This raises a bunch of red flags (also confirmed by googling the email address it came from), but I don't quite understand how this scam is actually supposed to work. So, here it goes:

  • I put up an ad (for a guitar, 90€) on LeBonCoin (the French equivalent of Craigslist).

  • Someone contacts me by text message (anonymous with no actual phone number), saying they want to continue by email.

  • I then get an email, with roughly the following content (rough translation):

    OK, I will buy it, but I need to send you cash by "express DHL letter". The DHL driver will pick up the item when he gives you the cash. I need the following information: full name, postal address, price of the item, and your phone number.

I'm guessing that this works by them requesting some "delivery fee" in advance, but does anyone know how this actually works?

  • 40
    Bonjour, as well as the answers below it is possible they simply want your accurate Name, Address, Phone. Later, or in another way, they may get your identity number and perhaps birthdate. My sense is that scammers have "low paid scammers" (!) who sit there and endlessly gather such info in just this way. I too have seen such a "scam" where seemingly all they "want to scam" is your exact name/address. The other answer has explained "shipment scam" nicely! cordialement
    – Fattie
    Jul 17, 2018 at 12:03
  • 3
    leboncoin.fr is full of scammers(both buyers and sellers), be very careful everytime you sell an item on this site, there's pretty sofisticated scam nowadays, what you're explaining looks a lot like one of them
    – Kiwy
    Jul 17, 2018 at 14:51

4 Answers 4


It looks like a "shipment scam" mixed with "bait and switch". There are few ways you can get robbed:

  • The "DHL" (not really) will say they have cash for you but they need to be paid for handling (or something like that). You pay the fee, get cash and realize it's fake. You lose the fee and the stuff.
  • The "DHL" will contact you and tell you that you need to pay for additional fees before they send a courier with cash. You will get a nice invoice with a bank account via email. You pay and the driver never arrives.
  • The courier arrives, says he knows nothing about money. The person (in a big hurry) will wire you a proof of payment. You give away your stuff and it's lost because the proof was fake.
  • Similar to the one above. They will change their mind (for some reason) about payment and send you proof of payment for stuff and shipping. It turns into a regular shipping scam by now.

DHL (and to my knowledge, all delivery services in Europe) don't do payment before shipping. You can order Cash-on-Delivery. Never the other way around.

You can send money via couriers in the EU, but they don't offer a service like the one described in the question. It can be two different services linked together. So you can send money and after receiving them, the person to whom you sent can present the courier with a shipment back. Financial institutions that offer that service actually employ specialized and specially licensed security services.

(And with that in mind, it may be some sort of money laundering scam. You agree, then "police" show up at your door and tell you to cooperate. It's explained under this link: Fake police SCAM)

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    As an aside, if this is going to be the counterfeit money version of the scam, that's a perfect opportunity to have the real police waiting for the "DHL" driver when he shows up. Jul 17, 2018 at 13:14
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    It can also by some low value money. In Poland for example they make a switch to pre-devaluation money. Basically worth nothing. But they don't face counterfeit charges. It's good idea to always call police in such cases. Jul 17, 2018 at 13:20
  • 3
    You can send money trough a Delivery company in Bulgaria: econt.com/client-center/faq/money-transfer Jul 18, 2018 at 10:47
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    "YOU CANNOT SEND MONEY VIA COURIERS IN EU" is not true, e.g. DHL Germany transports up to 500€ in cash.
    – neo
    Jul 20, 2018 at 8:28
  • 2
    @SZCZERZOKŁY So can we concede that some carriers in some EU countries do transport cash and that blanket statement is wrong unless you specifically know something about DHL France?
    – neo
    Jul 20, 2018 at 12:26

An uncle of mine fell for a variant of that scam last April. This is what happened in his case:

  • He had a 2nd hand Apple laptop for sale for 250 Euro and advertised it on Marktplaats (the Dutch equivalent to Craigslist).

  • Was promised a DHL swap. Envelope with the cash in exchange for the laptop. (He wasn't aware DHL doesn't do that sort of thing.)

  • A white mini-van comes to his house. Here in The Netherlands DHL uses a lot of independent sub-contractors that use their own cars/vans without DHL logo. So that is by itself not unusual. (Does that happen in France, too?)

