the listing they originally purchased from. this can at least prove some chain of sale with multiple photo sets on the same machine

    A chain of ownership service would be a great solution - I'm not a digital currency user but I think it relies on "blockchain" to prove a unit's (the 'coin', or whatever the currency is) legitimacy. Successfully adapt that to pinball (or jewelry, or model railroad, or whatever) and you've got a service people would pay to use. Carfax seems to be an in-use example - a relative of mine just bought a 2012 vehicle and thanks to that service PRIOR TO the purchase they learned they would be the third owner, the car started life in TX but moved to NC, there were no insurance repair claims, and even some service record dates were noted. Of course most things (including pinball machines) don't have a mature unique ID (like a VIN) that are mandatorily registered for use with a PITA regulating authority.

    But if buying on Pinside it would make sense to at least verify if the game is listed in the seller's collection, and if you can get a serial number maybe you'll get lucky looking in the serial number database (IPSNDB.net). Unfortunately, as this chart below (scraped from ipsndb.net home page) shows, not many newer games are being registered. That said, maybe Pinside 'for sale' ads could offer a field for SN and pull from the serial number database? Ads could be marked as "IPSNDB verified" - this could encourage more submissions to that service and begin to solve the "chicken and egg" problem around the data.

    Maybe something as simple as "## users have contacted this seller via PM" in the market listing could be a hint to buyers that a seller may not be working more than one buyer simultaneously. If I know I'm the 14th contact on a listing yet I'm being handled as 'first in line' I may become more suspicious - especially on a well-priced offering.

    Screen Shot 2020-05-30 at 7.20.39 AM (resized).png

    -Rob
    -visit http://www.kahr.us to get my daughterboard that helps fix WPC pinball resets or my replacement LED display boards for model H & model S Skee Ball

    #30 42 days ago
    Quoted from robin:

    Wow, some great ideas, thanks all!
    Building on these ideas, one of the easiest things to implement would be address verification. It would be another level of verification (e.g. a blue checkmark) where we ensure someones address. What we have now, the black V icon, would remain the basic verification (stops most Nigerian scammers because they don't want to shell out $5 bucks to get verified).
    So how would mail address verification work? It would involve Pinside sending a postcard (automated via one of the online sending APIs) containing a code. You log in to Pinside and enter that code. Boom! Address verified.
    Then I thought, postcards are fairly easy to steal, even if that's a federal offense (I mean, so is scamming people out of thousands of dollars, right?). I could also send out a Pinside mug. It's too big for your letterbox and you need to open the door to accept it. I would enter the code on the packing slip. Or print it on the mug, lol.
    I estimate this could be done for around $10 (I would need to check, but it looks to be doable, at least for US adresses).
    Still not 100%, but it's pretty darn close. Right? Or am I missing something obvious?

    I'm in. But the mug needs to say "I'm not a thief" and display it on any pin that I sell...

    #31 42 days ago
    Quoted from robin:

    Wow, some great ideas, thanks all!
    Building on these ideas, one of the easiest things to implement would be address verification. It would be another level of verification (e.g. a blue checkmark) where we ensure someones address. What we have now, the black V icon, would remain the basic verification (stops most Nigerian scammers because they don't want to shell out $5 bucks to get verified).
    So how would mail address verification work? It would involve Pinside sending a postcard (automated via one of the online sending APIs) containing a code. You log in to Pinside and enter that code. Boom! Address verified.
    Then I thought, postcards are fairly easy to steal, even if that's a federal offense (I mean, so is scamming people out of thousands of dollars, right?). I could also send out a Pinside mug. It's too big for your letterbox and you need to open the door to accept it. I would enter the code on the packing slip. Or print it on the mug, lol.
    I estimate this could be done for around $10 (I would need to check, but it looks to be doable, at least for US adresses).
    Still not 100%, but it's pretty darn close. Right? Or am I missing something obvious?

    Pm sent about my Paypal idea.
    I also included the idea about marketplace ads.
    I do like the mug idea. But no little mugs, i drink big coffee's.

    #32 42 days ago
    Quoted from robin:

    Wow, some great ideas, thanks all!
    Building on these ideas, one of the easiest things to implement would be address verification. It would be another level of verification (e.g. a blue checkmark) where we ensure someones address. What we have now, the black V icon, would remain the basic verification (stops most Nigerian scammers because they don't want to shell out $5 bucks to get verified).
    So how would mail address verification work? It would involve Pinside sending a postcard (automated via one of the online sending APIs) containing a code. You log in to Pinside and enter that code. Boom! Address verified.
    Then I thought, postcards are fairly easy to steal, even if that's a federal offense (I mean, so is scamming people out of thousands of dollars, right?). I could also send out a Pinside mug. It's too big for your letterbox and you need to open the door to accept it. I would enter the code on the packing slip. Or print it on the mug, lol.
    I estimate this could be done for around $10 (I would need to check, but it looks to be doable, at least for US adresses).
    Still not 100%, but it's pretty darn close. Right? Or am I missing something obvious?

    My mailbox can easily hold a packaged mug, so don't rely on that. However you can require a signature on delivery for an extra cost - put the "under $10" to "require signature" and I think it could work.

    #33 42 days ago
    Quoted from robin:

    Building on these ideas, one of the easiest things to implement would be address verification.

    I like the sentiment behind adding additional protections. Address verification of some sort seems like a good idea.

    But additional measures are already available (example: escrow.com) and often ignored by people who get scammed. How many threads have we all read from people who ignored red flag after red flag?

    Maybe a simple list of red flags on key marketplace pages and leave it at that. I don’t think making a Herculean effort to protect people from themselves is exceptionally helpful. At some point you should accept that every person is willing to assume a different level of risk and the consequences.

