I’m writing this in August of 2023, and scams in the resell marketplace are going crazy. I’ve got a lot of links on where to buy used gear, and I still like those pages, but I don’t like how often we’re seeing people get ripped off… especially newer jumpers who are just learning the ropes.

When you’re buying used gear, the best method to keep from getting ripped off is to use an escrow service. A lot of riggers offer this; basically you pay the escrow agent, and the seller will ship the gear to that agent. Hopefully this person is a rigger, who can inspect the gear and verify that what is being sold matches the description the buyer and seller agreed upon. If everything checks out, the rigger sends payment to the seller, and delivers the gear to the buyer. Usually there’s a small fee associated with this service.

My rigger doesn’t like to handle other people’s money, so we typically do a variation on that theme. The seller ships to my rigger. When the gear checks out, I pay the seller, and after payment is verified to be received, delivers the gear. If he finds something wrong with the gear that wasn’t disclosed, I’ll try to renegotiate the price. If we cannot come to agreement, my rigger mails the gear back to the seller.

The point is, I’m not sending money for gear I haven’t inspected. And the seller is not sending me gear without receiving funds. We’re trying to protect each other, and keep the risk low for everyone.

Good ideas to verify the authenticity of the seller: do not buy from a social media account that isn’t a person. If it’s a legitimate skydive store selling used gear (these exist too), they have a website and a phone number (and a reputation). Verify it’s a real store by checking with friends in the sport and go for it. If the Ranch Pro Shop lists used gear, you can be sure it’s been inspected by their rigger and the description will match the goods. If it’s a Facebook user named “Skydive Gears” you might want to apply some skepticism.

I like to ask the person where they jump, see who we know in common, maybe even call their drop zone to verify that the person actually exists. Get a reference from their rigger, perhaps…

Want more ways to protect yourself? Here’s a great video from Tony Bourke. Take a watch and learn how to protect yourself.