This information is presented to help warn potential eBay auction buyers about the serious dangers that you could face if you are not careful, well informed and cautious while shopping on eBay. Knowledge is your best defense, read and learn how to protect yourself.
A shocking number of eBay seller’s accounts are being “hijacked” for the sinister purpose of stealing your money. I know this all-too-well because my own account was taken over by pirates recently. These evil scoundrels are out to take unsuspecting buyers for every dollar that they can get. This scam is perpetrated by stealing the good name and honest reputation of highly respected eBay sellers. The pirates “sell” non-existent items (they even steal the pictures and descriptions from other listings). Buyers pay the scam "seller" in good faith and receive NOTHING but grief in return.
Fortunately, for me, I monitor my account very closely and I was able to thwart those rapscallions before any real damage could be done. However, those shameless perpetrators just moved on to some other innocent eBay member and continued to try to STEAL YOUR "TREASURE" (YOUR HARD-EARNED CASH).
SELLERS, BE WARNED - MONITOR YOUR EBAY ACCOUNT VERY CLOSELY!
I learned quite a bit of very useful information from my ID theft experience and I thought it might be a good idea to let others know how to spot these low-life rogues, before they succeed in stealing your precious "doubloons".
Here are a few things to watch for that might tip you off to a potential “scam” listing:
1. The "seller" looks very respectable, with a very good to excellent feedback rating. There is no reason for a criminal to hijack the account of a disreputable seller. The bad guys are looking for highly respected sellers, the more honest and professional the better. Consequently, a 100% feedback rating and glowing feedback comments do not guarantee a safe transaction. In fact, the better the seller, the more attractive they are to the bad guys. They want to use the seller’s great reputation to lull potential victims into a false sense of security. This is done by eBay identity theft, commonly called "ID piracy".
2. The “seller” asks potential bidders to contact them before bidding. They will give very legitimate looking reasons for you to contact them directly. The real reason is to get you to buy “off-eBay” (where you "the buyer" have almost no protection). The scammer will try to convince you that this is done to save on eBay fees so that you can “get a better deal”.
3. The suspect “seller” is often listing a very expensive item that is not usually offered by the real owner of the account. When you see a $3,000.00 camera lens for sale by an eBayer who usually sells a lot of books, teddy bears or DVD movies, you should be very suspicious. Most people who legitimately sell expensive high-tech units tend to specialize in those items. Look at the sellers “Other Items For Sale” and their feedback to see if they regularly sell products similar to the item that is offered in the listing. If the item for sale looks "out-of-place" for this seller, you need to do more investigating before making any kind of commitment.
4. The “deal” looks like a fantastic opportunity to save a lot of money. When that $3,000.00 camera lens is offered for $800.00, you should already know better (your mother told you all about this). Legitimate sellers do not “give away” their products. Since this is not a “real” auction, the item has to be sold "off-eBay", with the pirate’s own version of “Buy-It-Now”. This is actually a “Rip-You-Off-Now” deal. Look for the official eBay "Buy-It-Now" button on the listing. If that "button" is not there, this guy is up to no good! NEVER BUY AN EBAY LISTED ITEM DIRECTLY FROM ANY SELLER... EVER! Legitimate sales are always completed through proper "eBay approved" methods of payment.
NO REPUTABLE SELLER WOULD EVER ASK YOU TO BUY AN EBAY LISTED ITEM DIRECTLY FROM THEM... EVER!
5. Current bidder’s IDs are often displayed as “Private”. This prevents well-informed eBay members from contacting the poor “sucker” to warn him or her about the impending scam. We all try to help each other out when we can, and the bad guys know this. The practice of making all bidders appear as “Private” should be viewed as a red flag. (Although, there are some legitimate reasons for this practice. Just be sure that you know why this is being done before you place a bid.)
6. These suspicious items are usually offered in a “1-Day listing”. Some choose the 2 or 3-day listing option, but rarely. The pirates know that they need to make a quick "hit & run", before their shanghaied "ship" is identified and blown out of the water.
You and I can actually fight these evil buccaneers, maybe we can’t stop all of them, but every fraudulent listing that we can eliminate is at least one less potential innocent victim. EBay is a real community. We owe it to ourselves, and our good “neighbors” to help out by policing the community as the “eyes and ears” for the eBay Trust & Safety Team (eBay’s “Police Force”). Allow me to "arm" you with the best "sabre" to use in this battle.
When you find a suspected scam listing, please report it to eBay Trust and Safety Department. It is very easy to do. Just click on “Report this item” at the bottom of the questionable listing. Select “Fraudulent listing (illegal seller demands...” and also choose “You suspect that the listing is fraudulent you didn’t bid” from the menu of options, AND THEN click “Continue”. It is very important that you complete one more step, click on “Email us with your question or concern”, and include a short note about your suspicion. A simple “Seller requesting off-eBay sale, ID looks hijacked” will do just fine. EBay takes these reports very seriously and acts quickly. Place the item in your “Watch List” and see how quickly it disappears. If you are wrong, and it is a legitimate listing, no harm has been done. Trust and Safety will investigate, you are just saying that you are suspicious, they will know for certain if it is a case of hijacking and take the appropriate action.
The bottom line is, and you have heard it a thousand times (but it is still just as true as ever);
“If the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is!”
Be smart and stay safe!
UPDATE 8/30/06 - If we all watch out for these scum-bags, we can effectively eliminate this malicious scam, by reporting every suspicious listing immediately. Let's show those scallywags that we are mad as heck, and we're not going to take it anymore!
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