Beware: Fraudulent Ads from Zero Feedback guys

I wish to share my experience of just two days ago (June 16, 2013) concerning 3 different audiogon ads placed by a new zero feedback member from UK which turned out to be 3 bogus sales and on which Audiogon acted very swiftly after my complaint and had them delisted.

The first ad was for a Jorma Prime power cord (retailing some $6,000) advertised for only $1,000 almost brand new, with a certain serial no, and Jorma suitcase. Four photos were inserted in the ad including one showing very clearly the serial number and the jorma carry case. I got extremely interested in it and sent the seller a request through Audiogon system to provide the fol: (a) whether he was the original owner and if so a copy of his original invoice; (b) a fresh photo of the cables dated that very day and taken from a different angle from the photos already inserted; (c) his name, address and tel no of so that i could phone him to verify. He never replied.

I also noted, after some research on internet, that the post code he gave (GU11 5RT) doesn't exist in UK. Finally, through my own research on Jorma ads on the internet, I discovered that the same cables with the same serial no and the same set of photos were simultaneously put on sale by a well respected dutch based dealer on the german audio market ( at three times the price advertised on Audiogon by the so-called UK based guy.

I immediately reported the matter to Audiogon who, I must say, very quickly got back to me and requested that I end all correspondence with that seller and that the Audiogon fraud investigation team were already in action. A few minutes later, I received another message from Audiogon that the ad had been suspended.

The worrying thing is that along with the Jorma Prime ad, the guy had 2 other ads (all almost brand new products, boxed and with photos looking as good as new) at ridiculously low prices. One of these was for a Naim DAC & Power supply, which he had advertised for around $1,000 compared to over $5,000 new, and a similar one was sold on Audiogon for $3,000 only a few weeks ago.

Unfortunately i noted with sadness that the UK based guy suceeded in selling his bogus Naim item within minutes of putting up his ads as I could read on the add "Listing Expired - Item Sold". So a fellow member must have fallen into the trap. I can only hope that Audiogon and his paypal (if he used it) act swiftly to prevent that fellow member losing his hard earned cash.

To sum it all, we need to be extremely cautious when dealing with zero feedback advertisers (precaution is always better than cure), be extremely suspicious of ridiculously low prices advertised for high end products, do not hesistate to ask the seller for more info, tel no etc.., do some research on internet concerning the product advertised and if still in doubt, seek Audiogon's help.

A word to the wise..
A price too good to be true should also be a red flag.
I would never deal with zero or low feedback unless they send the item to me and I pay when I receive it or pick up in person.
I've also noticed some "too good" adds from 0 feedback sellers recently. The internet and instant money transfers have made an ideal environment for scammers.

One way to help determine if the seller at least has the gear that is for sale is to ask him/her to take and send you pictures of the gear that you request. An example could be a picture of the speakers with the grille off the one on the left, etc.
I would never deal with zero or low feedback unless they send the item to me and I pay when I receive it or pick up in person.

Didn't we all start with zero feedback?
This is really disheartening.
I request a phone number and call to chat for two minutes.
I have also requested a copy of the sellers Drivers Licence for big ticket items. Nothing can stop a dedicated professional scammer, but let's make it a little harder for them. Never send Western Union too.

And if somone pays with Pay Pal and does a pick up, you can be screwed. Paypal requires sellers ship to confirmed address and have an internet verifiable tracking number, if not they will reverese the payment.
Do has you like ..I myself like to remain cautious.
Yes, we all started with zero feedback; but an excellent way to build solid online rep is by being a good buyer in a few transactions ... showing a willingness to part with one's own hard-earned cash BEFORE asking someone else to part with theirs.
I agree with Weiserb, I want to see a drivers license. And address should match. That is not too much to ask for an expensive transaction.
I hate con artists, thieves, and others of the same ilk.
Wait, Columbo I'm new here and a little slow. So what yer sayin' is that when someone has an ad that ships from another country, a country where their zip code or whatever doesn't exist, and they have no feedback and the price is too good to be true, that it might be a good idea to have them take a picture holding up today's Tehran Times, or whatever, right next to that pair of Tidal Sunrays that they are going to absorb the shipping cost on, so that you can be sure that no folderol is going on. Works for me, I just need to bone up on my Farsi.
No Viridian, that's not what I said. So yes you must be a little slow. It's not necessarily a permanent condition though. With a little effort you can get up to speed.
Tommy, right you are. My mistake, a little slow like you said, "An example could be a picture of the speakers with the grille off the one on the left, etc."

