[QUESTION] Is it OK to ask senders of USPMO to include a written note "For Bitcoin"?

I am concerned many sellers will be caught in triangulation scams if the seller cannot ask the sender of the USPMO to include a note saying “For Bitcoin” or something along those lines. The reason to include a note is to have a reasonable expectation that the sender is aware they are using the money to purchase bitcoin. Otherwise, they may think they are sending the USPMO for for some other reason and be scammed!

BTW, triangulation scams will also effect Cash-in-Mail payment method if they are ever included in Bisq. https://github.com/bisq-network/bisq/issues/1101

Is it OK to ask the seller to include a written note saying “For Purchasing Bitcoin” or “For Bitcoin”? Should this strategy be included in the Bisq wiki to help users avoid triangulation scams?


Good question. I am not familiar with USPMO enough to answer this.

See this: https://bisq.wiki/US_Postal_Money_Order

Also mkuraja on keybase seems to have extensive knowledge of uspmo and so it may be wise to reach out to him about this.

I my opinion (disregarding the scam element) indicating anywhere that something is to be used to buy bitcoin is a bad idea.


Why is mentioning “Bitcoin” in a sealed letter a bad idea?

I don’t think that triangulation scams affect to cash based payment methods. USPMO doesn’t even mind who sends the cash. There is no chargeback possible once you have cash in your hands.
Using the trade id like other payment methods do would have the same effect, and would not reveal that this uspmo is BTC related. I don’t think that the trade protocol for this payment method requires writing the trade id and that must be because it’s not necessary.

1 Like

The following dialog is made up to show how the scam might go.

Scammer: Hello Mrs, G. I am sorry to inform you but your grandson is in trouble. I am his lawyer. I can help him but I need you to send me $3000 USPMO.
Mrs. G: Oh dear! I’ll do anything for my grandson. Just let me know what to do.

Scammer: Sets up USPMO trade through Bisq with Mr. B. using Mrs. G’s address.

Scammer: Don’t worry. We will help you through the process. All you need to do is send a $3000 to Mr. B. Please add the id “123ABC” so we can identify it as your payment.
Mrs. G: Thank you! I’ll have it sent by today.

Mr. B: Receives the payment. Releases escrow to Scammer.
Scammer: Thank you Mrs. G. We received you payment.

At this point, the Scammer has BTC in his possession. Mrs. G is out $3000 and Mr. B has no idea he has participated in a triangulation scam. Maybe in the future, Mrs. G, or a friend of Mrs. G gets wise and comes looking for Mr. B.

The only way I could think of mitigating this attack is to try and make sure the sender (Mrs. G) knows exactly why they are sending the money. Adding a message like “For Purchasing Bitcoin” is a succinct message which would give the sender a clue. “OK, what is this bitcoin thing?” Scammers don’t like the victim asking questions. Not to say the scammer couldn’t come up with a story, but it would make things harder.


The rule

Do not, under any circumstances, include any mentions of "Bisq" or "Bitcoin" or any text other than the trade ID in your payment.

Violating this rule can cause serious problems for you or your trading peer: many banks don’t like anything related to Bitcoin, and may take draconian measures if they sense such a transaction. 

makes sense when dealing with banks and other fintech payment methods that are hostile to bitcoin. It isn’t obvious to me that the same issues are present in these cash payment methods.


But the trade id makes the same function while not directly expose your activity.

Thanks @dmp1ce for explaining how would work. I still think that the one who has the problem is ms G for not verifying who she’s sending the money and why, as at the Bisq side everything is fine. One part got fiat and the other BTC as usual, but law enforcement might not think the same.

I’d rather use the trade ID instead of Bitcoin or Bisq.

1 Like

Hi @dmp1ce

Mentioning Bitcoin would reduce risk of triangulation attempts.

I do not think the Bisq Trade ID would reduce triangulation attempts. As the scammer you just tell the victim to include a reference code that matches the Trade ID.

I worry that mentioning Bitcoin might put the trader at other risks. In countries where I am someone is not allowed to send / receive cash for Bitcoin in the post. Having to explain away a pile of cash with a message for Bitcoin might be difficult.

I am not sure what the solution would be.

1 Like

This already happens with gift cards (MoneyPak, iTunes, etc) and other kinds of money orders like Western Union…not sure there’s a solution. Seems to be a general downside of such payment methods, unrelated to Bisq.

Maybe it could be a regional suggestion to add a note. I don’t think it is a problem if authorities know about cash bitcoin purchases in the USA, yet! :eyes:

1 Like

I also thought that receiving cash is 100% safe, until this happened: Spanish "justice", fraud, MITM, convicted because 0.5% of 1000 is 50 - #5 by xmrk .

I would perhaps tweak the message to include the seller id, in this case something from his onion address, so the message would be like “I am buying bitcoins from <insert first 5 characters of peer’s onion address here>” . (Or trade id instead of seller id.) For cash deposits, the btc buyer could be required to hand-write the message with a pen onto the paper bank receipt, and send a photo of this to the seller. I really do not see a downside, banks or post office are not going to see the message.

Also note that I had two other similar scam attempts, both on localbitcoins in 2015 or 2016. Fortunately I was very aware of the risks. In one case the victim sent me money with message about dogs/puppies.

In another case, the scammer put a fake sale ad on ebay, the payment message was some numbers. The interesting thing is that the scammer provided me with bank receipt and he hand-wrote the message … except he did it in Photoshop. Fortunately it was obviously photoshopped, he just put draw a white rectangle over the photo of the receipt, and wrote the message over that rectangle. But if he had been a little more sophisticated, perhaps he could have fooled me.

So perhaps rare, but definitely can and does happen, cannot believe that such scams are not more rampant on bisq.

edit: ok, I see the downside if you send the message with the postal order, but this not applies to sending just the photo of receipt, hope it is possible with USPMO also. Even if selling BTC is illegal, you can simply not reveal the photo you received, so the result is the same as having no such photo.

I see that including such a note is still not in the Bisq rules.

Was the final decision on this just to wait until triangulation scams become frequent as Bisq becomes more popular?