    #34 42 days ago
    Quoted from robin:

    So how would mail address verification work? It would involve Pinside sending a postcard (automated via one of the online sending APIs) containing a code. You log in to Pinside and enter that code. Boom! Address verified.

    Google actually does this to confirm ownership business listings before they are allowed to be listed.

    #35 42 days ago
    Quoted from robin:

    Then I thought, postcards are fairly easy to steal, even if that's a federal offense (I mean, so is scamming people out of thousands of dollars, right?). I could also send out a Pinside mug. It's too big for your letterbox and you need to open the door to accept it. I would enter the code on the packing slip. Or print it on the mug, lol.

    It's incredibly unlikely the postcards would be stolen. A scammer would have to know a legit pinsider requested the card verification, they'd have to know where the pinsider lived AND they'd have to steal the card the day it arrived. And it would all be for naught because the recipient would alert Robin the card never came and that particular code would be invalidated.

    Mugs are cool but cards would work fine.

    #36 41 days ago

    Thanks to you robin and all the awesome Pinside moderators for making this a great place to be.

    #37 41 days ago
    Quoted from ForceFlow:

    Google actually does this to confirm ownership business listings before they are allowed to be listed.

    I could give you an earful on this subject.

    Friend of mine is a locksmith who constantly has to deal with "gypsy locksmiths" with Google business listings.

    They scam the Google verification all the time and Google does not seem to mind. His complaints to them have fallen on deaf ears.

    #38 40 days ago
    Quoted from metallik:

    It's incredibly unlikely the postcards would be stolen. A scammer would have to know a legit pinsider requested the card verification, they'd have to know where the pinsider lived AND they'd have to steal the card the day it arrived. And it would all be for naught because the recipient would alert Robin the card never came and that particular code would be invalidated.
    Mugs are cool but cards would work fine.

    I'd have to agree with this one. I think a post card would be sufficient for 99% of the people on this board, or even just a simple card in a sealed envelope.

    #39 39 days ago

    I’m not buying anything without seeing it or touching it. I Have committed online to buying stuff from one particular individual because I trust him and know the quality of his work and machines having gotten 3 machines from him through trades/purchases, But it still boils down to in person cash on the glass for the transaction.

    I am going to be the person responsible for transporting my stuff. I do not trust anyone to take care of it like I will, so I never ship and won’t. I have utilized the road trips to try out great or famous restaurants along the way.

    #40 39 days ago

    Only buy from trusted sellers, period!!!

    It's too risky nowadays; buy from Pinsiders with Feedback or a local distributor with a good rep

    #41 38 days ago
    Quoted from gdonovan:

    I could give you an earful on this subject.
    Friend of mine is a locksmith who constantly has to deal with "gypsy locksmiths" with Google business listings.
    They scam the Google verification all the time and Google does not seem to mind. His complaints to them have fallen on deaf ears.

    You can google verify, and then change the address to whatever you want once you are verified. I did that myself as i don’t have mail sent to my pinball shop.

    #42 37 days ago

    So I’m guessing about a year back I was looking for a Gottlieb Mini Pool. Today I randomly got an email from a guy about one I had to laugh about. I have no idea how he got my email address. I have no want ads on pinball classifieds anymore. This is all I got:

    DE98CBE1-A4BB-40E1-A618-1EEBC9949E12 (resized).png
    #43 37 days ago
    Quoted from Murphdom:

    So I’m guessing about a year back I was looking for a Gottlieb Mini Pool. Today I randomly got an email from a guy about one I had to laugh about. I have no idea how he got my email address. I have no want ads on pinball classifieds anymore. This is all I got:
    [quoted image]

    Sounds like third party selling of information.... Maybe this was the last string of selling your email info to get to this guy.

    #44 37 days ago

    I want to add a new line here to say thank you to all who have posted. I'm new to this community and want to say thank you all for an open arms welcome all around the site. This thread truly has made me a better buyer online and getting the valuable knowledge of the do's and don'ts has been quite eye opening!

    #45 36 days ago

    Welcome to new users, but also if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Common sense - would you hand a complete stranger 8000 normally? Don't let our passion for pinball make you less aware.

    #46 36 days ago

    As a very new member here this was disheartening to read. Much appreciated, but disheartening. I like that the thought process is from both sides. Not just safety when buying. But also verification for those selling. An idea for behind the scenes for sellers would be to send In a GPS pin drop at the location of the machine/their current location. Screen shot with current time and date stamp. Most here probably have a smart phone with that technology in it. The admin could track this if there happened to be any issues with said seller.

    Love the picture Under the glass idea and the video link as cya for seller explaining high and low points of their machine.

    #47 36 days ago

    Does Pinside data keep track of the time a person signs up. Say it was 9:36am pst.
    Someone contacted me today regarding a game , brand new member June 5th 2020 . Not saying this is a scam, just seemed strange.

    #49 35 days ago
    Quoted from Doppler17:

    An idea for behind the scenes for sellers would be to send In a GPS pin drop at the location of the machine/their current location. Screen shot with current time and date stamp. Most here probably have a smart phone with that technology

    Problem with this is that scammers are using burner phones, a phone like a trac phone, that they have no problem throwing away.

    #50 35 days ago

    It’s surprising to honest people how much effort a scammer will put into their scams.

    Scammers are efficient at weeding out marks from contacts unlikely to fall for their scam.

    When trying to become more resistant to scams try to look at it from a scammer’s point of view. Where are the weaknesses in the system and how can I take advantage of that?

    One site to learn common scammer tactics is https://www.419eater.com/

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