How to Avoid PlayStation 5 Scam to Protect Your Money
What Is a Console Scammer?
A console scammer is someone who is falsely advertising a popular gaming console like the PlayStation 5 or lie about having the console available for sale on websites like eBay or Amazon. Console scammers prey on people excited to receive the latest console for a good deal and leave their wallets empty by taking their money and never giving them the console.
The PS5 is still an extremely hot commodity years after its release, selling out in every store as soon as it is back in stock. It’s extremely difficult to find and afford, so seeing a PS5 on sale online from a third-party seller for any price, you’ll be willing to fork over your money. However, what if you sent that e-transfer or handed the seller some cash and never got the console you wanted?
This means you’ve come across a scammer.
Where Can You Get Scammed?
There are, unfortunately, many corners of the Internet where you can get scammed – and they are relatively easy to find. In fact, oftentimes, the scammer finds you. Be wary of:
- Email phishing scams, where the scammer will send you an email with a link inside. If you click the link, you will be taken to a fake sign-in page or asked to provide sensitive information that the scammer now has access to.
- Add-ons from games, where you can go into the virtual store of any game app on your phone to pick out outfits, abilities, weapons, or online currency. A scammer will try to get you to visit a third-party website that looks legitimate, like an app’s virtual store, but is actually just trying to get your credit card information.
- Targets placed on your IP address, which can reveal a lot about you. Every device connected to the Internet has an IP address, including consoles. Scammers can target your IP address to figure out your name and location to wreak havoc on you and your bank account.
- Suspicious mobile apps, as scammers as never above developing entire apps or websites dedicated to gaining access to your information by installing malware into your phone or computer.
- Websites like eBay, Amazon, or Facebook Marketplace, where anyone can sell anything – grabbing your money and not providing you with the console you purchased. Watch out if the “console is not available within driving range but the seller is willing to ship”, or any requests for e-transfers or Paypal payments.
What Are Some of the Suspicious Signs?
Some signs of a suspicious seller include:
- They are unwilling to send you pictures of the console, especially a custom picture like them holding today’s date written on paper in front of the PS5.
- Don’t rely on reviews, as they may have been written by the seller themselves.
- Identical emails with small mistakes posing as brands you recognize to trick you into clicking links you receive over email or text. Instead of clicking links in suspicious emails, visit the website mentioned in the email in a different tab to see if it’s legit.
- Copycat deals and websites, where scammers set up a site that looks like it could be run by a trusted brand but are just a way to steal personal financial information.
- Listings on Amazon or eBay that use stock images instead of personally taken images of the console, and phrases that suggest they won’t be selling what you expect – such as listing the item as a “PS5 Box” instead of the console itself. This is a loophole wherein the scammer can say they technically did provide you with the listed product and therefore do not need to provide you with a refund.
How to Avoid Scams
There are a few ways to avoid scams or take precautions when you’re sent something that looks suspicious, such as:
- Never click a link from an email address or brand you don’t recognize.
- Never use PayPal or e-transfer to buy a console unless the seller is in front of you, handing you the console and waiting for the e-transfer afterwards.
- Use credit cards when purchasing things online, as you can report fraudulent purchases, and thieves can’t drain your bank account or find out your account number.
- Avoid deals that look too good to be true.
- Read all listings, emails, and offers fully – fine print may be a big factor, or you may notice small mistakes that can tell you it isn’t a legitimate seller or business.
- Keep your software up to date, as criminals will target weaknesses in old versions of software.
- Stick to websites you trust.
- Don’t share your private information, especially when asked for it by sellers or illegitimate companies.
- Set up your passwords to be impossible to guess – include numbers, symbols, and uppercase and lowercase letters. Try to make it long and hard to guess – no more “123ABC”!
Know What a Scam E-mail Looks Like
- Organizations invest in their own domains, so if you are being sent a “business email” that ends in “@gmail.com or @hotmail.com,” the public domain can be a dead giveaway that the email is not legitimate. As well, if the email comes from an address not affiliated with the sender, it’s most likely a scam.
- Look for spelling and grammar errors in the email. Scammers target vulnerable and gullible people – think of the “Nigerian Prince” scam or the current trend of scams going around where people pretend to be elderly people’s grandchildren in trouble with the law – they will be unable to provide specific details about their background and will stumble over words and grammar.
- If the email includes suspicious links or attachments, it is most likely a phishing scam trying to capture your personal information. Do not click on these links, but you can try to enter the website or business mentioned in the email to see if it even exists.
- The email has a sense of urgency, asking you to “act now before it’s too late,” – meaning they’re hoping you act quickly and give them private information or money before the seller and email reveal their true nature.
Be Weary on FB Marketplace
It’s extremely common to scam people on Facebook Marketplace, especially if the seller asks for money BEFORE they give you the console, or offer shipping instead of allowing you to pick it up. Their listing may also seem illegitimate as they don’t provide proper product photos or descriptions.
Read the Fine Print
Console scammers often tweak their descriptions either before or after you make your purchase, so you are unable to ask for a refund. They may be just listing PS5 accessories or controllers for sale, but will list it as a PS5 for sale to get more offers. They’re hoping you misread the product description and just want to get the best deal possible.
Look at the Seller’s Account and User Reviews
If the seller’s account is new, has no feedback score, and all of the reviews look the same, the seller may be scamming you, especially on sites like eBay, Amazon, and Facebook Marketplace. Look at any reviews talking about the seller being a scammer, and try to find experienced sellers so you know they have an established, trusted business.
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