Products > Thermal Imaging

Buying or being offered cheap used thermal cameras - be cautious !


This is just a public service post and it’s contents will not be a surprise to many but some may still be unaware of the scams that are currently prevalent involving equipment that includes thermal imaging cameras.

I have been approached by people offering me thermal cameras at excellent prices recently and I have also bid on some nice units that appeared on eBay. In both scenarios I believe that the sellers were effectively trying to carry out a scam.

Before I even detail what is going on, please remember that if something looks like an amazing bargain or “too good to be true” you are possibly looking at some form of scam. The scams are not always obvious though ! I am fortunate to have never really been scammed except for a less than honest seller who sold me a PM280 that had a dead cooler. That was different to what I am seeing currently.

I have been approached directly to buy thermal cameras at decent prices on several occasions recently. All offers took the same form in that I was offered the camera at a great price provided I pay the postage up-front and the balance of the price when I am happy with the item. Sounds like a safe deal as you only pay when you are happy with the item that is delivered…. Except I doubt any item will ever be delivered ! All offers were from overseas sellers and so the postage was always a decent amount of money. The postage is the scam… they steal the postage money with no intention of sending the camera. Such scammers refuse to use PayPal or other safe methods and use all manner of excuses to explain why they do not use these safe platforms. They want bank transfers and, as we know, that is like giving away cash to the scammer. The attempt to extract the postage cost can be very elaborate to make it seem legitimate. DO NOT, under any circumstances provide your credit card details to a person claiming to be the shipping company representative. They will steal your credit card details and you go through the pain of telling your credit card company that there are unapproved charges against your card. Credit Cards may be a safer payment method but many only protect you for transactions above £100 (UK).

The second ‘scam’ that I am seeing a lot is not a true scam, but rather dishonesty/virtual theft in eBay auctions. EBay is like the Wild West these days with some peoples morals taking a back seat to financial gain. I have lost count of the number of auctions that I have been bidding in that show signs of Shill bidding. There are sellers preventing an item selling at below their desired sum by making a big shill bid at the end of the auction in the hope of bumping up the end price above their greed threshold. Why do they not set a reserve ? Because that costs them money and may put off bidders. If the sellers attempt to push up the end price fails, they have ‘won’ the item but just cancel the sale and relist it the next month. If asked about the previous sale they give the usual excuses for it falling through. Some sellers specialise in thermal cameras and other expensive kit and I see this behaviour from them often as I get de ja vu seeing the same items appear, sell, reappear, sell, reappear…. You get the idea ! The lack of ANY feedback from previous sales of the item helps to confirm that it never really sold to anyone but the seller and was then cancelled. For me, if I get the item at, or below, my maximum bid, I am content, even if shill bidding is suspected. It is annoying though when a seller is clearly just trying to extract a sum that they want which may be unrealistic and so wastes everyone’s time. I have also recently had more people being unhappy with the end price and either refusing to ship the item or claiming to have shipped it and the tracking being absent or a fake number provided for eBay. In every case I have received a refund from eBay but it is a waste of time all the same.

So, dear readers, it is wise to treat all direct sale offers and ‘bargains’ with appropriate caution and do not get caught out by shill bidding ramping an eBay auction up to a price with which you are not comfortable. The dishonest sellers will forever be a presence, however unwelcome, on eBay. And do not get me started on Facebook Marketplace ! That selling platform is an absolute Sh*t show when it comes to scammers ! Remember …. Only pay using a method that protects you against scammers. Thermal cameras appear to be a very popular scamming item at the moment, likely due to the pandemic use of the technology. There are bargains out there but just be careful.


Whilst writing this post I was reminded of the Sandman story. For your entertainment I shall repeat it here  :)

Sam worked at a builders merchants store.
Sam asked if he could buy some loose sand from the company and after paying he received a receipt for the purchase
Sam filled a wheelbarrow full of loose sand and headed for the site exit.
At the exit to the Site Sam presented the security guard with his receipt for the sand and was sent on his way.
Sam asked to buy more loose sand from his employer and they were happy to oblige.
Sam made numerous sand purchases over a period of months and the site guard became so used to seeing Sam leaving with his wheelbarrow full of loose sand that he barely bothered to check the sales receipt.
No one thought to ask Sam what all the sand was for and it was a very inexpensive product so a staff member purchasing such raised no eyebrows.
During a product stock take a strange anomaly came to light. The company held stock of some very nice and expensive wheel barrows and there was a significant difference between the expected and actual stock holding.
After some thought, someone realised what had happened….. Sam was buying cheap sand and obtaining the required receipt….. he did not want the sand, he wanted the expensive wheel barrows with which he carried it off site in plain view of the security guard. Theft through obfuscation and deception.

Scams come in all manner of guises and some are so clever as to be almost invisible, even in plain sight.


The Sandman story has many variants and the Snopes site discusses them…

“There was a man who had worked at a factory for twenty years. Every night when he left the plant, he would push a wheelbarrow full of straw to the guard at the gate.
The guard would look through the straw, and find nothing and pass the man through.

On the day of his retirement the man came to the guard as usual but without the wheelbarrow.

Having become friends over the years, the guard asked him, "Charlie, I've seen you walk out of here every night for twenty years. I know you've been stealing something. Now that you're retired, tell me what it is. It's driving me crazy."

Charlie simply smiled and replied, "Okay, wheelbarrows!"


The wheelbarrow legend has been set in a number of different countries, including Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, and the Soviet Union.
In a different form of this legend, a child wheels a bicycle bearing a sack of sand past Mexican or German border guards every day. The guards concentrate their energies on the sack of sand, completely failing to recognize the boy is smuggling bicycles.
Another version of the "border guards" variant deals with a man who daily crosses a frontier leading a donkey bearing a sack of rice. The guards diligently search the bags of rice each day but find nothing. Of course, what's really being smuggled is rice (or, in some tellings, donkeys).

Origins:   The concept of "hiding in plain sight" can often be an effective form of camouflage: sometimes the best form of concealment is not to try to hide something at all, but rather to make it such a familiar part of its surroundings that no one pays it any mind. That principle is at work in this tale of a clever thief who manages to steal from his employer for years while remaining completely undetected the whole time, because the manner and object of his pilfering are such thoroughly ordinary parts of his everyday environment.”


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