Thanks fer schoolin' me Tommy. No need to hassle the nice international seller with the local newspaper. Just a few pix and we're good to go. Much appreciated, I was worried about those Farsi lessons.
Good suggestion you make, that's exactly what I did by asking the guy to take a new dated photo of the Jorma carry case showing clearly the wordings 'Jorma Unity" written on it. And that did the trick I guess- he remained silent
May I add that selling to a "zero feedback" member and buying from a "zero feedback" member are two different things. Am Ok selling to such persons as long as payment is made to my bank account or cash on delivery, but selling to this category is a definite risk and we need to exercise extreme caution.

I am not against the idea that "zero feedback" members would benefit by accumulating some +ve feedbacks through purchases before resorting to selling.
I believe Audiogon should be taking a hand in policing some of the fraudulent ads and taking more action to make sure these scammers don't list here. As buyers we have responsibility too with our own due dilligence but Audiogon to me needs to step up more. Maybe with big dollar listings more credentials/verification is required?

Regarding the zero feedback situation. I believe that when one is starting out here with zero feedback and selling their wares that person needs to go the extra mile with their listings and being professional about it. No one line description listing with a stock or crummy picture.

When I started out I tried to be as descriptive as possible without going overboard. I used all the free pictures that were available with the listing. I didn't use stock pictures and I took my own. I had seller feedback from other sites and mentioned them. I then reiterated that while I may be new to Audiogon I would be professional in my transactions in the listing.

When I was buying items and had zero feedback there were times I would send a message to the seller conveying my seriousness in purchasing the item and that I would pay promptly. I made sure they knew that I was a professional and was going to follow through. I would try to assuage any fears they had in transacting with a newbie.

One other thing. I feel the feedback system is still a bit clumsy even with the improvements made. You still have to be very diligent in leaving feedback on a transaction. If you had a good transaction with a new lister on Audiogon be sure to leave them positive feedback.
Actually I have seen several suspicious (turned out to be fraudulent) ads from sellers with good feedback. Turns out that the original members' audiogon accounts were hacked and the ad put under their account to take advantage of the feedback. The lesson is that this kind of fraudulent ad does not necessarily have to be from an account with zero feedback. It is best to exercise due diligence while buying and not just blindly trust an ad from someone with good feedback.
Hi Apdoc2004

What were the characteristics of those fraudulent ads from sellers with good feedback? Was it bad English in the ads or something in the title of the ad? Some time ago I remember seeing a fraudulent ad from a seller with higher feedback but I don't remember what made me suspicious.

Beware and beware... here they come again, this time from FRANCE..
Well yesterday, i came across (on Audiogon once more) a new zero feedback member advertising 3 products and again at ridiculously low prices. All three ads were freshly inserted. The writing language, style and advertisement structure and payment modes etc. were almost identical to the 3 ads from UK.

One of the ads from France was for a 1.5m pair of an almost brand new Stealth Metacarbon 2, interconnect XLR, advertised for $1,000 together with a very blurred photo of a certificate of authenticity.

I requested for a better, closer range picture of the certificate and further asked where exactly in France the product was located (i have previously lived in France so quite well acquainted with the regions)....

No replies, but my magic or coincidence .....all three ads disappeared from Audiogon system ... possibly to attack again through a different country listing..

In view of the repeats, I believe Audiogon should put on hold all sell ads from newly joined members and also those with zero feedbacks until a proper investigation, screening and proof of genuineness is established by Audiogon team.

Typically what gives them away is the very brief description (no mention of the ownership history), absurdly low price asked for the product (which is usually worth much more in the used market) and payment options being restricted to Money Order and Personal check.
Well said Apdoc2004. It appears that you have come across quite a number of fraudulent ads .. If this thing is not regulated soon, our beloved site runs the risk of losing interest from potential buyers. But let's trust Audiogon sorts this out soonest possible and starts screening the newbies..
"I believe Audiogon should put on hold all sell ads from newly joined members and also those with zero feedbacks until a proper investigation, screening and proof of genuineness is established by Audiogon team.”

I’m not a lawyer but I suspect that Audiogon would be reluctant to assume, even minimal, responsibility for validating classifieds. I think that could make them liable.
We are always vulnerable to fraud. Even an established Account is no good. I had my E-bay A/C hijacked by a fraudster a few years ago, by using a virus to find my password. He put about $500000 on for 3 day sale within a few hours, nearly new Audi's, BMWs.

However careful you are, you can be caught out. You just have to be as careful as you can. Now were was that Ad from the nice Prince in nigeria, who just needs $10,000, to get access to a half a million in diamonds. He promised I could have half, my lucky day.