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The Complete Guide to Avoiding Watch Scams

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This article is purely dedicated to ensuring you, the reader, know about all the common watch scams currently happening.

Watch scams are abhorrent. The industry is riddled with many people and organisations set on scamming individuals in either ending up with no watch or no money.  
Therefore, this page lists and explains each form of scam,  how they can be prevented and the steps you can take to ensure complete confidence and authenticity in your dealings. This page is frequently updated and improved upon so it can be a continual resource for the watch community.


Know the Buyer/Seller thoroughly

"Buy the Seller, Not the Watch".

If the buyer/seller is a business, search up their business credentials and reviews.
If the buyer/seller is a private individual, prior to the meeting/transaction habitually trade the following information:

  1. Driving License/ID
  2. LinkedIn Profile/Social Media Profiles: LinkedIn is our favourite, as a criminal is unlikely to have a professional LinkedIn page listing his achievements in crime. Please note that some authentic professionals don’t use LinkedIn.
  3. Occupation information and proof.

Know the watch you’re buying thoroughly

If you are buying a watch, make sure to research the model. There are numerous sites such as that give the model’s information, sites that have plenty of images of the model and sites that give average market values such as - please note many average prices are influenced by US pricing.

Photography & Recording

Whether you are meeting in person or shipping/receiving in the post, have a photographic record of the individuals ID, transfer of ownership and bill of sale. With shipping/delivery, record the entire process of packaging/opening in case a dispute needs to be raised.


When buying/selling a Panerai, there’s a good chance the person you are dealing with has been involved in some form with It’s always worth asking the question on the forums - if they are a scammer, chances are you aren’t the first recipient!

Additional Principle: Box, Papers and Purchase Receipt

As a principle, we only buy watches with original box & papers. Although the full set isn’t essential to buying a watch, replica/stolen watches are unlikely to have box & papers and matching serial numbers on the watch and documents.

1. Paypal Scams

There are numerous ways scammers will try to trick you through Paypal.  From our experience, we try to avoid using Paypal and eBay altogether. If a dispute is raised, the process is very automated and difficult to have any customer service. If you are required to use an escrow service, we recommend or

"You've been paid" / “Pending Payment”

Some fraudsters try to trick you into thinking that you've received a payment. They want what you're selling for free. Before you ship anything, log into your PayPal account and check that you were actually paid. Make sure that money has actually been transferred, and that it isn’t just a scam. Remember not to follow email links. The safest way to access your account is always to open a browser window, navigate to, and enter your login info.

Faked sender email address

Fraudsters can easily fake the “friendly name” in the sender’s email address. For example, an email can appear to be from “PayPal Services,” but actually be from

Some email clients make it hard to see the real name. But if you mouse over the friendly name or click “Reply,” you should be able to see the full email address of the sender. Sophisticated fraudsters can fake the entire name to look like a legitimate sender, so be careful.

Though verifying a correct sender address is important, it’s not enough. It’s important to look at the entire email. When you check your account, always enter "" into your browser instead of clicking a link in an email.

Paypal Shipping Scams

There are several ways fraudsters incorporate shipping into their schemes. Be sure you’re familiar with the following:

“My shipping service” scam

  • The buyer asks you to use their shipping account because they can get a discount, they have a preferred vendor they’ve worked with for years, or their shipping service is cheaper or more reliable. In another variation of the scam, the buyer may also ask you to wire the shipping fees to their preferred shipper.
  • If you use the buyer's shipping account, they can easily contact the shipping company and reroute the order to another address.
  • The buyer can then open up a complaint asking for a refund because they didn't receive their order.
  • You aren't able to prove that the buyer received their order and you are out your product, the shipping costs and your money.
  • If they ask you to wire the money to a bogus shipping company, they can steal your money.
  • After you have wired the money you’ll find out that the order was made with a stolen card or bank account. You may be held liable for returning the funds to the legitimate customer whose account was stolen.

How to avoid this scam:

  • Only use your shipping account.
  • Never wire money to someone you don't know – you can't get it back easily.
  • If a customer asks you to use their shipping service, review their order for fraud carefully. They may have used a stolen card or bank account to fund the purchase.
  • Ship to the address on the Transaction Details page.

Pre-paid Shipping Label Scam

  • You receive an order from a customer who asks you to use their pre-paid label to cover the shipping charges. (They may tell you that they can get their labels at a discounted price.)
  • By providing the label, the customer controls the destination of the package. They may send it to another country, a PO Box or some other untraceable location.
  • To be covered under PayPal's Seller Protection policy, you are required to ship to the address on the Transaction Details page.
  • The shipping label may also have been purchased with a stolen credit card.

How to avoid this scam:

  • If the customer asks you to use their pre-paid label, review their order for fraud carefully. They may have used a stolen card to make the purchase.
  • Do not accept shipping labels from your customers.
  • Ship to the address on the Transaction Details page.

Re-routing Shipping Scam

  • The buyer reroutes the package so they can file a complaint that they never received it.
  • A buyer places an order and provides an incorrect or fake shipping address.
  • The shipping company tries to deliver the package but isn't able to.
  • The buyer monitors the online tracking information and notices that the shipper couldn't deliver the package.
  • The buyer contacts your shipping company and asks them to send the package to their correct address. The shipping company delivers the package to the new location.
  • Buyer then files a complaint for not receiving the item.
  • Because the shipment was rerouted, you can't prove the item was delivered to the address on the Transaction Details page.
  • The buyer gets to keep the item and money.
  • Because the package wasn't delivered to the address on the Transaction Details page, you aren't covered by Seller Protection.
  • Unfortunately, you lost the product, shipping fees and the money.
  • To make it worse, you might also have to pay your shipper an additional rerouting fee.

How to avoid this scam:

  • Contact your shipping company and block buyers from rerouting packages.
  • Validate the buyer's address before shipping.
  • Only ship to the address on the Transaction Details page.

2. Bank Cheque Scams

These scams are currently very frequent and have caught many unfortunate individuals out.

There are three types of cheque scam: counterfeit, forged and fraudulently altered.

Counterfeit: A counterfeit cheque is printed to look exactly like those that are genuine but has been created and written by a criminal for the purposes of committing fraud.

Forged: A forged cheque is one that’s been stolen from you and used by a criminal by forging your signature.

Fraudulently Altered: A fraudulently altered cheque is genuine but has been altered in some way before being paid in i.e. altering the payee’s name or the amount of the cheque.

How to spot cheque scams

  1. You receive a cheque for a greater amount than agreed and are subsequently asked for a refund for the overpayment
  2. You’re asked for immediate delivery of goods or services before a cheque is cleared through your account

Examples of Cheque Scams

Cheque Overpayment
David sold his watch through a classified ad and agreed a price of £5,000 with the buyer. When the cheque for payment came through, it was for £6,000, a greater amount than agreed. The buyer asked John to return the £1,000 difference by bank transfer. Once David had repaid the difference to the buyer, he discovered that the cheque had bounced.

Cheque Interception
Meena bought a watch through a classified ad and sent the payment by cheque in the post. Her cheque was intercepted by a criminal, and the payee and the amount was altered, before being cashed in by the criminal. Do yourself a favour; don’t send cheques in the post.

Bounced Cheque Payment
The most common: Alan sells a watch through a classified ad and the buyer says he will pay by cheque. The money arrives in your account, but it is infact PENDING. The buyer pressures Alan to ship the watch straight away/the buyer is in a hurry and takes the watch away.

How to avoid the scam:

  • In general, try to avoid accepting cheques. If the buyer can pay with a cheque, he can just as easily pay via Bank Transfer.
  • CALL YOUR BANK. Explain to them the situation and they will confirm whether the money is pending or confirmed.
  • Take your time. If the seller tries to rush you, or pressures you for next day delivery, make sure you think clearly and slowly, and not be persuaded to give into demands.

If you believe you’ve fallen for a scam, contact your bank immediately on a number you know to be correct, such as the one listed on your statement, their website or on the back of your debit or credit card.

3. Replica Market Scams

Research suggests that between 20% and 30% of all online searches for top-name items are looking for fakes, which they prefer to call replicas. Today, many replicas are made to the near-exact precision of luxury watches. Panerai replicas are especially known to be accurate to the original.

Well known replica brands have been listed in this replica watch forum…

How to avoid buying a replica watch:

  • Study the Replica Watch Forums. Replica Watches Guide Forum, Replica Watch Info Forum, Rep Geek Forum
    The forums likely discuss, in-depth, about the watch you are looking to buy, and its counterfeit version. There are many reviews on the accuracy of the replica, but close-up, the differences are noticeable. The forum members are just as scrutinous as we are, in their eagerness to have a replica that is 100% identical.
  • If you can, buy only from an established and reputable dealer. If buying from an individual, insist that the watch, including the movement, is inspected by an expert.
  • Check the model online. Does the one you're planning to buy match the detailed description and illustrations of other same-model watches?
  • Check documentation. Beware if the watch comes without certification that should include a serial number.
  • Check the price. Look at auction reports and other online data. Experts say if the price is more than 20% below the going rate, it's probably a fake.
  • Check the "feel." If there are sharp edges or the watch feels lighter than it should, it's a scam. Look for the hallmark if it's gold.
  • Check the tick. Luxury watches are barely audible, reflecting the refined quality of moving parts. A loud tick signals a fake.
  • Don't be rushed. Be on your guard if the seller is trying to pressure you for a quick deal -- a common tactic used by scammers.
  • Get a second opinion. Ask for pictures of the watch set at a particular time and share them with genuine watch groups such as

4. Cash Payment Risks

At the expense of stating the obvious, never pay cash for a watch. Even an in-person deal shouldn’t require a watch collector to present himself to a stranger with thousands of dollars on his person. Massive cash handovers are the domain of thieves and drug dealers; many of dubious enterprise will dabble in both. Stick to escrow accounts, credit cards, and bank transfers.

Bank transfer payments for luxury watches present both the best-price purchase option for many deals and a chance to fact-check one’s counterparty. Always ensure that the given bank, address, and owner name for the seller’s account corresponds to the seller’s physical proximity, nation, and identity. If a watch seller of a given name – purportedly in Canada – specifies a bank in the Balkans with a different account name, think twice and ask hard questions.

In-person deals should be conducted only in secure public locations with no cash changing hand. The best option is to meet at the watch buyer’s bank of choice. At that point, a wire transfer can take place with critical input from a bank professional regarding any potential hazards. Moreover, the presence of cameras, security personnel, and availability of documentation helps to cement the buyer’s protection from outright theft. The watch to be purchased should be available for evaluation, and a payment can be made effective upon the buyer’s approval.

Ultimately, watch collectors can secure their investments by maintaining a skeptical attitude and a “show-me” policy towards seller credentials. Avoiding blind bank transfers to private individuals, dubious in-person proposals, cash deals, and risks with unproven sellers are the keys to unlocking peace of mind.