You can sidestep would-be scammers by following these common-sense rules:
- DEAL LOCALLY WITH FOLKS YOU CAN MEET IN PERSON - follow this one simple rule and you will avoid 99% of the scam attempts on Muslim Backyard.
- NEVER WIRE FUNDS VIA WESTERN UNION, MONEYGRAM or any other wire service - anyone who asks you to do so is a scammer.
- FAKE CASHIER CHECKS & MONEY ORDERS ARE COMMON, and BANKS WILL CASH THEM AND THEN HOLD YOU RESPONSIBLE when the fake is discovered weeks later.
- MUSLIM BACKYARD IS NOT INVOLVED IN ANY TRANSACTION, and does not handle payments, guarantee transactions, provide escrow services, or offer "buyer protection" or "seller certification"
- NEVER GIVE OUT FINANCIAL INFORMATION (bank account number, social security number, eBay/PayPal info, etc.)
- AVOID DEALS INVOLVING SHIPPING OR ESCROW SERVICES and know that ONLY A SCAMMER WILL "GUARANTEE" YOUR TRANSACTION.
Who should I notify about fraud or scam attempts?
- New! FTC Video: How to report scams to the FTC
- FTC toll free hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357)
- FTC online complaint form
- Canadian Phone Busters hotline: 888-495-8501
- Competition Bureau Canada: 800-348-5358
- Internet Fraud Complaint Center
- Software Piracy ( http://www.siia.net/piracy/report/)
- Non-emergency number for your local police department.
If you suspect that an item posted for sale on Muslim Backyard may be part of a scam, please email the details to "abuse@MuslimBackyard.com".
Most scams involve one or more of the following:
- inquiry from someone far away, often in another country
- Western Union, Money Gram, cashier's check, money order, shipping, escrow service, or a "guarantee"
- inability or refusal to meet face-to-face before consumating transaction
Examples of Scams
1. Someone claims that Muslim Backyard will guarantee a transaction, certify a buyer/seller, OR claims that Muslim Backyard will handle or provide protection for a payment.
- These claims are fraudulent, as Muslim Backyard does not have any role in any transaction.
- Scammer will often send an official looking email that appears to come from Muslim Backyard, offering a guarantee, certifying a seller, providing payment services -- all such emails are fakes!
2. Distant person offers a genuine-looking (but fake) cashier's check
- you receive an email (examples below) offering to buy your item, or rent your apartment, sight unseen.
- cashier's check is offered for your sale item, as a deposit for an apartment, or for your services.
- value of cashier's check often far exceeds your item - scammer offers to "trust" you, and asks you to wire the balance via money transfer service
- banks will often cash these fake checks AND THEN HOLD YOU RESPONSIBLE WHEN THE CHECK FAILS TO CLEAR, including criminal prosecution in some cases!
- scam often involves a 3rd party (shipping agent, business associate owing buyer money, etc)
3. Someone requests wire service payment via Western Union or MoneyGram:
- Scam "bait" items include apartments, laptops, TVs, cell phones, tickets, and other high value items
- Often claim that an MTCN or confirmation code is needed before he can withdraw your money - this is FALSE, once you've wired money, it is GONE.
- Common countries currently include: Nigeria, Romania, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Spain, Italy, Netherlands - but could be anywhere
- Apartment listing may be local, but landlord/owner is "travelling" or "relocating" and needs you to wire money to them abroad
- Deal often seems too good to be true, price is too low, rent is below market, etc
4. Distant person offers to send you a money order and then have you wire money:
- this is ALWAYS a scam, in our experience - the cashier's check is FAKE
- sometimes accompanies an offer of merchandise, sometimes not
- scammer often asks for your name, address, etc for printing on the fake check
- deal often seems too good to be true
5. Distant seller suggests use of an online escrow service.
- most online escrow sites are FRAUDULENT, operated by scammers
- for more info, do a google search on "fake escrow" or "escrow fraud"
6. Distant seller asks for a partial payment upfront, after which he will ship goods
- he says he trusts you with the partial payment
- he may say he has already shipped the goods
- deal often sounds too good to be true
7. Foreign company offers you a job receiving payments from customers, then wiring funds
- foreign company may claim it is unable to receive payments from its customers directly
- you are typically offered a percentage of payments received
- this kind of "position" may be posted as a job, or offered to you via email
The overwhelming majority of Muslim Backyard users are trustworthy and well-intentioned.
With billions of human interactions facilitated through Muslim Backyard, the incidence of violent crime has been extremely low.
Nevertheless, it's very important to take the same common sense precautions online as you would offline.
When meeting someone for the first time, please remember to:
- Insist on a public meeting place like a cafe
- Do not meet in a secluded place, or invite strangers into your home
- Be especially careful when buying/selling high value items
- Tell a friend or family member where you're going
- Take your cell phone along if you have one
- Consider having a friend accompany you
- Trust your instincts
Taking these simple precautions helps make Muslim Backyard safer for everyone.
For more information about personal safety online, check out these resources: