eBay Account Hackers - don't be fooled

By Andrea Karim on 21 July 2007 (Updated 18 August 2007) 22 comments

I'm not the type to fall for scams, generally. Thus far, I've never been really screwed over on eBay or anything. But I can totally see how people COULD fall for an eBay scammer.

Here are some tips for avoiding getting scammed by an eBay hacker. Below that is my story about a recent brush with an eBay hacker.

  • Unless you've done this before, don't accept overseas deals that involve wiring money to Europe, Asia, or (especially) Africa
  • Be suspicious when the seller is overly eager to do business with you, and starts asking for money right away
  • Think that the 100% rating means that you're working with a great seller - don't be so sure. Hackers sneakily break into sellers' accounts and use their good rating to attract customers. Check to see how active the seller's account is - when was the last time they sold something? If it was more than 3 months ago, think twice.
  • Did the listing disappear the moment you emailed to ask about it? Fishy.
  • Always contact the seller through the seller's eBay account - don't use any provided email addresses, or...
  • If you do contact someone via an email address provided on the item's page, make sure to note the seller ID
  • As always, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
  • Check the seller's email address against the list at The Nekkid Truth, which maintains an updated list of known eBay scammers

My dad is the kind of guy who likes to fantasize about buying a car for YEARS before he actually buys one. Thus, the past three years (and probably the next seven) are what we will one day look back on and refer to as "The Porsche Pining Years".

Yes, my dear ol' dad wants a Porsche. And who could blame him? Those are some snazzy looking cars, and they're so fun to drive. After a couple of years of resistance, I finally got in on the act and started looking on eBay Motors to see what I could see. For Dad's sake.

And what I saw was a real beaut. A 1961 Porsche 356B. Perfect inside and out. Pics are great, so I email for details. He's got great eBay feedback (100% approval rating), although not from selling cars, but I figure that there's a first time for everything.

I call my father to persuade him to look at the listing, but he can't find it. I go back to look at it, and lo and behold, it's gone. But I get an email a few minutes later from a Mr. Ray Clampp (ray.clampp@gmail.com):

Hello,
Where are you from?
First of all I must inform you that I'm located in Austria.
I recently moved here with my job and I had the intention to take the car here with me, but I discovered that it is very hard to register a US car here and the taxes are very high. Not to mention that here the gasoline is much more expensive. So, unfortunately, I had to leave the car in the US.

The price is $9,400.... The delivery will take between 12 and 15 business days (with insurance and 30 days return policy). I will pay for the shipping! If the car does not matches 100% the description, you will return it in maximum 30 days and I will pay for the return shipping fees.
Payment will be made through eBay so we can be both protected!

If you are interested please let me know. I have reserved the car for you, but I will need your answer in the next couple of days.

What's that ringing sound in my head? Could those be... alarm bells?

Let's go over how much is wrong with this guy:

  • Not located in the US
  • Offers to pay shipping, AND return shipping fees if I don't like it
  • Takes the listing down as soon as someone expresses interest in the vehicle
  • Car is well below KBB value
  • Claims to be individual seller, but car pictures are taken outside of what is obviously a dealership
  • He's being bloody pushy - no one offering a great deal is going to be so ready to sell it to you immediately

Also, when I had first tried to figure out where the car was located, I used the zip code that was used for the ad, which gave me a result in Tenessee. But the ad stated that the car was in Ohio. At the time, I figured that the guy had made a mistake. Hey, I've made mistakes listing stuff on eBay before. It happens. But after this email, I'm pretty sure the guy is a scammer.

I write back and tell him thanks, but no thanks. Here's what he says in return:

We can negotiate the price,what you said?I have stop the auction.
The car is Maine ready for delivery.For this transaction we will use eBay Vehicle Purchase Protection. I'm offering you a secure deal,they will set up the shipping and payment details.You'll receive the car papers along with the car! The car will be inspected by eBay staff.
Here is how the process works:
- you give me your full name and shipping address,
- I start a transaction on eBay Vehicle Purchase Protection,
- they send you the payment instructions,
- you send the money into eBay trust account,
- they confirm me that they received the funds,
- I ship the car,
- you receive the car,
- they send me the money.

Here's a few words on how this transaction is going to be handled: the most important thing in all my activity here is that I am affiliated with eBay Motors where I have a purchase protection account for up to $20,000. eBay will take care of the financial part by holding the payment in their bank account managed by an eBay representative (they will provide you with that information in the purchase invoice which you will receive from them). They will hold the money until the car is delivered to you, with properly executed title. You have 5 days for the inspection period. If the car is not like described you will have to ship it back in 30 business days on my expense, but I am sure that you will love it.
If you agree please send me your full name, shipping address and ebay user name in order to start the transaction!

Oh, good. The car is in Maine now. What you said?

Most people who are interested in buying old cars on eBay are my dad's age (not ALL, of course). People my dad's age aren't all savvy about internet scams. Sure, they can spot a shady door-to-door salesman in a second, but tell them you've got a fool-proof way to get them a spotless Porsche with total financial protection, and they might fall for it. My dad wouldn't, but that's mostly because he has no intention of buying.

Also, the process sounds so reassuring, doesn't it? You do it through eBay Motors, so that sounds like a good plan, right? And he had hacked into a legitimate seller's account, so he was using that guy's perfect score to take advantage of people's trust.

I shudder to think about how many people this man has taken for a ride. So to speak.

Anyway, if you have parents or gullible friends who enjoy looking at cars on eBay, please take a moment this weekend to let them know just how easy it is to get scammed. Also, please note that The Nekkid Truth, a blog about eBay scamming, has a great list of email aliases that are used by scammers who hijack legitamite eBay accounts. Just click on the link - the alphabetical list is located on the right side of the page (scroll down a bit). The list is HUGE, and updated regularly, so you can use it for ALL kinds of internet transactions, from craigslist to eBay.

I've actually gotten into the habit of Googling email addresses, just to see what I can see about people. I recommend that everyone else do the same.

And yes, my scammer's email address was on there. And if I Google his address, I get one other result - another listing on eBay, this time for a Ford Model T that he listed and then removed.

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Guest's picture
Misty

Have been an eBay worker bee (in the Account Security Department), I strongly recommend getting the PayPal Security Key. This key will work for all of the companies in the eBay Empire.

It can be found at:
https://www.paypal.com/securitykey

The Key has a price of $5, but it is very much worth it, when you look at all of the ways these people can get at you through the eBay family of companies. If they have your password, that's great, but they won't be able to do anything with it, for they don't have the Key. This can keep your eBay account, and more importantly your PayPal account safe from these third parties.

In regard to passwords, the same rules apply: never have the same password for more than one site on the Internet. If you ARE going to use the same passwords, make sure that eBay, PayPal, your email, and your online banking ones are different, and eBay recommends you change your password every 30-60 days. Personally, since I've had the Key, I've not changed my password as often, as I feel a little more secure.

I would also recommend NEVER clicking on any link in any email, even from eBay (better to be safe than sorry). If eBay or a seller/bidder has something they want to send to you, make sure you open a new browser, log into your eBay account, and check your My Messages Center.

Many times what will happen is you will click their link, sign into your account, and then see information there you are not comfortable giving, nor would eBay never ask for. People see this, close the screen and think "Phew! I got away from that one!" But now they have your User ID and your password.

The last thing I would recommend is using Live Help any time you have a question. You can get real-time help from people on anything from "How do I list something in the fixed price format?" To "Someone's taken over my account, and they're selling computers!" The link for Live Help is found in the top right hand corner of the US page, under the "Java Technology" and "Powered by Sun" logos.

I hope some of that helps, and again, really look into that PayPal Security Key. I have heard tales of it saving people from financial ruin.

