Due to the recent influx of posts claiming "scammer", I've decided this was a necessary news bulletin.
I receive several requests per month from people asking me to help them track down someone who has successfully scammed them via eBay, online instrument marketplaces, etc. While I'm more than happy to help out, I won't if you haven't protected yourself as much as you could have. Go through this check list every time you trade, buy, or sell online.
* Run a quick background check on the buyer/seller. Ask for a name, a phone number, or an address to be able to better contact them. And then, look up the number. Whether you get a home phone number, a work number, a cell phone, an address, etc., you must verify the information. Call them. If you think they gave you a cell phone number, verify it at FoneFinder. This will tell you what city they're in, as well as if it's a land line or a cell phone number. Reverse the phone numbers and addresses the person gives you to see where they go. The Argali program is very good for this, as you can reverse address or phone number.
* If you think the address given is a mail drop, then you can verify it here.
* If you want to find out who owns the address they give you to send payment, you can go to several public records databases. I'm a proponent of PROD and ZabaSearch. However, this is only viable if the person is in the United States of America.
* Furthermore, ask for references from other people that have done business with the person. If I'm spending $3,000 for a bass guitar (after all, I am a musician), I want to know if the person is honest or not. Make sure the info the person gives you checks out before you give up any of your cash.
And know: An honest seller will not be offended when you ask them for information. After all, what have they got to hide?