(Topic ID: 269538)

Attention! Don't get scammed!

By robin

1 year ago


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  • 204 posts
  • 114 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 8 hours ago by backglass
  • Topic is favorited by 22 Pinsiders
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    There are 204 posts in this topic. You are on page 3 of 5.
    #101 10 months ago
    Quoted from cconway84:

    Most scams seem to involve buying used pins from scammers sight unseen. How about NIB pins from distributors on this site? What is best practice on my end evaluating and buying new pins? Are bank wires the standard or do I have any exposure sending money via wire?

    You shouldn't have any problems from a reputable & established distributor. If you're not sure about a particular distributor, you can always post a thread and ask about peoples' experience with them.

    Note, however, there seems to be a scammer who tends to copy content from other distributors (usually ThePinballCompany.com) and recreates their own brand new websites with lower prices in attempt to attract and scam people.

    4 weeks later
    #105 9 months ago

    Warning: Scammers are digitally altering photos to show proof of ownership now.
    This post popped up today showing how someone got scammed into a $100 deposit on a Black Knight 2000. Here is a Screenshot of the scam account and the scam ad. Notice in the ad there is a placard in the lower right corner showing proof of ownership… a name on a card under the glass.
    Some secret sauce internet sleuthing revealed the following photo from a 2017 pinside for sale ad. Notice it is the exact same photo, but without the name placard. Same position of lights on the game, same pins next to it.
    The scammer lifted the photo from pinside and used photoshop to digitally add in proof of ownership. The scammer asked for a $100 deposit (it’s 8 hours away) and then offered to ship for free through a bogus company after abruptly cancelling pickup arrangements. https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/i-think-i-may-be-getting-scammed-help#post-5855922
    Long story short, scammers are getting better. Be careful with facebook and pick up in person when you can.
    scam (resized).pngSCAM 4 (resized).pngSCAM2 (resized).pngscam orig (resized).jpg

    SCAM5 (resized).png
    #106 9 months ago

    Here is a great laugh. I posted an ad on Mr. Pinball looking for a Williams Trade Winds. I got an email “NOS Williams Trade Winds” as the email header and $1200 for the email body and nothing else so I played along. “Tony Barn” said he had a NOS Trade Winds . That’s had never been played before and he was willing to ship it to me. He was an old man and his grandson was out of town and usually helped him out with pictures so he didn’t know how to send them. I think I laughed out loud when I read NOS. Oh, and it’s $300 to ship and he only takes PayPal F&F. This guy is a true clown.

    1 month later
    #108 8 months 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.

    Thank you for the heads up and posting this information..

    #109 7 months ago

    I am soon to be in the market for a used TMNT (LE). However since I'm a newbie, I have no feedback. Which I'm sure no seller wants to even consider selling to someone with no feedback.

    And since I live in Sidney, MT I am nowhere near any games. So it'll have to be shipped.

    What is the best method to doing the purchase if I do through the marketplace and need it shipped? Using Escrow.com?

    #110 7 months ago

    so has anyone heard of AXM Pinball machines?? https://axmpinballmachines.com/

    They say they have a "Pinside Rating of 100%".

    They are responsive via email, but can't find much about them online. Their website looks a bit junky...

    Any info out there??

    Thanks!

    #111 7 months ago
    Quoted from northernarrow:

    so has anyone heard of AXM Pinball machines?? https://axmpinballmachines.com/
    They say they have a "Pinside Rating of 100%".
    They are responsive via email, but can't find much about them online. Their website looks a bit junky...
    Any info out there??
    Thanks!

    I can't find any mention of this company anywhere.

    The domain name was created on 6/30/20, so it's pretty recent.

    Most, if not all, of the game images were stolen from elsewhere.

    The written content doesn't make any sense.

    The phone number is associated with scammy sites.

    I doubt this website legitimate.

    There's been a whole stream of scam sites just like this one. They're pretty easy to set up for someone who knows what they're doing.

    Do NOT send them any money.

