How do I buy Bitcoins safely face-to-face?



I've made a contact via and am going to buy some coins with cash. The seller is not verified, but as we will meet, it sounds ok:

  • I show him the cash.
  • He transfers the Bitcoins.
  • We wait one block.
  • I give him the cash.

Is this safe enough or is there anything I should take care of? Any scams known?

He requested to use my mobile internet, though (will enable Wi-Fi hotspot on the smartphone).


Posted 2013-09-04T12:21:40.247

Reputation: 405

I guess that waiting a little longer is not possible, otherwise I would suggest doing so. – fNek – 2014-01-07T17:48:19.097



Shamelessly summarized from this extensive guide on local transactions:

  • You want to meet in a sufficiently public location, such as a pub or mall, preferably one that has an open wifi.
  • If you have agreed on terms in beforehand, print out what you agreed upon and take it with you.
  • If you have not agreed on terms yet, be sure to check the current price of bitcoin during the meeting.
  • Wait for the transaction to complete and check if the right amount was paid. If the other person is willing to wait around for one additional block together that is a good sign.
  • Specify your expectations in advance: When and where to meet, what each person will have on hand to make the deal, how the price for the bitcoins will be calculated.
  • Consider taking a second person along for additional safety.


Posted 2013-09-04T12:21:40.247

Reputation: 51 063

5 features a transaction service which guarantees that bitcoins have arrived to your wallet.

  • You get a secret code when the bitcoin seller enables transaction service (escrow enabled) on the trade

  • When the bitcoin seller releases the transaction the seller gets SMS with the your secret code

  • Ask the seller and if he/she knows your secret code from his/her SMS it is safe to hand over the cash as you know bitcoins are then in your wallet

  • Now you can transfer bitcoins from wallet to any wallet you wish

Sometimes when somebody has suggested a deal where there the payment is 50% now and 50% later, it is a sign of potential scam.

Mikko Ohtamaa

Posted 2013-09-04T12:21:40.247

Reputation: 2 407

One more thing: Meet in a public place like a bar. – Murch – 2013-09-04T12:47:20.700

They have interesting services, yes. But I didn't set it up and it costs 1% fee actually, so the question was rather meant without escrow service. – Borph – 2013-09-04T14:11:39.157


My answer would be: "There is no way, to protect self from rapid scammer."

You are, probably, should spent a great time with seller, say 3, may be 4 hours.

E.g. See this thread: If confirmation takes 10 minutes, how will I buy coffee at Starbucks?

Another way is to use an arbiter, e.g.

Bitcoin arbitration marketplace Protect yourself against online fraud with Bitcoin's m-of-n transactions.

Before you go to give your money to seller, an arbiter confirm transaction, wait for seller's confirmation, than send bitcoins to you.


Posted 2013-09-04T12:21:40.247

Reputation: 81