I'm having a clear out to try to raise some funds to pay off some credit cards. I'm currently selling a PC on eBay, and have been contacted by a few buyers from Africa — from Zambia, to be precise. They seem incredibly keen to purchase my items, and are willing to pay whatever postage costs.

Being a bit of a skeptic wherever money is concerned, I'm wondering if this could be a potential hazard? A few things spring to mind:

  1. They just won't pay and I will have to re-sell.
  2. They will cough up, but import taxes/postage will cause me problems.
  3. Potential market for used PCs, retrieving data from disks for identity/financial fraud.

Can anyone comment on this?

  • 1
    Is your PC so unique that it would not be available to a person in Zambia by more local means?
    – MrChrister
    Oct 14, 2010 at 19:44
  • Its nothing special. Its a 5 year old standard Acer desktop. Nothing fancy at all
    – user155695
    Oct 14, 2010 at 20:16
  • 4
    Can't upvote "Scam" replies enough.
    – Colen
    Oct 15, 2010 at 21:18

4 Answers 4


Other people are saying this might be a scam, or this sounds like a scam.


Do not ship your computer equipment to these people.

Personally I would never sell computer equipment outside of my country, and even then would probably use escrow.

  • 1
    The same applies to East European countries although in a lesser extend. Be very careful if the eBay buyer is registered in UK but want an item to be sent to Africa (as present, etc.) They will promise to pay all the costs. I even get an email from one of them showing the 'confirmation' of their payment to 'my' PayPal account even as I don't have one ;-) Oct 17, 2010 at 17:45
  • 1
    @Michael Pryor while this one is likely a scam, its certainly not just for the reasons they are "outside your country". "never sell computer equipment outside my country" is certainly "throwing out the baby with the bath water" and I'd say even unfair discrimination. I have bought tenths of pieces of computer equipment on eBay from other continents, and I am not a scammer. And I did order shipping to different country that I was registered on also. Refusing to sell because of nationality of the customer is almost racist. Everybody has the right to buy regardless of skin color.
    – ria
    Nov 10, 2011 at 0:18
  • I'd sell regardless of where the customer wants to ship it, provided the post office ships there, and the customer pays and I see the money on my account. These scams work only in the way that the buyer doesn't pay, but just sends a fake confirmation of payment and makes the seller believe in it. Unless I see the payment in my Bank/Paypal account after login, I'd not send it even if the buyer was living next street. So it doesn't have anything to do with being in Africa. Why does he write to you anyway? Anybody can click BuyItNow or bid, when the deal is done you wait for money and ship.
    – ria
    Nov 10, 2011 at 0:22

Michael Pryor is 100% correct here. This is almost certainly a scam.

If you want confirmation, look at the feedback of the buyers and of folks who buy stuff from them. You'll typically find that they run through a bunch of low value auctions, build up some feedback, then all of the sudden buy and sell lots of laptops or other high-value items. It's a big scam that has been going on for a decade or more.

If you are actually trying to sell things like computers overseas, particularly to third world countries, the sign of a legitimate buyer is usually someone who will have you ship to an import-export company who handles the customs stuff and the bureaucratic nonsense required to deal with government on the other side.

I had a bunch of Sun equipment in the late 90's that was purchased by folks in Latin America via EBay. They bought from EBay because the local resellers had a monopoly on the products or couldn't get sufficient quantities. All of them used companies, mostly in Miami, which handled the actual export at the customer's expense.


This sounds like a scam. C.f. Craigslist for normal warning signs of an on-line scam


While I guess you can never tell for sure, I think it is a potential problem.

Why buy from you, ship it from the US when probably a similar computer is available nearer to them? I mean, this person is using a computer and the Internet somewhere, so it can't be that far to a new computer store. Certainly somewhere in their province if not country or continent.

I suspect they will offer to pay with a cashiers check or a money order or something. Then you will ship the item and the funds will be found out to be bogus a couple of months after you try to cash it. You have no computer and no money for it.

It really makes no sense for this person to go so far out of their way for your standard laptop unless they are trying to steal it.

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