    #112 7 months ago
    Quoted from BaxterStockman:

    I am soon to be in the market for a used TMNT (LE). However since I'm a newbie, I have no feedback. Which I'm sure no seller wants to even consider selling to someone with no feedback.
    And since I live in Sidney, MT I am nowhere near any games. So it'll have to be shipped.
    What is the best method to doing the purchase if I do through the marketplace and need it shipped? Using Escrow.com?

    Have you thought about just buying a Premium from a distributor?

    #113 7 months ago
    Quoted from Fezmid:

    Have you thought about just buying a Premium from a distributor?

    I have, but I'm a much bigger fan of the art package on the LE.

    And the price of a Premium + HD Glass + Shaker Motor + art blades = more $ than the LE that comes with all of that plus my preferred art and armor. And a lot of the LEs for sale have mods and cliffy protectors and such.

    #114 7 months ago
    Quoted from northernarrow:

    so has anyone heard of AXM Pinball machines?? https://axmpinballmachines.com/
    They say they have a "Pinside Rating of 100%".
    They are responsive via email, but can't find much about them online. Their website looks a bit junky...
    Any info out there??
    Thanks!

    100% a scam. All language and material stolen from thepinballcompamy.com... a real distributor. They even have the same stock in the same order.
    Here is the scam site.
    Screenshot_20201104-142343_Chrome (resized).jpg
    Here is the real site they are stealing from.
    Screenshot_20201104-141744_Chrome (resized).jpg

    #115 7 months ago
    Quoted from northernarrow:

    so has anyone heard of AXM Pinball machines?? https://axmpinballmachines.com/
    They say they have a "Pinside Rating of 100%".
    They are responsive via email, but can't find much about them online. Their website looks a bit junky...
    Any info out there??
    Thanks!

    They appear to be part of a bigger scam. It appears to be a Taiwanese guy that in June 2020 created a whole bunch of websites, many that are non-reachable but all use the same phone number. He may be operating out of Sanford, FL. But I would just steer clear.. Why bother since there are SO many reputable distributors that can be found? Try Jason at ClassicGameRooms in Georgia if you can't find one.... But like I said, there are many great distributors to choose from mentioned here on pinside

    #116 7 months ago
    Quoted from Markharris2000:

    They appear to be part of a bigger scam. It appears to be a Taiwanese guy that in June 2020 created a whole bunch of websites, many that are non-reachable but all use the same phone number. He may be operating out of Sanford, FL. But I would just steer clear.. Why bother since there are SO many reputable distributors that can be found? Try Jason at ClassicGameRooms in Georgia if you can't find one.... But like I said, there are many great distributors to choose from mentioned here on pinside

    Yup..The guy called me up from Florida sure - wanted to "help" me organize the bank transfer in Bangkok through some "friends" of his...Glad I didn't go through with this!

    1 week later
    #119 7 months ago

    Another scam site popped up named "pinball base"

    https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/pinball-base

    These new scam sites seem to keep cropping up fairly regularly lately.

    3 weeks later
    #123 6 months ago

    AXM Pinball site is no longer available..just as well, at least they wont be trying to scam anyone..probably start up another one with a different name knowing these types.

    Screenshot_2020-12-09 Site Currently Unavailable (resized).png
    #124 6 months ago

    1 Aeropost Way, SCL-6141
    Miami, FL 33206-3206
    United States

    Anyone ever ship to this address? Pinsider just tried to buy from me. Refused to use friends and family said can only send a services payment. Gave this address which pulls a bunch of scams and gave a phone number linked to businesses with the same address but different P.O. Box number.

    I just refunded the money. Too many flags.

    #125 6 months ago

    I became aware of a fellow pinsider who got scammed on MMRE. Smooth talking scammer, knew his stuff. Guy wired $.
    Some tips:
    Background check buyers and reverse search phone numbers.
    Check routing numbers for bank location, etc.
    Get references from known reputable pinsiders.
    Avoid Facebook. This one originated there.
    Perhaps use fellow pinsiders to verify that a game exists, and inspect.
    Check photos against pinside listings.
    FaceTime and check and inspect the game.
    Read this thread from top to bottom as well as VIDs thread on how to not get scammed.
    I feel really badly for the buyer.
    If it’s too good to be true, it’s fake.

