Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Too good to be true?

Occasionally, I've come across deals that sounded too good to be true but were in fact legit.  For example, I got my D300 about a year ago from a craigslist seller for about 20% less than the market price.  On ebay, I recently got a Nikon 28-105 AF-D lens for $75 when others are selling it for $200 or more.  Neither the D300 nor the 28-105 had any strings attached.

So from time to time I'm on the lookout for what I consider exceptional deals.

I was looking at Amazon prices for the Nikon D700 and noticed that there was a used one on sale for a little under $1300.  It seemed to be one of those exceptional deals, an incredible price even with everyone expecting the D700's successor sometime this year.

I started trying to find a way I could trade up to the D700...

I figured that I could sell the D300 and the Tamron 17-50 VC, then use the proceeds to buy the D700.  I would rely on the 28-105 until such time as I could get a Tamron 28-75, the first lens I used after getting a D80 a few years ago.  I even got my wife to agree.  By then though, the deal disappeared, and I supposed some lucky photographer snatched it.  Darn!

Then, strangely, another deal showed up a while later, from a different seller.  This one was for under $1200!  I couldn't believe it.  Lightning couldn't strike twice, or could it?

I was suspicious that the camera might be defective or something, but I read that Amazon guarantees Marketplace purchases, plus the seller had a 100% rating from 11 purchasers, so I looked further.  In the seller's description, it said something to the effect of please email me at ________ before ordering.  That sounded a little strange.

I emailed the seller and asked what he wanted to disclose about the item.  Meanwhile, the item disappeared again, so I thought it was sold.  A couple of hours later, though, the seller replied to me:

the Nikon D700 12.1MP FX-Format CMOS Digital SLR Camera with 3.0-Inch LCD is new (it's an ex demo, is as good as new it just had to be listed as 'used' as the box has been opened - the Camera is in New condition, only exposed, not used, no scratches, not actions shutter), comes with 12 months Nikon warranty, receipt, all manufacturer supplied accessories. the total price is $1,183.00 + $17.00 for shipping. if you want to buy send me your full name and address and i will contact Amazon asap to process an order for you. delivery will take 4 - 6 days. my return policy is full money back in 14 days.

Many Thanks

I found the proposed arrangement very suspicious, although I didn't see yet how this scumbag person was going to try to cheat me.  Eventually after a little googling, I confirmed that this was indeed a scam.  Here's how it works:

If I had tried to buy the item without contacting the seller, Amazon would eventually contact me to say that the seller couldn't complete the sale and that my credit card won't be charged.  (I guess the seller would withdraw the item.)  I would then get an email from the seller asking for my name and address. 

If I give my name and address, I will then get a fake notification, purportedly from Amazon, that I have indeed ordered the item, and that I should pay for it.  I will then get instructions to pay the seller via wire transfer. 

See here:

So much for a 100% seller rating!  I guess I can't trust the Amazon Marketplace seller ratings anymore.

Looking back at this episode, it would have been nice to get a D700 for that spectacular price.  But hey, I figure the price can only go down.  At some point, it really will become affordable even to average Joes like me.  (Heck, the full-frame Canon 5D mkI can now be bought for about $1000.) 

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