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Farnborough & Aldershot

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SCAMS and the role of the Moderators.

Dear Freecyclers

It has come to our attention that some scams are doing the rounds in neighbouring groups. Whilst we are aware of them we cannot spot everything and they are not always obvious in the first instance. The general process is as follows :

An OFFER post is made for an item. It may be large or expensive or just unusual to see it offered for free. It could also just be a regular every day item. You reply to say that you are interested, and the poster then says something along the lines that it took so long for moderators to approve the post that they have now moved out of the area - would you pay for the postage or to cover some other cost. Whatever the story you are told, even if you make any kind of payment the item will never arrive. Worse still you are then at greater risk of having further contact with that person requesting more money (it was more expensive to deliver than first planned etc.) and other harrasment.

** UPDATE - A new twist is also the offer of a further item - Plasma TV for example - that was not originally detailed and this will need payment for delivery **

We are also aware that in some cases a WANTED post may also get a reply and likewise the responding person will offer an item (maybe saying it’s almost new or an expensive model) and after some correspondence they request payment for the delivery (they may claim to be housebound, too far away, no car etc). Whilst we appreciate that some help may be offered or requested in getting items to the intended recipient, payment for this should NOT be requested or required. If as the recipient you feel the need to offer some compensation for time and effort that would be between you and the other party BUT IT SHOULD NEVER BE EXPECTED NOR A CONDITION OF THE TRADE. As a free community group it would be hoped that any such offer of delivery is part of supporting this local community effort.

If you see a post that seems suspicious or are asked for payment then do please raise it to the moderator team (there are 2 of us) and we will take a look. Our overall advice is :

1) Never ever send payment for anything to anybody for ANY Freecycle related exchange.

2) Do not include personal information in your wanted posts.

3) Report scam offer posts by using the 'report as inappropriate button' located under the post details.

4) Report members requesting payment to the appropriate moderation team.

The same general rule applies on the internet as in real life - if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!

Regarding the moderators – we are here to try and maintain the group, resolve issues, and apply approvals for any posts requiring it. Beyond the initial WANTED or OFFERED posts which are visible to all we do not see any correspondence. With the exception of the posts that are flagged to us for moderation we have no other control or advanced preview on the posts, and we have no influence on the posters, nor when the e-mails are sent out to you.

For identifying posts requiring moderator approval the follow rules apply :

** First post of new joiners - to try and catch members who join just to post a scam item or spam etc.

** Posts flagged by the system for containing certain restricted words (such as "BUY", "SELL" etc.) which could further indicate a scam or breach of rules.

** Duplicate posts - for example where you offer the item on more than one group such that the system may believe it's a scam or spam post.

Where a post is to be moderated we as moderators receive an e-mail. We will action the post asap but please note we act in a voluntary capacity and are not hovering to approve each post immediately with nothing else to do. Whilst this will usually be within the hour be prepared that it may be longer particularly at weekends. It will most certainly be within 1 day. Regarding the scam - it seems unlikely that the poster would therefore move within 1 day of making such an offer for an item.

Once again please note that FREECYCLE is to be considered FREE. You are not prevented from selling items received via a WANTED add but it should be clearly stated in the post as your intention. If you are OFFERING an item it should likewise be free. As well as the stated aim that we are trying to prevent unwanted items just going to landfill it’s also hoped that a community spirit can be fostered for the good of the local community.

Regards,

David & Patrick (Moderators).

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