    On another note, I avoided a moving company shipping scam from a Batman Forever listed for free out Billings. You know, it’s on a truck and I’ll put you in touch with the moving company. I called the real moving company, and the guy said “I don’t know nothin about no pinball, but I’ve had 4 calls about it.” The scammer used an area code and number similar to the real moving co, sent a bad looking invoice, and offered to ship the game to me for $245 With 60% down. I finally said I’ll have sti pick it up from your warehouse, and got ghosted of course.
    Folks, be smart, be safe, and good luck to you all.

    4 weeks later
    27
    #127 5 months ago

    Today, I have launched the new address verification feature, which I wrote about earlier! This feature allows you to get an "Address Verified" sticker on your account, which shows Pinsiders that you are indeed located where you claim to be. Like all other things online, it's not 100% watertight, but together with the other tricks in our anti-scammer bag, it's another welcome addition.

    Let me briefly explain how it works!

    First, go to https://pinside.com/pinball/my-pinside/verification and at the bottom of the page you will find the option for address verification.

    Simply fill out your address in the the lookup bar:

    pasted_image (resized).png

    Select the proper suggestion out of the list and hit enter. An address form will be populated:

    pasted_image (resized).png

    Add your name and correct anything that might be wrong, now hit "preview". You will see a preview of the address envelope:

    pasted_image (resized).png

    If all is correct, click the "yes" button. A verification letter with a unique code will now be printed and sent to the specified address:

    pasted_image (resized).png

    Once you receive the letter, enter the code on the verification page (or scan the QR code) and your account will be Address Verified.

    Keep in mind, your full verified address will never be displayed on Pinside without your explicit consent. I am planning a feature where people can request your verified address in a PM thread, via a simple button. Once you approve the request, also via one button click, the system will share the address in that PM thread.

    Important: Address Verification is completely optional! It's another layer of trust that will help defend Pinsiders against scammers. We already had our basic verification system (through a >$5 donation or via a Pinside reference), which reduced the number of scammers on Pinside substantially. The address verification will further help us keep Pinside scammer free.

    Verification is free for Pinside+ users. Everyone else pays a small fee for postage and handling.

    #128 5 months ago

    Awesome, Robin.

    What do we do if we've moved?

    #129 5 months ago

    I moved to Corolla NC but my verified address shows my old location. How can I change?

    #130 5 months ago
    Quoted from wtatumjr:

    I moved to Corolla NC but my verified address shows my old location. How can I change?

    Resubmit maybe?

    #131 5 months ago
    Quoted from wtatumjr:

    I moved to Corolla NC but my verified address shows my old location. How can I change?

    I’m in the same boat. My verified address isn’t my address

    #132 5 months ago
    Quoted from jfesler:

    Awesome, Robin.
    What do we do if we've moved?

    Quoted from wtatumjr:

    I moved to Corolla NC but my verified address shows my old location. How can I change?

    Quoted from northerndude:

    I’m in the same boat. My verified address isn’t my address

    Robin posted this after I contacted him about this issue. He will manually fix it, I’m sure he’ll add a feature to update the address soon. Right now it just proves you’re real

    #133 5 months ago

    A long standing scam is someone pretending selling a Lotr balrog topper on eBay ( last one out of 20 evidently), the pictures are taken from a 5 years old review website easy to find on google search. when contacted the seller asks to be paid directly because the shipping cost is wrong ( of course ). The scam is reposted every 2months.
    Be careful

    #134 5 months ago
    Quoted from wtatumjr:

    I moved to Corolla NC but my verified address shows my old location. How can I change?

    Ah, sorry I overlooked that.

    For all pre-approved folks with multiple addresses in the database, I have switched your verification address to the latest known address. Hope that works out for most of you.

    I will also work on making this selectable via a dropdown of earlier used addresses, stay tuned for that!

    #135 5 months ago
    Quoted from robin:

    Important: Address Verification is completely optional!

