A BUYER'S INNATE COMMON SENSE?
When we find members bidding on fraudulent listings on eBay we are dumbfounded, because we see the red flags in the listings instantly, so we don't understand why bidders don't see what is so obvious to us. When coming across a fraudulent listing, alarms should be going off in a member's head, yet a member frequently has put on blinders or rose-colored glasses and ignores the obvious. We find bad grammar and spelling errors, ridiculously low opening bids, items listed in the wrong categories, idiotic excuses for off eBay contact, and offers within the description for Buy It Now, without the standard eBay "Buy It Now" button displayed. Unfortunately, we continuously find people bidding or even worse, making contact and entering into off eBay transactions.
To us, many bidders appear to be naive or gullible. And, if they don't fall into those categories, then they must be lacking common sense and are overcome by greed. As one scammer frequently writes in his listings these bidders are "ready to make the deal of the year" and the scammers are thrilled to take the money and run. Scammers know they won't get caught because they are using false contact information and are receiving instant money transfers sent by victims. Instant money transfer services do not require identification at pick up; all that is required for a scammer to obtain wired funds is the tracking number.
It's truly a shame, but only after someone is victimized and loses money is when he begins his due diligence and sees the red flags he should have noticed long before he gave away his money. Hindsight, is indeed 20/20, and it is unfortunate, but, by the time an eBay member has become a victim and has realized he was scammed, it is far too late to get the money back.
Scammer lies defy logic, yet gullible eBay members are "believers" and get caught in the web of deception. When scammers write excuses in their listings such as they can't access their eBay email or they can't access their home or work email and to use alternative methods for contact, doesn't it make you wonder? Doesn't your radar go up? It doesn't make any difference where a person is accessing eBay or his email from - it can be from home, work, the public library, a prison, an Internet cafe, a hotel lobby, a bus station, an airport, or a wireless connection. Most people can access their home email address from work and vice versa; and, it doesn't make any difference because if you can access the Internet, eBay can be accessed from anywhere.
If a member can log onto eBay, list items and access his account, he can always access the My eBay My Messages folder and read any messages sent via eBay's "Ask Seller a Question" (ASQ) function. Some members have the forwarding preference turned off; therefore, a duplicate copy will not be forwarded to a member's registered email address, however, the original message is always in the My Messages folder. Scammers sometimes forget to disable the forwarding feature, and tell you not to use ASQ so that their thievery won't be detected by the member whose account they are using for deception. If a message was forwarded to the real member's registered email address, that member would be alerted that his account was hijacked.
Scammers lie and have many excuses. They have the gall to say that the My Messages folder is full because it has too many messages in it, eBay hasn't activated it yet, it is locked, it doesn't work and eBay has been notified, it is disabled, it has a glitch, it is frozen, it is slow, or else will state some other lame excuse. Do not believe scammers that say that the My eBay My Messages inbox is infected with viruses. The lies are all ruses; it's all nonsense to get potential buyers to make off eBay contact. The My Messages folder holds an unlimited number of messages, there are no capacity or quota issues, and the newest messages always appear first. In fact, in most cases, if no action is required, the messages automatically purge from the folder in 90 days. Messages that are required to be read that appear with a yellow banner and always sent by eBay (such as TKO notices) automatically purge after 180 days.
Always ask yourself if the person you are communicating with is telling you the truth. Don't let scammers bait you with their lies. If you do have communication with a scammer, don't believe it when he says that his PayPal account is frozen and that eBay has authorized that payments may be made through unsafe instant money transfer services such as Western Union and Moneygram. Scammers will even tell you that they have to pay a commission to instant money transfer services and that you should lie and never mention an eBay transaction so they can avoid paying the commission. Instant money transfer services NEVER charge the recipient a commission; they charge the sender a wiring fee. In all honesty, scammers fear that if you mention eBay that the transfer will be stopped. Scammers tell you this lie so you won't be warned by the instant money transfer service to NEVER SEND MONEY TO PEOPLE YOU DO NOT KNOW.
eBay does not verify the trustworthiness of the seller, the availability of the merchandise, specify the payment mechanism, or approve any transactions. eBay does not have its own escrow service and it never holds money for a transaction. If an escrow or shipping company is offered, research it thoroughly and make sure that it is a legitimate company. eBay does not make its members put up bonds, deposits, or insurance. There is no such thing as an "eBay Managed Purchase Protection Account" that the seller must deposit money into; nor is there an eBay inspection period for the buyer. There are no eBay representatives to send payments to. There is no such thing as an "eBay Vehicle Purchase Program" and items being sold on Craigslist are not eligible for any type of eBay protection. eBay does not have warehouses and storage facilities and it never holds merchandise. Merchandise is never pre-crated and held at the shipping company pending a sale and seller directions. Square Trade does not manage eBay accounts or eBay transactions; and it is a separate entity from eBay and only mediates transactions between buyers and sellers for a fee.
