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Buying or selling a bike online? Beware of scams
Sep. 19 – The Internet sure makes it a lot easier to buy or sell a motorcycle. Unfortunately, it also makes it easier for people to rip you off.

Want to avoid the nasty prospect of losing several thousand dollars or more in an on-line transaction? Here's a look at a couple of new scams we've heard about at the AMA that seem to be growing in popularity.

As always, the rule is simple: Buyer (or seller) beware. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Here are two of the latest scams:

You list your motorcycle for sale on the Internet. A buyer offers to pay you the full asking price for your motorcycle, with a generous amount over that to cover the cost of shipping it to Europe, Africa or another overseas location. The buyer demands that the motorcycle be shipped immediately, but in exchange, he agrees to pay the full amount up front with a cashiers check.

The problem is that the cashiers check turns out to be a forgery. And there’s probably no way for you to know that until the bike is already long gone.

Your local bank may tell you that it will put a hold of about five days on funds from a foreign check. But even if you wait till the end of that period before shipping the bike, that doesn’t mean the check is good. In fact, it can take weeks for a foreign check to clear, and when it bounces, you lose.

The bottom line here is simple: Be careful when you’re selling your bike to anyone—and especially careful with an overseas purchase that sounds too good to be true.

A number of concerned members have contacted us about a scam involving motorcycles posted to classified and auction sites at too-good-to-be-true prices.

In this scam, the seller often claims to be living in Europe, while the bike is in the states. The seller then asks for payment to be deposited with an on-line escrow company while the bike is shipped.

Ideally, the escrow company would hold the funds until the buyer has received the bike and approved the transfer.

The problem is the on-line escrow company is part of the scam. Once money is deposited—often by Western Union or other wire service at the behest of the seller, the seller and the escrow company vanish, leaving the buyer with nothing.

Again, if the deal is unbelievably good, it may just be too good to be true.
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