    I went to sign up and I'm already verified because of Pinside Shop order, so not completely optional... But helpful, so thank you!

    #136 5 months ago

    Once I was looking at an add on Craigslist of pinball machine. I click on google with one of the pictures. The pinball machine was not for sale in Chicagoland. It was in someone’s basement out east on pinside can’t remember now. Same walls in house, same floor same pictures.

    #137 5 months ago

    Recently a gentleman posted in FB that somone duped them out of 5k and a pinball machine. Getting all the details shows it was a scam and buyer got taken for a ride.

    Don't trust a Facebook store as anyone can set them up. Glaring details might not be obvious when your excited about your purchase, as time progresses they will probably find the faults and make it less likely to detect.

    PayPal funding for any large purchase should be put on a real CC and not your bank account / ATM, you can even use a real CC as source for friends and family transactions and even venmo.

    Good luck fellow collectors and buy safe.
    Screenshot_20210120-070856_Facebook (resized).jpgreceived_1095541407552705 (resized).jpegreceived_117790533544099 (resized).jpeg

    #138 4 months ago
    Quoted from Fezmid:

    I went to sign up and I'm already verified because of Pinside Shop order, so not completely optional... But helpful, so thank you!

    Same here... but this leads me to a question for robin. Do you just need to purchase something on a Pinside shop and then the address you send it to gets verified? If so, it would take a scheming scammer, but it seems they could just order a small $10 part to an address that isn’t theirs and get “verified” to that address. I was thinking the idea of having a mailed out code was so you had to actually be at the address and have access to the mail. Or maybe I’m missing something? Maybe this is cross referenced with payment method or something? What about visa gift cards? Ok, I’m overthinking it I’m sure.

    #139 4 months ago
    Quoted from Crans:

    Recently a gentleman posted in FB that somone duped them out of 5k and a pinball machine. Getting all the details shows it was a scam and buyer got taken for a ride.
    Don't trust a Facebook store as anyone can set them up. Glaring details might not be obvious when your excited about your purchase, as time progresses they will probably find the faults and make it less likely to detect.
    PayPal funding for any large purchase should be put on a real CC and not your bank account / ATM, you can even use a real CC as source for friends and family transactions and even venmo.
    Good luck fellow collectors and buy safe.
    [quoted image][quoted image][quoted image]

    I don't mean to be insensitive but... why did he keep doing this? Has anyone bought a pinball game with an Amazon gift card?

    There's such a "I have to get these games or they'll disappear forever" combined with "I don't want to tell anyone I'm getting a great deal because they might steal it" in this hobby that I feel prevents people from asking for help, or at least getting a second set of eyes on a transaction like this. Sad.

    #140 4 months ago
    Quoted from Crans:

    Recently a gentleman posted in FB that somone duped them out of 5k and a pinball machine. Getting all the details shows it was a scam and buyer got taken for a ride.
    Don't trust a Facebook store as anyone can set them up. Glaring details might not be obvious when your excited about your purchase, as time progresses they will probably find the faults and make it less likely to detect.
    PayPal funding for any large purchase should be put on a real CC and not your bank account / ATM, you can even use a real CC as source for friends and family transactions and even venmo.
    Good luck fellow collectors and buy safe.
    [quoted image][quoted image][quoted image]

    Holy shit he really paid with bitcoin? That’s ridiculous. How do people get duped so badly??
    The second someone is asking for bitcoin they better have overwhelming proof to be genuine and have a lot of reputation and good REASON to accept Bitcoin.
    If I wasn’t a die-hard HODLer I’d probably pay Pinside with BTC.

    Topic related:
    AUTO-SAVED DRAFTS
    GOD BLESS YOU ROBIN THANK YOU SO MUCH.

    I have been typing things many times on mobile, left the tab to search information and came back only to have my Pinside Tab reload automatically and delete my reply. It was KILLING ME. Paragraphs and paragraphs GONE.

    This is truly my favorite update of all time right now.

