I have been looking for a used Mercedes Benz engine, and placed an ad on Gumtree. I received a call from a "Mike Sanders" from "NM Auto Parts" in Johannesburg who claimed to have an engine perfectly suited to what I wanted. He emailed me photos from email@example.com, and they were really well taken and very detailed. He said he would contact me after the weekend after he had found out from his "dispatch department" when they would be coming down to Durban again.
On the Monday he phoned me to say that he would invoice me, but that I could just pay a ten or fifteen deposit, and pay the balance once I was satisfied with the engine, and had got it running (red flag !!!!!).
I then asked for his physical address so that my son could go and have a look at the car and the engine specifically.
And this is when Mike stopped all communication with me....no emails, and no answering his cellphone (079 708 8923).
Luckily I never paid over any money, but afterwards the red flags were quite obvious:
1. I had tried to find "NM Auto Parts" on the web, but no mention of it anywhere.
2. The email address is not what you would expect ie it is firstname.lastname@example.org and should rather be email@example.com or something similar
3. The price of the engine was too good to be true (R24000 as opposed to about R30000 plus at other dealers)
4. The fact that he was prepared to let me only pay a deposit, and not the full price, is simply not how people operate.....nobody lets something this costly out of their hands on trust, to someone you have never met before, and lives 600 km away !
His ploy of trying to get me to pay over a "small deposit" is very clever....it would make most people think that this guy is trusting me, so why shouldn't I trust him ?!?
"Mike" is quite well-spoken, and very respectful, calling me "sir" and thanking me at every opportunity.
So be warned of "Mike" and his very persuasive little scam....but he probably has many aliases, and has anything and everything for sale, from car parts to holiday accommodation !