Andrea Karim's picture

Thanks for the tips! That's a great analysis. I was wondering about the Paypal security key, having seen a post at The Nekkid Truth.

Myscha Theriault's picture

Wow. Thank God your Dad missed that experience. Googling the email addresses sounds like a great tip. I'm definitely going to try that for new situations, as you suggested.

A friend of mine got a great car for a great deal on Ebay, but apparently, things could have easily gone the other way.

 

Will Chen's picture

One of our awesome readers submitted another "Ray Clampp" email stating that "this person dosen't even change his story- just the vehicle."

From: Ray Clampp [mailto:ray.clampp@gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, July 23, 2007 6:09 PM
To:  [redacted]

Subject: Re:

Hello,
  Where are you from?
  First of all I must inform you that I'm located in Austria.
  I recently moved here with my job and I had the intention to take the
car here with me, but I discovered that it is very hard to register a US
car here and the taxes are very high. Not to mention that here the gasoline
is much more expensive. So, unfortunately, I had to leave the car in the
US.

  The price is $7,400. The car is in excellent condition, no rust, no
technical or cosmetically problems. It has no scratches on and hasn't been
involved in an accident. The motor runs very well.The car was always
garaged. The car is still US registered and the title is clear.

  The delivery will take between 12 and 15 business days (with insurance
and 30 days return policy). I will pay for the shipping! If the car does
not matches 100% the description, you will return it in maximum 30 days and
I will pay for the return shipping fees.
  Payment will be made through eBay so we can be both protected!

  If you are interested please let me know. I have reserved the car for
you, but I will need your answer in the next couple of days.

Thank you,
Ray

Guest's picture
Ron

Wow, we've been searching for this character for almost a week now. He's been trying (in vain I might add!) to sell me a 1957 BMW 507 for $19,400. There were only 252 made and they go upwards of 350k-500 dollars!! In fact, like the original blog mentioned, I was able to find the same exact car (pictures copied/pasted) from a legitimate dealership in California (Fantasy Junction.com). Incidentally, I think I found "your" Porsche on that site. He uses cars from the "Cars We Sold" category and not the present inventory (smart). Anyway, I contacted the company and they informed me that the BMW had sold for, get this, $600k dollars to somebody in the midwest! Sooo, just south of 20k dollars seems like a great deal, right?? Well, good old Ray Clampp was sensing my reluctance to commit. He stated he'd negotiate and sell for $15,400. Wow, it must be my lucky day! Needless to say, I've kept him on the hook now for almost a week, attempting to learn more about him while still expressing a modicum of interest. Here's something else: I live in Kansas. After I told him that he THEN informed me the car was in Maine. The furthest US point from Kansas (contiguous states) is, anyone, anyone? Yep, Maine. That was, of course, after I offered to come inspect the car myself. "Sorry, I'm out of the country (Austria)" was his reply. Ok, so my curiosity is still piqued so I do several Ebay(pick a country) searches and he's selling a Buick on Ebay China, the previously mentioned Model "A" in the US and Germany, and, well, we're still looking. I also caught another add just hours after the BMW disappeared off Ebay and it was for another high-end car. Well, you get the picture. Ray, or whatever his name is, will have no choice but to change his name/tactics soon. That is what bothers me. I contacted Ebay and sent them the entire email traffic on this guy. Since I don't have his user name, they can't do much. I asked Ray in an email (playing the naive Ebayer that I am) that I was interested in his feedback. He sent me what I'm sure is somebody else's userid (smackthat27va). Whoever that is had only bought 3 things and doesn't have any selling history. Go figure. I would like to hear anything else anybody has to say about this guy. Spread the word, "Ray, we're hot on your trail"!! ;)

Guest's picture
The Shadow

The same person seems to be active on Ebay again today, using a Packard picture and data taken from a dealer's website. Look at http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=230155428422
and then at
http://www.prewarcar.com/show_prewar_car.asp?car_id=41228. Same E-mail, same spiel, different Ebay "seller" -- perhaps this is a hijacked account, since the same listing appeared earlier in the day with a different "seller", and was removed during the morning.