    1 week later
    #141 4 months ago

    It is a fraud, well made but it is one, no you cannot buy a Potc LE for 6K:
    flipperpinball.eu
    thanks god I locked my visa card asap I realized my mistake. in less than an hour my card number was sold an purchase were tried in spain, uk and germany

    #142 4 months ago
    Quoted from mrm_4:

    1 Aeropost Way, SCL-6141
    Miami, FL 33206-3206
    United States
    Anyone ever ship to this address? Pinsider just tried to buy from me. Refused to use friends and family said can only send a services payment. Gave this address which pulls a bunch of scams and gave a phone number linked to businesses with the same address but different P.O. Box number.
    I just refunded the money. Too many flags.

    interesting. that's a freight forward company. they ship overseas.

    might have been OK, might not have been. depends on the verified address done thru paypal.

    refund was smart, for the safety. but, who knows?

    i work at a shop, where an "overseas" buyer purchased a game. we palletized it, and DHL literally came and picked it up.

    i wasn't there when the machine was picked up, so i can't say white van or legit DHL truck.

    2 days later, the buyer claims no one picked up the game. DHL contacted, they claim they did not pickup the machine on the date given.

    well, the owner of our shop is very good at this. he contacts DHL, talks to management, drops certain lingo, and they magically "locate the game" later that day.

    it was a bad attempt with at least 2 people that work at DHL, to attempt to steal a $5500 machine.

    i take pics of license plates if there's no cash or check in my hands when a machine leaves.

    trust...nobody. i have 40+ fake checks on my wall, if you don't believe me (craigslist is a scammers playground). wasting their time is not a job. it's an adventure.

    i've even received texts, and reverse search to find the pics come from pinside...it's too easy to hide behind a keyboard.

    checks (resized).jpgpinside funhouse (resized).JPG
    #144 4 months ago
    Quoted from youdontknowme:

    i have 40+ fake checks on my wall, if you don't believe me (craigslist is a scammers playground).

    Wait, does that one check actually say Anita BananaHammock?

    #145 4 months ago
    Quoted from ZappaMan:

    AXM Pinball site is no longer available..just as well, at least they wont be trying to scam anyone..probably start up another one with a different name knowing these types.
    [quoted image]

    New to Pinside and just catching up on all of this. Thanks to everyone that has helped compile tips.
    FYI - the AXM site is back up. I wonder how these sites could be taken down permanently?

    #146 4 months ago

    They come at you from all over the place anymore.

    While ago I had one that looked to be from Amazon about my seller account.

    I almost fell for it.

    The thing that clued me in was "click on this link to update your business address".

    A REAL email from anyone you do business with should not have any link to have to click on, instead it should have instructions about logging into your account, and then clicking so and so.

    Scammers are getting more and more tricky, so never rush into anything if you have any doubts at all.

    (that one looked real enough that I opened it and looked at it, but did not click any link. most of the time I can tell they are fake without ever opening them).

    Oh, and never use a debit card (I have never had one), always use a credit card, you have a whole lot more protection with a credit card.

    #147 4 months ago
    Quoted from justyn:

    I wonder how these sites could be taken down permanently?

    You can report it to their hosting provider. You'll probably need to do a reverse IP lookup to see what company is registered for the IP address to find out who that might be.

    Then *if* the hosting provider is responsive and takes the site down, the scammer will just set it up again somewhere else.

    You can also try reporting it to the domain's registrar. Again, no guarantee they would be responsive.

    #148 4 months ago
    Quoted from etien:

    It is a fraud, well made but it is one, no you cannot buy a Potc LE for 6K:
    flipperpinball.eu
    thanks god I locked my visa card asap I realized my mistake. in less than an hour my card number was sold an purchase were tried in spain, uk and germany

    This reminds me of pinballmaskiner.com

    Located in Belarus!

    #150 4 months ago

    Thank you for this warning but can you also add that it's recommended to meet at a local police station for big cash transactions to prevent fraud. You can ask a Police officer to supervise, I'm sure they wouldn't mind even to plug in extension cord outside and play pinball. Some Police can also be hired $20 hr to be your bodyguard for a couple hours. Just walk in and ask.

    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.

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