Occasionally, I read about someone has been cheated, so and so is a liar, items agreed but not sent, arguments went back and forward, etc, etc, etc. Even an experienced dealer can tell you his sad side of his unfortunate story. I am afraid I do not have an answer here for you.
First of all, there are no boundaries for thieves. They come from all walks of life, from all four corners of the earth, regardless of which countries, rich or poor. However some might even argued that certain countries tend to have more thieves than others, which I incline to agree with (see item 5 below).
To date, nothing had happened to me yet (touch wood!). I have been very lucky so far, but I am sure one of these days someone out there will get me. Perhaps someone is already plotting right now! Until then, my record is still 100% perfect. I will endeavour to avoid being part of the statistics at all cost. For those who had tried in the past and of course unsuccessful, I thank you for the valuable experience you had given me. Perhaps you should try to get a real job like everyone else. Better luck next time, you loooosers!
Basically, there are at least three type of main deals: -
a) Genuine collector looking for a fair deal;
b) A collector looking for a deal in his/her favour; and
c) Someone out there simply looking for a sucker just like you and me!
Below I have listed 10 basic tips and precautions that you can avoid being part of this statistics: -
1) Before proceeding with a deal, ask for some references if possible. If you are a member of an Internet club, seek for an opinion on that person too. Even if a reference is given, be very careful that the referees given could be a fake (ie from the same person using a difference email address) unless you know that referee personally. Also do a name search on the Internet to see if there was any outstanding trades on this person. When contacting the referee ask them what was the condition, if any, for their trade. Some thieves may on purposely conducted few good trades with one or two good collectors and then used them as referees for their illegal activities;
2) Be very careful when someone offers you hard to get banknotes. If it is too good to be true, beware! A bit of research can be very helpful here. Ask for a scan of the notes if you can, preferable at 300dpi. This may avoid being supplied with scans copied from other collectors web sites;
3) Beware of banknotes that are offered at a rock bottom price. If it is cheap, then it is too good to be true. Sometime it is better not to have them than to incur unnecessary losses;
4) Study the way how your potential trading partner reacts to your proposal. If they agreed to everything you have requested for, then there is a big warning sign here too;
5) Use registered post in every deals if possible and make sure you pack them securely but not too obvious. Sad to say, postal thieves in certain countries is a real concern;
6) Agreed on the deal right down to the finest details in order to avoid any misunderstanding at a later date. Don't assume! If you have to, write down the serial numbers of the notes that you are going to send out too;
7) Be fair and reasonable to each other. Treat your potential trading partner like the way you want to be treated. Also negotiate very deals like it is your first deal, including repeating ones. Some may just use the first deal as a bait on you;
8) If this is the first time and you are not sure, try a small swap first. Don't rush into it. Take your time, but don't drag it either;
9) Keep all registered postage receipts as this may be required to track the item sent at a later date. Don't forget to advise the details to the other party too as they may also keep track on the item posted;
10) Finally, try not to be greedy and asked for more than you can offer as this can be a trap from the other party.
I wish I can say that above tips will save you from all the potential hassles and worries. Unfortunately, this is not that simple but it would at least minimized your potential losses. Even a most experienced collector can be a victim too. Whilst I am no expert in this field, I do find the about precautions are very helpful. If you cannot come to a conclusion in a deal and no matter how desperate you wanted those notes, don't force yourself into it as you may regret this at a later date. I know that talk is easy as the heart always seem to have control over the mind! Remember that most collectors are honest and reliable but there is always one or two scums out looking for a sucker like you!
I have also on several occasions sent postage stamps, coins and banknotes to some collectors friends as a gift. Unfortunately some of these so called "friends" did not even bother to acknowledge upon receipt of my letters. I am not sure why. It is not that they have to pay for the postage for sending me an acknowledgment via email? Perhaps they were expecting me to get something in return too. Just to let you know that if I voluntarily sent you a gift without first letting you know, then I do not expect anything in return. This is what we called “Gifts” for being such a good friend. All I need is just a simple acknowledgment of my mail. Sometime I just wonder, with “friends” like these, who needs enemies?
Below are some of the past experiences I encountered: -
a) Requesting Middle East notes from my collection at a discounted exchange rate (approximately by 10% lower) against his own country currency in his favour (like subsidising him) [from Brazil];
b) References given came from the same people that I was negotiating with. The style of writing were the same [From Romania]. Referee given sad to be from Belgium;
c) Offering a substantial discount sale price on an expensive specimen polymer note (discounted from Euro to USD with same price digit value) ie from Euro 400 to USD400 for the same note. Amazing list of rare and expensive notes offered but can't provide any scans of the notes offered for viewing. I later found out that this person traded with 2 well known collectors/dealers and used them as references. In these two trades, I was told that his conman sent his notes first. What this conman was not aware that I knew these two collector/dealer he first traded with. [from Brazil];
d) Agreed to my request for what I was looking for without hesitation or asking for any compensation for the value, but insist that I have to send first. This is a classic case [from Romania];
e) Sent me scans of Banknote copied from another well known Internal site, claiming to be theirs [Iran];
f) Insisted on exchanging based on catalogue value again some of my more expensive face value notes. Notes offered were low value and common type. There is nothing wrong with that but I don't exchange based on catalogue value [quite common];
g) Offering cheap and common notes in return for my spare/expensive notes. Again, this is quite normal [from US and few other countries];
h) Insist on me sending first because of me who was initiated the contact first and later I discovered (via Internet search) some outstanding deals owing (dishonour activities) by this same person. This person claimed to be doing his PhD at a local University in his own country. I wonder what thesis was he working on, "How to con someone on Internet and not getting caught?". Hmmm... I was not born yesterday! [from Georgia];
i) Offering banknotes from their own country in return for my foreign banknotes. Now, I do not consider this as wrong or unusual but one must understand that it costs me extra to get foreign banknotes as compared to those issued in your own country. I must say that I did on many occasions exchanged in this manner. At least it is still cheaper than buying from dealers [several countries].
And finally, I know that it is quite hard to come to a conclusion as to who should send first. I have seen collectors agreed to post out their respective notes at the same time but later it ended up that the registered tracking nos given was a fake. I consider this as the main deal breaker in many of my past negotiations experience and I don’t blame them. We are all here trying to safe guard out properties and not having a deal going through is always better than cheated by someone. I am just trying not to be just another victim in this wonderful hobby of collecting banknotes. I can only hope if there is a safer or fairer way to conduct an exchange with mutual understanding.
It's a jungle out there. So please be very careful. Good luck to you all.