I've heard about a few cunning extortion rackets in my time, many of them involving eBay. Some of the processes involved in these deceptions have been mind-bogglingly complex – the sort of thing that even a bestselling crime author couldn't dream up in a million years.

However, criminal masterminds aren't always so subtle. Sky News reported today on a villain who used, shall we say, much more direct tactics.

And what a perfectly simple idea. Advertise your car on eBay, insist on a cash payment, and when they turn up, whip out your shooter. I can see a wave of copycat robberies taking place up and down the country. After Sudoku and carrying knives, the nation needs a new craze.

There is a lesson to be learned here. It may very well look like a bargain, but why would someone not be happy with the funds being transferred into their bank account? We live in a society that is fast becoming 'cashless' – no one stuffs tenners under their mattress any more. However you look at it, vast bundles of banknotes are bad news because money is pretty much impossible to trace, should it be taken from its rightful owner.

Even if it is your dream car, at a good price, make sure you ask the right questions. Contact the seller and ask why exactly they want cash. If the line goes dead, you can be pretty sure that you were going to be ripped off in one way or another.