Short article from MSN UK Money that lists a few of the higher profile scams that sellers have pulled off on eBay in the last few years, they list a second chance offer scam, a fake ticket scam, empty box scams and even 1 incident where someone made a completely fake eBay site I guess in a effort to grab ID’s.
While the overwhelming majority of people using eBay are honest, there are a few rogue traders who have used this goodwill with criminal intent.
We take a look at some of the most outrageous, audacious and downright absurd cons carried out in recent times and what you should watch out for.
Couple net £300k from ‘second chances’
In October 2005, married couple Nicolae and Adriana Cretanu were jailed, for three and a half years and 30 months respectively, for an elaborate two-year ruse.
The pair stole nearly £300,000 through a plot masterminded by a relative, George Titar, in Romania.
They advertised imaginary high-value goods including cars, motorcycles and electronics, plus war memorabilia, tickets and even parachute trousers on eBay. Bidders, described as “idiots” by the fraudsters, were then contacted by the gang (using pseudonyms) to say their bids had failed to secure the items. They were offered a ‘second chance’ to buy similar products and told to pay by Western Union money transfer, but received nothing.
You can beat these scams by… treating any ‘second chance’ you’re given to buy goods outside the confines of eBay with suspicion. eBay now requires sellers to accept Paypal as a payment method. If you’re concerned you might be scammed, ask to pay by Paypal as your payments will be protected.
Gang nabs £200,000
A group of conmen managed to net almost £200,000 by hijacking eBay users accounts, advertising goods for sale and then pocketing the cash.
More than 160 people were conned by the scam, which ran between 2003 and 2004.
The gang were jailed for up to three years.
You can beat these scams by… not responding to unsolicited emails. The gang secured the details necessary to hack into the accounts by sending out emails claiming to be from eBay. People who clicked on a link in the email were redirected to a fake site.
As a general rule, eBay will not email users requesting personal information.
The Xbox boxes
A gaggle of wily scammers managed to turn cardboard into gold when they auctioned empty Xbox boxes for hundreds of pounds.
Listings for Xbox 360 boxes started to crop up on eBay, with pictures of a boxed device but descriptions including lines such as “this is just a box”. As the prices were so low, eager gamers bid on the listings, with many clicking just before the end of an auction – without reading the description in full – only to pay for their goods before it was too late.
You can beat these scams by… making sure you always read the small print. If it looks too good to be true then it probably is.
Scammers create fake eBay
In 2002, fraudsters set up a fake lookalike website in a bid to steal credit card information off eBay users.
The scammers sent emails asking recipients to log on to ebayupdates.com and enter key in their financial data.
The mail read: ‘Dear Ebay [sic] Member, We at Ebay are sorry to inform you that we are having problems with the billing information of your account.”
It is not clear how many users fell victim to the scam.
You can beat these scams by… as with the previous scam, just not responding to unsolicited mails. As a general rule, eBay will not email users requesting personal information.
Man nets £62,000 selling fake tickets
Gilbert Vartanian was arrested for extensive fraud that is believed to have earned him over £61,628.98 ($93,000) (£62,000) from more than 10 victims.
Vartanian advertised tickets to various sporting events as well as Rolex watches. The ads instructed customers to send him cheques and money orders, usually to his private postal mailbox.
Vartanian was jailed for two years and told to pay restitution to his victims.
You can beat these scams by… avoiding any invitation to buy goods outside the confines of eBay. If you’re concerned, ask to pay by Paypal as your payments will be protected.
The man who scammed the scammers
Sick of swindles, one eBay buyer amassed an army of auction site users to sting a scammer. In spring 2004, Jeff Harris agreed to sell an Apple G4 Powerbook for a friend, and set up an eBay.com auction. He was approached by an interested UK buyer, Gianluca Sessarego, who offered £1,391.62 ($2,100) plus shipping costs. The money, Sessarego said, would be paid through an escrow service. Harris recognised that the escrow site was a fake, and decided to catch the scammer red-handed.
He informed eBay, who found that Sessarego’s account had been hijacked, while Jeff – helped by online forum users – hatched a quite fantastic A Team-esque plan.
They fashioned a Powerbook made from cardboard and sticky tape, dubbed the P-P-P-Powerbook, and shipped it, using donations to cover costs. The scammer – who received the worthless delivery after several weeks’ hold-up by customs officials – was left to pay hefty UK import taxes.
Some general safety tips
For the majority of eBay’s 14.5 million British users, transactions are positive and scams are in the minority. The online auction site will ban sellers that contravene rules and have a number of tools in place to help protect buyers and sellers, and have issued common sense advice on keeping safe.
Pay safely: It is compulsory for sellers to offer PayPal as one of the payment methods. Choosing this option means that you are protected on any item you buy.
Check seller information: Look out for sellers with high seller ratings (they will be more visible than sellers with lower ratings who will be demoted). In general, the more information you can find on the seller, the better. Be wary of anyone who has no sales history.
Use common sense: The most important thing to look out for is offers that seem too good to be true. There are loads of bargains on eBay, but common sense should help you identify the suspicious ones.
Never buy via a third party: eBay never acts as a third party. If a seller tries to convince you otherwise, this should set the alarm bells ringing.
Know your tights on returns: Every business that trades on eBay has to meet UK laws and show clear contact details. When a business trades in fixed price items, returns must be offered to buyers.
Live chat: If your eBay account is taken over by a fraudster, make use of the 24-hour Live Chat facility.