All of us know that Ebay is a cesspool of fake signs but this blight has now hit Facebook Marketplace in a much more deceitful form. I've seen this scam enough times now that it warrants mention here so that all of you are aware of the games going on over on Facebook Marketplace.
This is how the catch and release scam works:
1) The scammer populates about 12 items for sale in Facebook Marketplace in several different Localized Garage Sale/Flea Market groups. This is done across a wide area such as the mid Atlantic region or New England. These are just examples but the scammer could run the con across the country if he can get himself added to enough yard sale groups on Facebook.
2) Of the 12 items, about 3 are pictures of real porcelain signs. This is done to make it seem as if the scammer is just a guy who happens to have a few signs in addition to some other random stuff for sale. The con stage is set very carefully to avoid raising suspicion.
3) The signs are priced at enticing price points but not too low. We already know that our con man does not want to arouse suspicion.
4) The scammer will only ship items, never meet up with you to make a sale.
5) The scammer will only accept payment processing type electronic payments such as CashApp. Once you make a purchase with an app like this, you're done. No recourse at all because it's a simple card transaction processing service and nothing more. This is why he will not use a service like PayPal, who will actually prosecute scam artists like this.
6) Once you negotiate your price, which he always says no to your first offer to add legitimacy to the con, the scammer tells you he will ship out the item the next morning. This is where he goes radio silent and you never hear from him again.
Now the scammer tries to get you for an amount of money that he knows you'll just go to your card issuing bank, make a claim, and get fully reimbursed. He also counts on the fact that you'll just want to move on and not be bothered with this whole embarrassing affair. After all, your bank made you whole so why waste anymore time on the scammer. This allows him to continue to execute this, "catch and release" scam framework against the next poor sucker who stumbles upon the con. From one bogus sign ad, he can hook dozens of victims netting him thousands of dollars.
I've attached two pictures from an actual scam that was going on in the Warrington, NJ Yardsale page. He also had two vertical Kendall tins and a vertical Goodrich Tires porcelain sign listed along with his other junk distraction items. The scammer is located reasonably close to that area, hiding out in Bethel, PA. In the attached example, he was asking a mere $400 for this Standard Oil Polarine sign. You can eventually steal it from him for $350 shipped.
The hobby is saturated with scam artists, fraudsters and con men now. It's truly unfortunate because it was once enjoyable to seek these items out. A friend and I exposed this fraudster today and thankfully Facebook took down the scam very quickly. But when one goes away 10 more surface.
Hopefully this post makes someone think twice before getting caught up in a catch and release con.