As we enter spring I'm afraid that online con artists and fraudsters are once more turning their attention to lawnmowers and online scams are appearing. Firstly there are scam websites, typically these sites will seemingly offer high value walk behind and ride on lawnmowers at bargain prices. Payment will be via Western Union or Bank Transfer. This in itself should set alarm bells ringing. You should never pay by Western Union or Bank Transfer, it is a sure fire sign of a scam and you will be unlikely to be able to get your money back! We recommend always using a credit card with any high value online transaction as you have some protection from the credit card company.
One of the latest scam sites we are aware of is www.mowerdepot.co.uk. This site does not look legitimate. We do not supply them. Whilst you can seemingly pay by credit card, you get a discount if you pay by bank transfer and the credit card processing is fake. I expect they will contact you and say they are having a problem with their credit card payments and ask you to pay by bank transfer instead. Please stay away, if you purchase a lawnmower from this site we doubt you will ever receive a new mower or ever see your money again!
Scams on Amazon
Another new type of scam involves Amazon. Fraudsters are either hijacking legitimate Amazon Marketplace seller accounts or creating fraudulent ones, they then offer lawnmowers at heavily discounted prices. For example, the image below shows the Mountfield S501R PD listing on Amazon on 15th March, one seller is genuine with the price at £649, the other 3 are fraudsters.
The fraud works by the scammers encouraging potential purchasers to contact them via email to discuss delivery or something similar. I contacted one of them and this is the email they sent me:
First of all let me apologize for the late answer.
Let me explain you how you can buy my Mountfield S501R PD 48cm Rear Roller Self Propelled Lawnmower
The item is brand new, never used, but i can't list it as a new product due to Amazon policy, they don't allow me to list it as a new product. The item will comes with original box and accessories and 2 year international warranty.
If you are wondering why the price is lower than the usual,it is because we have some promotional prices . The offer lasts 7 days.
The total price is £246.00, including all shipping costs to Europe.
If you want to buy it, please send me your shipping address(phone number, your complete name, street name and number, zip code and city) I will immediately send the required data to Amazon Department. They will contact you with the order and details about payment and shipping. You will have to complete the payment with them. Dispatch will be by normal UPS Services, which takes 3-5 days, depending on where in the United Kingdom you are located.
My return policy is full refund in 21 days.
For more information, please don't hesitate to contact me!
I then received the following email supposedly from Amazon, it is quite convincing, but note the sender's email address; firstname.lastname@example.org, not a genuine Amazon email address. The payment method is by bank transfer to a personal bank account - this should hopefully cause alarm bells for most people.
These sort of scams seem quite widespread and affecting various brands. Amazon are removing the scam sellers, but new ones seem to keep appearing.
If you are considering a new lawnmower this year it is great to research your purchase online. There are some great deals to be had, but please be wary and remember the old adage; if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!