Scam Alert

Most folks, by now, know to be suspicious of this kind of thing.  My wife is looking at buying a high-end sewing machine (e.g. a Bernina).  Apparently, these machines along with high-end bikes are a hotbed for scam artists.  The story is almost always the same - I had to leave the country suddenly, and am selling my machine which I left with an escrow company in the US.

Example 1, person supposedly in Italy

Example 2, person supposedly in Spain

Both suggested escrow companies, but in both cases the escrow companies smelled bad.  Here was one example link the "seller" sent us.  This is unbelievably sketchy, merely a forum web post rather than an actual web site.  Google searches quickly demolished the credibility of the escrow suggestions, and when we suggested an escrow company we knew to be legit, emails from the sellers ended.


  1. JBurns:

    Yes, this is very, very common on Craigslist. If you ask them to send any type of photograph or any other evidence that the goods exist, they'll say it's already with the shipper, and on and on. Sometimes you'll also get a promise to use the eBay safebuyer program (or whatever it's called). But that only applies if you actually buy through eBay (they'll tell you that's not the case). Put simply, if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

  2. Don:

    And Tractors. Saw four or five of these a few years back when shopping for tractors. Always the big names (JD or Massey), always the most desirable models (usually in the 80 HP range), and always for ridiculously low prices (e.g. 80HP JD w/ Front-end loader $5000).

    I think they count on people wish sticker shock jumping on the opportunity without research (or else, people buying a name and not know how unbelievable - literally - the price is).

  3. raja_r:

    And cars. Typically high end cars like BMW, Mercedes.

    In these cases, they want $800 to $1500 so they can ship the car to you for a test drive.

  4. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States:


    "419" is the section of the Nigerian criminal code which involves con jobs.

    Here's a classic: THE CHURCH OF BREAD AND WINE

    I can't find the best one, where they claimed to be Gillian Anderson, then her brother, Neo...

    You might want to post some of this stuff up on their forum and see if they've ever scambaited them.

    If you look around, it's not just Nigerian scammers they nail... pretty much any scammers anywhere.


  5. perlhaqr:

    Hunh, I would not have guessed that. But I guess it makes sense. All the people I've known with Bernina equipment have either been professionals or old ladies who weren't very internet savvy.

    And the ads (without knowing legitimate prices for the objects detailed) don't look particularly scammy, either.

  6. Ian Random:

    Simple ask for a picture of the seller with the machine and a picture of the seller holding a toaster.

  7. blokeinfrance:

    We're going to hell in a handcart if we start expecting everyone to be a crook. Warren, you rent campgrounds which people see only in pictures on the web. I rent apartments in London and Chamonix Mont Blanc which people only see on the web.
    Customers happy so far...
    That may be the issue: whether reputation matters, whether repeat business matters. Happily, if you get neither you go bust.

  8. Eric H:

    May I suggest that the real Bernina marketing plan is, well, not a scam, but also not a good value? My mom has one, it's a great way to signal "I like to sew", or "My husband loves me: look how much money we spent on a sewing machine!"

    A much better value for the money would be a true industrial machine. A Juki, Adler, Siruba, etc., should all be included in your search space. The results are superior, they are built to be low maintenance, the price is usually lower than the Bernina, and they come with a good table.