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Scam victims warn cyclists of component and groupset deals on Facebook Marketplace

Reports of scams targeting cyclists looking for savings online have re-emerged, with some losing hundreds of pounds

Cyclists have once again raised the alarm about scammers using component and groupset deals to take large sums of money from unsuspecting victims shopping online for a good deal.

We have reported on a range of scams in recent times, from fake bike websites pretending to be brands such as Giant, Shimano and SRAM, through to counterfeit components being sold on online marketplaces, both seemingly more common during the bike industry's supply chain struggles as criminals exploited limited availability and increased demand.

Now, a forum page warning of Facebook Marketplace groupset scams, and which has been highlighting the issue since May 2022, has seen another report. reader sjamesorr said they had found the forum thread while "going through something similar with the same scammer".

As with other cases the scammers used a profile, often using a stolen identity, before accepting payment for cycling components or a groupset via PayPal's friends and family service rather than paying for an item or service, sometimes under the guise of avoiding fees, but ultimately to ensure payments are not covered by PayPal's Purchase Protection.

"I have just come across this and going through something similar with the same scammer!" the reader said last week. "Even sent me a picture of his passport to confirm the identity and prove that he was a legitimate seller. Asked me to pay into his 'wife's' account. I stupidly did."

> How can you spot counterfeit bike components and avoid getting ripped off? We spoke to Shimano to find out

Other reports on the forum suggest that other cyclists have been duped into transferring money to scammers for components or groupsets, one reader believing they were purchasing Dura Ace Di2 parts from a Gary Thwaite who "it later transpired was a decent guy and his identity had been stolen".

"I actually tracked him down and chatted on the phone he said other people had contacted him about similar," one reader said.

Another reader thought they had paid for some Fox38 MTB forks, while someone else was scammed £460 for an Ultegra groupset. Those posts were made over a year ago, the latest reports of the Facebook Marketplace scam re-emerging in the past week.

> Bike shortage sees scammers target shoppers with fake websites

The original forum poster told their story in May 2022, saying they "would like to make people aware of a scam that seems to be doing the rounds on Facebook Marketplace".

"Like an absolute d***head I payed via PayPal using friends and family," they wrote. "And before any clever and helpful trolls call me an idiot…..I ALREADY KNOW!!!!

"Anyway, the parts in question were Dura Ace Di2 and the scammer went by the name of 'Gary Thwaite' it later transpired that Gary was a decent guy and his identity had been stolen (I actually tracked him down and chatted on the phone) he said other people had contacted him about similar. I believe that this is linked to other fake accounts with names such as Jerry Howard and Jack Byrne.

"How did I stupidly get sucked in you ask? Well the scammer originally was saying that I could collect. It was only when I looked at travel distance I suggested postage. We agreed a price and he suggested I pay with PayPal friends and family to save on fees (I know, I know!) I said I wasn't comfortable, he then sent me his address and his business card which checked out. This coupled with the fact that he'd previously okayed a physical pick up…..led me to take a calculated risk with the payment. Fail. Excuses ensued until the messages were dropped completely."

This reader was fortunately able to get the money back after "a lot of noise with the ombudsman and local MP" but only after "months as opposed to weeks".

> Beware! More fake bike websites trying to scam you

PayPal allows users to send personal payments to friends and family, called "sending to a friend" on the platform, for the "everyday exchange of money". However, unlike when "paying for an item or service", personal payments are not covered by PayPal Purchase Protection but also do not require the seller to pay a fee.

Another reader on the forum advises: "I used to lurk around a lot. Most sellers/buyers on there used to use PPF&F (PayPal Family and Friends) all the time. I must have bought and sold thousands of pounds worth of kit using it.

"The key thing to remember is that you can pay the fees yourself. So respond to the seller saying that and see what they do. The phrase on retrobike was always 'PP Friends and family or you pay the fees'."

Another added: "Just think of PP F&F as posting someone an envelope full of cash, except then you could at least know the address you posted it to if it was worth reporting to the police."

Dan joined in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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Jem PT | 2 months ago

Or only pay using a cc, that way you're protected. Like I was when the hiking gear that I bought on Marketplace that seemed too cheap to be true never turned up.

don simon fbpe | 2 months ago
1 like

There's nothing wrong with Marketplace, there's nothing wrong with Paypal. But if you get scammed because you want to save a few quid, take full responsibility.

Smoggysteve replied to don simon fbpe | 2 months ago

eBay will offer you protection if you don't get what you paid for. Marketplace is the wild west. My other issue with it, is how it feeds the bike theft problem. A bike is so easily broken up and sold online. A whole groupset or a set of wheels are impossbile to trace back to the original owner. eBay might not be much better in that respect but its a little more legit.

grOg | 2 months ago

The chance I would purchase high value second-hand bike parts on facebook marketplace or similar is zero and not just because of the risk of scams; my main concern is the likelihood of buying stolen goods; no thanks.

Boopop | 2 months ago

I bought a Tailfin Aeropack on facebook for delivery over the past 6 months. I insisted on paying using sales and services. He seemed genuine but you can never be too safe with such things. Turned up as described  1

If you try to buy items for delivery on fb marketplace, offer to pay the £10-20 or whatever difference it is by going for a sales/services transaction. If they refuse (what difference does it make to them? They're getting the same or slightly more money!), run for the hills!

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