Selling goods online

If you are trying to sell goods online or through the classifieds, SCAMwatch is warning you to be on the lookout for requests from potential buyers asking you to pay for upfront fees and charges.

This scam commonly targets individuals selling large and expensive items, such as a motor vehicle. However, this scam can potentially target any individual selling goods through the internet or classifieds.

How does the scam work?

SCAMwatch has received numerous complaints from sellers where the scammer posing as an interested buyer makes excuses for their inability to pay for various upfront fees.

The scammer will ask you to pay for 'shipping' and/or other transport costs to their 'agent' via wire transfer which they promise to repay. Scammers may also ask for additional fees such as insurance.

The scammer will go to great lengths to convince you that their request is genuine.

You will receive a fake email from what appears to be a reputable company that offers money transfer or payment services to 'confirm' that they have received payment from the buyer for the total cost (cost of the item and various upfront fees). The email will also state that in order to obtain this total payment, you must pay for the transportation costs and/or other charges.

It should also be noted that once you pay for various upfront fees, it is often difficult or impossible to contact or trace the supposed buyer. 

You will not receive payment for the advertised goods and also lose the amount sent for various upfront fees! 

Protect yourself

  • If you receive a ‘confirmation’ email from what appears to be a reputable company that offers money transfer or payment services, give them a call. Do not rely on the contact details provided in the ‘confirmation’ email; find the company’s details through their official website.
  • If it sounds suspicious, do not transfer any money! Never send money to a person or business that you are not totally sure about.
  • Speak to family, friends or the authorities to get a second opinion.
  • Always get independent advice if the offer involves significant money, time or commitment.


Report the matter to the ACCC's Infocentre via the report a scam page on SCAMwatch.

More information

Explore SCAMwatch to find out more about money transfer scams and how you can protect yourself.

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Online shopping scams involve scammers pretending to be legitimate online sellers, either with a fake website or a fake ad on a genuine retailer site.