Make sure that you always use the blue Place Bid button or the red Buy It Now button in every listing. Verify in your My eBay that you actually bid on or bought an item. DO NOT EVER enter into off eBay transactions. If you do enter into an off eBay transaction, you have absolutely NO recourse.
Scammers attempt to intimidate members with threats in their bogus listings. Frequently, scammers will write that a member must make contact via email before bidding, and if bids are made without approval that beside the bid being canceled, the bidder will be reported to eBay and, negative feedback will be left. Do not be intimidated by these threats. Scammers are just attempting to get you to enter into off eBay transactions. If a bid is canceled, feedback cannot be left by either party. And, hopefully sooner than later, eBay will cancel the bogus listings and secure the account. Scammers do not report members to eBay! Think about it -- scammers want to fly under the eBay radar and don't want to be discovered.
Scammers send fake eBay messages, however, fake invoices and Second Chance offers will NEVER appear in the My eBay My Messages in box. Don't fall prey to fake eBay communications. Check the grammar in the messages. eBay does not make spelling errors. If you are reading the email messages through your email provider, open up the headers and see where the messages originated from. Double-check that the message is in your My eBay My Messages in box. If the message you received through your email provider is not also appearing in your My eBay My Messages in box, then the message you received is a scam.
We suggest that you take additional precautions; change your eBay preferences to only accept email from eBay in text-only format and turn off the Second Chance Offer feature. By taking these precautions, you will immediately be alerted that you have received scam email messages if you receive eBay email with HTML in it or any Second Chance Offers. Remember, if you choose to accept Second Chance Offers they will appear in My eBay with a listing number; they are genuine listings solely for you and will appear as a fixed price Buy It Now listing at the highest bid price you made on a previous listing. If you do decide to change your preferences, also change the email preference in your PayPal account to text-only format. Take these simple precautions, change your preferences, and be safe instead of sorry.
Sellers do not have to ask you for your eBay ID and contact information to send you an invoice. Winner notifications for every transaction are generated by eBay, and the contact information is in eBay's database. You can always check My eBay to determine whether you have won or lost an item, but make sure that you used the Place Bid or Buy It Now button. Don't believe scammer stories such as the seller can't receive payments through PayPal because he is going through a divorce or because of unauthorized activity. Don't believe it when a scammer says he can't talk to you on the phone because he is on vacation, he is on a business trip, or he recently had surgery on his throat or his ears. If a seller says that he is honest, ask yourself why he said that.
Don't rush, take the time to thoroughly read the listings and use common sense. Be leery of sellers that use stock photographs in their listings. Check the history of your trading partner. Check the items the seller currently has for sale, the feedback, and the prior sales/buying history. Put the item you are interested in on your watch list; there are very few one-of-a-kind items on eBay. If the listing says to make contact via email, use eBay's "Ask the Seller a Question" feature instead; the link is in the upper right hand corner of the listing beneath the seller's ID. If you want to make sure that the listing is legitimate, ask the seller to send you a digital photograph of the item with your eBay ID handwritten in the photo. If the item you are interested in has a serial number, ask for a digital photograph of it, and take the next step and verify the serial number with the manufacturer. If you get an excuse, find another seller that will comply with your request.
If you must reply to an email address in a listing, do an advanced search for it and see if it appears in more than one account. eBay only allows members to register one email address per account. Verify the email address and see if it is registered to an eBay account. Do a Google search for the email address, you may very well find it listed on this blog or elsewhere.
If you were looking at a listing and it disappears, the seller did not pull it because he had a lot of people interested in it. eBay pulled the listing because it was a scam.
If you are not familiar with scammer language read the blog entry below dated April 11, 2007, or do a Google search for a phrase. The scammer language is indexed by Google and found with a simple search.
Remember, scammers have an infinite number of phantom items in their non-existent inventories which they constantly bait eBay members with. The scams are not limited solely to eBay; the scams are all over the Internet.
Scammers are terrible liars and they have an unlimited number of excuses. They use many different email addresses, are running multiple schemes, and are operating under multiple hijacked accounts and accounts they created on their own to defraud at any one time. Not one of the scammers has a conscience; each would sell his own mother for a price. They are thieves that haven't been caught by law enforcement. Scammers defraud people all over the world and get away stealing millions of dollars every year; they scam many people everyday. Do not be taken in by scammers; do not become a victim of an Internet crime. Be wary, ask questions, buy defensively.
Look for the clues and don't forgive or overlook any of the red flags. What is obvious to us should be obvious to you. If you use common sense, keep your anti-virus and spyware protection programs up to date, install critical browser patches, pay for all transactions only with a credit card, never pay for transactions via instant money transfer services, never click on unknown links in email messages, and follow the advice written on this blog, you will limit your risk. Do not become a victim of an eBay scammer or a victim of fraud anywhere on the Internet. Be proactive. Be careful. Be diligent. Be observant. Be informed. Be smart.