I have been maintaining the Online Trombone Journal Classifieds since 1997 and have seen just about every scam out there. There are some tell-tail signs:
1. They ask for payment by Western Union, or they want to pay you with Certified Check or Cashier's Check. Sadly USPS Money Orders have also become suspect - far too many counterfeits out there.
2. The e-mail just doesn't sound right - they really have no knowledge of what they're trying to buy or sell. When you ask for details, they answer with vague, non-specific information.
3. The terms are strange, particularly "I was buying from someone else, would you please take the cashier's check and send me back the overpayment by Western Union."
The short version: if they want to use Western Union for payment, nope-nope-nope. Once you send money through Western Union, it is GONE. No refunds, no recourse - Western Union doesn't care - they get their cut no matter what.
If the buyer/seller isn't willing to do business via PayPal and want to send a check, make sure it is drawn on a major bank that serves your area so you can take it to a branch and cash it. Otherwise, hold shipment for 14 days to allow for clearance of the check.
Get phone numbers and references if you're nervous about the transaction - the trombone world is small enough that you should probably know a friend of a friend that can vouch for the buyer/seller.
And, unfortunately, if the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
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