Shakma - a local scam
One of the most considered local scams to hit TradeMe took place when a South African born scammer (trading name "Shakma") built up a good feedback record over several months, buying small items and selling the odd Zippo lighter.
In February 2004 he listed 90 auctions in the same week.
There were laptop computers, top-end cellphones, radar detectors, digital cameras, DVD players… and he listed them all with just a one dollar reserve. The auctions went off, attracting hundreds of bidders.
The ScamBusters noticed that the mix of goods was unusual for a single trader and that Shakma's selling was way out of character with his previous trading record. Shakma claimed on the message board that the goods were in China where his brother had bought a load of excess stock. He wanted payment within 3 days and would deliver within 2 weeks. That is against TradeMe's rules - you're not allowed to auction goods that aren't in your possession.
He was offering "international warranties" on Sony equipment. The ScamBusters contacted Sony who denied this. Shakma claimed that the warranties on other goods were covered by an Auckland electronics company who also denied any involvement with the man. The ScamBusters emailed TradeMe manager Nigel Stanford to express their concerns. He replied that the company had looked into shakma and "everything seems to check out."
Sixty auctions ran to completion before TradeMe finally disabled Shakma, just one day before his last 30 auctions were to end. There was speculation that TradeMe only took this action because the fraudster couldn't pay the fifteen hundred dollars in success fees he owed to the company.
To their credit TradeMe sent emails to all of the successful bidders, urging them to use their SafeTrader service for these trades. Unfortunately it took several days for them to do this. Most of the victims had followed the terms of his auctions and paid within three days.
Lots of bidders - most of them new traders. We've
removed their names to prevent embarrasment
Shakma cleared his bank account and fled to South Africa. Gullible victims had paid almost $21,000 to the scammer - only four of them had used the SafeTrader service.
Spotting a Local Scam
Unfortunately this has become more difficult since TradeMe actively discourages any mention of the word "scam" on their message boards. Do check the seller's feedback and use your common sense. If you are in any doubt about the authenticity of an auction, please don't bid!
If you spot a scam please report it to TradeMe via the Community Watch link at the bottom of every auction page.
You can openly discuss potential or suspected scams on our forums.
Main Scams page
SafeTrader (TradeMe's escrow service)