We received this useful email from a reader, so we are passing on his tip to aid others:
Thanks for your warning regarding the cheque/shipper scam that currently operates. 1 day after placing my ad with you I received this mail which was then followed by the exact pattern you laid out. Having recognised it I contacted the MET as my local Police force and it turns out that there is some limited action that they can take to at least have the fraudsters e-mail account closed down (I realise this is small, but every little helps)
Potential victims need to obtain a reply e-mail directly from the 'buyer' (rather than through your site) and then forward that message with the internet headers pasted in to this address - firstname.lastname@example.org
. Below is an excerpt from the e-mail I got from the MET.
'To find the Internet Headers you need to look on the original e-mail that was sent to you. I have attached a Web link which explains how to find them. http://www.johnru.com/active-whois/trace-email.html
or if using a Macintosh http://www.mind.net/hpage/omacheader.html
Once you have found the Internet Headers you need to copy and then paste this information into your message to us. This then enables us to trace the origin of messages and then if possible close the Website or E-mail account down.
Please note that without this information there is little we can do to help stop this situation being repeated again and again.'
On no account should a suspicious seller give out home address details (even if they really want to see a fraudulent cheque) as this could lead to burglary and their goods disappearing.
I hope that this info can be passed on so that as many of these fraudsters can be stopped, or at least hindered, as possible.