Being a moderator for three of the largest Facebook groups that serve our industry, I hear the same statements often:
- I just paid “Person X” $15,000 and never received anything!
- This person tried to scam me, but I figured it out. Everyone beware!
What is the difference between the two buyers in each scenario? How did Buyer #1 lose a large amount of money while Buyer #2 “figured it out”? Perhaps the more important question is, “How did Buyer #2 figure it out?”
In a free Facebook group, it is nearly impossible for the admins to police every seller in the group, so the users must protect themselves from getting scammed. This is not a responsibility that a buyer can “pass the buck” on.
Remember, scammers generally have to regularly create new “identities,” so there are certain things that they are not going to invest time in because they know they will not get a return on their time invested. Focus on what these things could be and remember this when communicating with a new seller.
Below are some recommended tactics to ensure that you do not get scammed when working with a new seller. Ideally, you would not seek to add risk to your purchase by buying from someone that is not clearly trustworthy. This is the liquidation business, and it is already risky enough. The best solution is to only do business with sellers that have a great reputation and whom you can trust. If you are thinking of venturing off the “proven path,” here are some suggestions:
Warning Signs That a Seller May Not Be Legitimate
One warning sign alone does not mean that the seller is not legitimate. It simply means that you need to be more cautious in verifying your seller using some of the techniques in the “Verifying Your New Seller” section below.
- The Seller reached out to you in unsolicited direct communication through Facebook Messenger, asking you if you are interested in a certain type of product that you recently commented on in the Facebook groups.
- The seller’s profile fits one or more of the below descriptions:
- The seller’s profile is brand new on Facebook.
- The seller recently joined the Facebook group.
- The seller’s profile does not have a picture of an actual person.
- The seller has very few friends in their profile.
- The seller has many friends that do not fit the same demographic group that the seller appears to be from. (Example: Caucasian 50-year-old male living in South Carolina whose friends are all people who appear to live in Africa or Asia.)
- The seller has other Facebook group members that repeatedly comment in the seller’s posts and talk about how good the product was that they bought and how legitimate this seller is. Honestly, how many times do you see this on a post from a legitimate seller? NEVER!
- The seller only accepts CashApp, Venmo, or some other form of payment that is not normal in the industry. Many will not even accept a wire transfer if you try to pay that way because it requires them to provide you with banking information.
- The seller either dodges or does not directly answer questions about the product. They try to tell you the same information in different ways. This generally means that this is the only information that they read off of someone else’s post.
- The seller is guaranteeing things about an unmanifested load that they should not be able to guarantee.
- The seller can not provide additional pictures of merchandise that they say is in their warehouse.
- The seller provides blurry pictures of merchandise that they state is in their warehouse.
- Certain professional sellers habits are avoided:
- No business online presence.
- Does not ask for a reseller license.
- Does not have an agreement for you to sign.
- Does not send you an official invoice for the purchase.
- The Listed price of the product is way below market rate.
- Listed freight is way below market rate.
- The seller’s profile name is a really weird name (Ex. Billa Clinton).
- The seller is overly formal using words like “sir” or “madam”.
- The seller’s communication uses choppy English.
- The seller has no physical location.
- The seller does not have any reviews on Google.
Verify Your New Seller
With that said, understand that anything can be “gamed” to make someone look legitimate, but if there are multiple warning signs and they cannot prove to you that they are legitimate, WITH SOMETHING THAT IS 100% BELIEVABLE, then it is recommended that you do not proceed.
- Directly ask in the Facebook groups about the seller to get feedback
- Be careful if the same person always shows up and defends them in the replies. They sometimes work in teams or have multiple profiles that they use.
- Ask for business formation paperwork from the IRS or State that the business was formed in and operates in.
- Check Google Reviews to see what other people have said about them. Be cautious if the business is not set up with Google, does not have any reviews, or does not have a great rating.
- Search for activity by that person in Facebook groups and the responses to that activity. Make sure that everything appears to be normal and no one is questioning their loads or legitimacy.
- Ask some questions that you know the answer to and see if they answer them correctly.
- Ask another legitimate buyer or seller what their thoughts are about that supplier.
If a seller passes your vetting process, then you should have the confidence to move forward. However, if you still feel uneasy about them, DO NOT PROCEED. There is always another truckload of product in this industry. There is always another deal. You will not “miss out” on the deal of a lifetime and, honestly, even if you did, it is not the “deals of a lifetime” that will make your business a success or failure. It is repeated good decisions that will make you successful in this industry. Do not take on extra risk!
The last word of advice is: do not think you have found the golden ticket to the “secret supplier.” There are very few “secret suppliers” and if you are just starting out, the chances of you finding one are remote and the chance of you even getting to work with them is even more remote. The chance of a seller with special truck types even wanting to work with you as you are starting out is extremely limited. These contacts take years to build. Do not allow a non-legitimate seller to play on your emotions and convince you otherwise.
For further reading on this topic, please check out our article, Avoiding Risky Payment Methods.
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Building Relationships This business can be very profitable, but it does not come without risks.
As with any start-up business, it takes experience, testing, and adaptation to create success. I hope I have helped prepare you for the beginning stages of your upcoming business venture, and perhaps interested you in developing a relationship with me. If you have additional questions, comments, or just want to chat about the industry, please do not hesitate to reach out to me through our contact page. I am here to help you!