I am selling something on ebay Kleinanzeigen (German equivalent to craigslist in the US). A potential buyer first acted like a private person in writing, rather young at age, maybe even a teenager. After we agreed on a price, the buyer suddenly revealed that they were buying for a company and their text messages sounded more professional. The company is actually registered in Germany ("UG (haftungsbeschränkt)"). The buyer then asked me for a receipt of payment before the payment was transferred on the name of that company.
The company's Google reviews show that they frequently buy similar items on ebay, and that most people were happy, but many people also reported the same strategy as in my case. I am quite sure that it is a scam but I do not understand how it works.
I am wondering two things:
- how does the scam work? I guess they are going to use my receipt to account for stolen items or to use it for tax fraud. But why do they need my signature on the receipt? Since they cannot prove the payment to my account, where is the difference to simply faking my signature?
- isn't it quite a blatant mistake to actually provide me with the company's name? Should I inform the police - or is the company scammed, too, and I should inform the company?
I should have rather asked the question "is this a scam?" but I was afraid that the answer was obviously always "yes". In this case, it is not! The buyer, although working for a company that apparently frequently buys electronic items from private sellers, did not know the difference between a receipt for payment and a purchase order. What they were actually asking for was a purchase order. I sent it to them, with a note saying "This is not a receipt for payment but a purchase order.", and just a few hours later they transferred me the money via Paypal.
I would like to thank user TTT for pointing out the existence of purchase orders and its acronym PO, which initially enabled me to trust the buyer.