  • The driver wears a yellow and red jacket and baseball-cap that looks like the DHL colors.

  • The driver gives the sealed envelope to my uncle. He opens the envelope and sees 5 bills of 50 Euro, which appears OK.

  • The driver presents a clipboard with a printed form that my uncle needs to sign for accepting the "swap". Seems very official, but he is a bit old-school and isn't aware that all transport firms these days use phones or handhelds computers with a fully digital order tracking system. So, my uncle signs the form, hands over the box with the laptop and the driver loads it in the mini-van and drives away.

  • A day later my uncle tries to pay for something in a shop with one of those 50 Euro bills and discovers they are fakes. Pretty good fakes, but still fakes.

According to the police-officer he talked to this is a fairly common scam. They specifically target elderly people (they estimate age from the sellers profile on the market-place website or an associated Facebook profile) with a low sales-ratio (or even better: 1st time seller). They hope that an elderly and hopefully inexperienced seller isn't that familiar with shipping company policies and way of working. They try to get some more info on the seller via their initial contact to confirm how savvy the seller is about this. Contact goes by (burner)-phone or throw-away email address. If the seller appears too savvy they will quickly cancel the deal.

And in case of my uncle they got it completely right. It was his first online sale ever and his only previous experience with DHL (or any other shipping firm) was just receiving of goods.

  • 27
    @DeanMacGregor Because people are a lot less likely to remember the random DHL delivery bloke than the person you met with at a coffee shop who gave you fake bills. They may not even be aware that the "DHL" guy is part of the scam -- they may assume he got used. Even though it's fake, the intermediary still protects them.
    – anon
    Jul 17, 2018 at 16:23
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    @DeanMacGregor Since DHL absolutely doesn't ever do this, the scammer gives the victim clues that it's a scam. If the victim misses those clues, the scammer knows he has found a good victim and can put in more effort. If the victim catches those clues and doesn't follow through, the scammer is saved time an effort trying to scam someone who knows how to spot a scam. Jul 17, 2018 at 18:40
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    @DavidSchwartz Yeah that's the same reason all the Nigerian prince spam emails have so many typos and grammatical errors. Jul 17, 2018 at 19:52
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    @DeanMacGregor I suspect a (fake) DHL driver may help reassure the victim that the transaction is legitimate. Even if a person doesn't suspect an out-and-out scam, they will probably be slightly suspicious of a "random person in a coffee shop" and may double-check the money and pay more attention to the person. If a DHL "official" knocks on the door many (or enough!) will assume that DHL will have checked for counterfeit notes etc. and pay less attention themselves.
    – TripeHound
    Jul 17, 2018 at 19:59
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    Also the DHL driver is protected from questions. He is just the DHL guy, he can't talk anything about the trade with you. All he knows is to exchange this envelope for your guitar. And he is in a hurry of course, so you better check that money very fast!
    – Josef
    Jul 18, 2018 at 7:05

Another thing to be careful about is a scam where the scammer pretends to deliver a genuine shipment from the company, sent by someone as a surprise (flowers, box of chocolates... money?), but on the door, they first hand you the delivery in a friendly manner and then they say that the postage is not paid for it and ask for say EUR 1-2.

The idea is that the delivery package must be presented as appealing and valuable and then the tiny postage cost should seem completely insignificant to you.

However, there is the catch, the delivery driver will say that it's company policy to not take cash and only take card payments and will carry a small portable bank card terminal on themselves.

This in fact will be a card copying machine. Of course, to authorize the payment they will hand you the "terminal" which is where you will fill in your PIN code, which is the final piece of the puzzle.

Then they will go away and use your card via the copy.

Tell them to PayPal you...

Kidding, stay away from them.

  • 1
    Quick note about "Tell them to PayPal you..", it's possible to reverse these transactions - especially when you have handed over your goods to a fake delivery driver, and DHL will have no record to back you up.
    – Vix
    Jul 20, 2018 at 21:35

DHL and DHL drivers etc need to be fake, the scam will still work. Scammers setup DHL accounts fake or otherwise. Once the swap is done - DHL will simply mail out the goods to the scammer and seller is left holding fake currency or fake bank check (or whatever). DHL itself could get scammed in the process if they themselves got paid by a fake check- that also happens.

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