Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Just Announced ... A New eBay Safety Initiative to Combat Online Fraud or is it More eBay Propaganda?

eBay has announced a new initiative informing its members that it is implementing a new process to combat fraud. We believe this announcement is nothing more than propaganda and was made to lull eBay members into believing that eBay is taking a proactive stance towards fraud. However, eBay is doing nothing more than providing its members with another false sense of security by implementing an additional layer of ineffective security.

The following announcement was made on April 9, 2007 by Rob Chesnut, Senior Vice President of eBay's Global Trust & Safety.

***A Message From Rob Chesnut – Combating Online Fraud***

April 09, 2007 | 09:21AM PST/PT

Hello...I'm Rob Chesnut, eBay's Senior Vice President in charge of Global Trust & Safety. As you may know, over the last several months we've been working on a number of initiatives that comprise a new, more proactive approach to securing the safety of the marketplace. For instance, last fall we implemented listing restrictions to help reduce counterfeits on the site. In January, we changed our buyer protection plan to encourage the use of safe, insured payments through PayPal. We've been protecting bidders on high-end items through the Safeguarding Members ID project, and we're testing Detailed Seller Ratings to help buyers choose sellers who offer the best customer experience through feedback 2.0, the next generation of our feedback system.

Early results from these and other behind-the-scenes efforts show we're moving in the right direction. We're seeing a significant reduction in fake Second Chance offers, for instance, and fewer reports of potential counterfeit listings in the categories most favored by scammers. Of course, as we make changes, the scammers also adapt their methods. While I'm pleased with our direction and progress, I also want to help the Community understand this is an ongoing effort that requires an aggressive long-term approach.

Some of these actions have caused some legitimate concerns in the Community, and we've worked hard to address them with education and communication. With Safeguarding Member IDs specifically, we're working to improve the user interface – we know this is the right policy, but we also know we can improve the user experience, and we're working on it.

We've launched feedback 2.0 on eight eBay international sites, and the initial reaction so far has been encouraging. We're closely watching how this improved feedback system works, and listening to feedback from eBay members in these markets.

Proactive Fraud Reduction
Today I want to let buyers and sellers know about another security measure we're taking. For safety reasons, items reportedly most favored by fraudsters may not be viewable for several hours before the listings are indexed into Search results. These new listings are still viewable on the site through My eBay or if you search for the specific item number; however, they are not immediately visible through a keyword search or Browse.

To maximize exposure for these listings and ensure that buyers who browse by category see these items, we've made an important change. Any listings impacted by this review process will appear in the "Newly Listed" sort based on when they are made visible in Search (as opposed to when they are listed.) This ensures they will appear at the top of default Browse results - as well as within the "Newly Listed" sort option for Search - where they belong.

What kinds of listings will be impacted?
Unfortunately, it's not possible for us to give you criteria, because that information could be used by scammers to work around our Trust and Safety efforts. Overall, however, we expect this security measure to impact only a fraction of listings.

Let me say that I understand that this has some impact for our sellers, but with the change to how we sort listings, and the fact that most bidding occurs in the final 12 hours of a listing, we believe it's the right step to take. I know we share the same goal – to keep eBay a welcoming, safe marketplace for both our buyers and our sellers.

To learn more about these changes, please read our Frequently Asked Questions.

Join me at the next Town Hall
Trust & Safety will be the focus of Bill Cobb's next monthly Town Hall on April 30 at 2 p.m. Pacific time. I hope you’ll join me, Matt Halprin, and a number of other eBay leaders as we talk to Bill about Trust & Safety and answer member questions.

Again, I appreciate your support – working together, our efforts are helping keep the marketplace a safe place to buy and sell.


Rob Chesnut
Senior Vice President, Global Trust & Safety
So eBay has a new initiative for proactive fraud reduction; it appears that eBay is going to review specific items that are frequently listed on its platforms by thieves that are either hijacking innocent member accounts or are creating new accounts for the intent to defraud. Isn't this what eBay's much touted Fraud Automated Detection Engine (FADE) program is supposed to do?

Announced in 2002, by eBay CEO Meg Whitman, FADE is an automated program that collects information reported by defrauded members, and compiles the specific items in a database; FADE then predicts which new listings are fraudulent and prevents them from uploading on eBay's platforms. Although eBay has always been vague about FADE, we know that it has never pre-screened listings that were uploaded through eBay's Turbo Lister or other third-party programs, as those listings are immediately indexed and visible on eBay's platforms.

Please note that in Rob Chesnut's announcement yesterday, he stated:

For safety reasons, items reportedly most favored by fraudsters may not be viewable for several hours before the listings are indexed into Search results. These new listings are still viewable on the site through My eBay or if you search for the specific item number; however, they are not immediately visible through a keyword search or Browse.
Chesnut never announced that any listings detected as fraudulent through this pre-screening process would be prevented from appearing on eBay, nor did he even mention if the new process would pre-screen listings created through Turbo Lister or other third-party programs.

The Nekkid Truth believes that this announcement was made as an excuse to satisfy member complaints for eBay's indexing delays, as listings created through eBay's Sell Your Item (SYI) form normally do not appear on eBay platforms for 7 or more hours, shorting members exposure for their listings. Member complaints are prevalent on eBay community boards that sellers are paying for more hours of listing visibility than they are receiving.

Although we do not know what items eBay is pre-screening, we are still finding the same fraudulent listings for vehicles, boats, heavy machinery, cameras, electronics, baby carriages, prosthetics, musical instruments, and event tickets that we found before. Three hours after Chesnut's announcement was made, and now over 24 hours later, fraudulent listings created through Turbo Lister and other third-party programs still appear on eBay platforms immediately after being uploaded and indexed. Since we know that FADE never pre-screened these listings, we strongly doubt that the newly announced process is pre-screening them either.

The new pre-screening process is just as inefficient and flawed as FADE is. Hasn't eBay woken up to the fact that its Turbo Lister program is the favorite listing tool for thieves and that any new process should be pre-screening listings created with this program and other third-party listing programs?

eBay, it is time to return to the drawing board. How about implementing a fail safe method for credentialing new members, imposing selling restrictions on newly created and recently activated dormant accounts, and automatically reviewing aberrant buyer activity? It is time for eBay to invest the money and build a new platform that is truly secure instead of trying to patch the gaping holes with processes that are blatantly ineffective for detecting and eliminating fraud.

We will begin to believe that eBay has credibility and accept its announcements seriously once it has proven that it has a zero tolerance level towards fraud on its platforms and that it is diligently protecting its members. eBay, stop making excuses and hiding behind your venue status.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Nekkid Truth,
I just wanted to let you know that ebay really did set some filters the past few months...to stop MY ebay scam WARNING ad from running, not for any of the real scammers. They actually tried to convince me the same filter they blocked me with would block the scam ads! All they really did was block me from using the "relist" feature and they remove my "unsold" item to try to make it more difficult for me to help other ebayers.
I have been writing to ebay's security team for the past year with my tips on how to make filters to screen scam ads. I finally started some warning ads that would draw the attention of ebayers who aren't familiar with "guides" as warnings. (I have 5 of those running as well) It appears they are more concerned with me being a nuisance than people getting robbed and mentally abused.
That to me says a lot about ebay.
Just my two cents worth.