Guest's picture
Ron

Hello again,

His userid is jfavrecpa He has 9 other listings with the same story. I've been talking with Ebay Customer Support for the last hour. They don't seem as passionate about this as me... Please, spread the word if you can!

Andrea Karim's picture

He found this blog site. I emailed him and told him he was despicable. He's well aware that everyone knows about him.

Because he uses Gmail, he ends up on my chat client all the time. He just popped in to let me know that I am "very very ugly" and that he is "sad for me" because he had "beautiful beautiful woman and what do you have? Nothing but $25 gift certificate."

Also, I "look like shrek". I have to admit that he's starting to grow on me.

Thanks to all the people who wrote in about this, to share your experiences and to add your advice. I emailed eBay about it several times, and told Gmail. As I understand it, none of them really care that much about the whole deal. It's been frustrating, but incredibly entertaining, to say the least.

Guest's picture
Ron

Andrea,
Here is the email I just sent to good ol' Ray Clampp. Oh, I'd say he knows now! Incidentally, I didn't mention your name or weblog until I read your last entry.
Have a good one, Ron (From Kansas!)

Ray,

I guess I'm kind of indecisive at this point. I really would prefer to look at the car and inspect it for myself. You really never can be too sure, ya know?
I mean, there are so many other nice cars to choose from. I like Packards, Camaro's, Chevelle's SS's, Jaguar XK's, Buick's, etc. You know what I mean?
I sure hope you didn't jack some poor user id from an innocent bystander (smackthat27va), or maybe that's your "good" userid? Hmm... As for the Lexus you sold on Ebay, (Long Beach MS, 39560) and the cars you're "selling" in St Louis MO, (63115), I don't really know what to think about that. Clue me in?
Oh yeah, that BMW, the one you copied/pasted pictures and tried to pass off as your own? It was sold by Fantasy Junction in California for $600k dollars. I thought you were being awfully generous to offer it at $19k, but to reduce it to $15,400?!? You should expect potential buyers of high-end autos to know a lot more about the values of these cars.
Oh yeah, in the future, do yourself a favor and google your name and email. The Nekkidtruth.com has you blacklisted on their site. I assume you're hoping to find computer-ignorant people on the internet to prey upon. I shudder at the thought of how many people have fallen for your scams. Very uncool...

Andrea Dickson's weblog sends her regards.

Have a nice day! ;)

P.S. You know, you really only need to sell one of those cars to afford the price of gas in Austria!

Joann Hong's picture

Oh my god re: looks like shrek. Can't think of a more...uh..cute..insult! (recovering from fit of laughter)

Joann Hong

Andrea Karim's picture

Thanks to the commentors on this site, I was finally able to convince eBay to shut down the account that "Ray Clampp" had hijacked. Not that he doesn't have about a million other accounts to choose from! But I guess it's a start. I don't know if he's bright enough to change his tactics. I can't help but think that he might actually be a dumb teenager based in Ohio or something. :)

I, too, love the Shrek comment. It's unusual to have an attempted insult turned into so much fun.

Guest's picture
Chris

The Nekkid Truth probably has loads of useful information.

However, beware of visiting the site if you have a slow or non-broadband connection. The site seems to continue loading forever and ever. This caused a hard crash on my usually ok Firefox browser.

Thanks for the heads up, Wise Bread. Thought I'd pass on this advice.

Guest's picture
WanderingOak

Of course now that he knows people are on to him, he'll just change his email address and form letter and keep on scamming people...

Andrea Karim's picture

Getting his eBay account shut down would clue him in as well. Hopefully enough people will learn to Google email addresses before sending money to anyone. ESPECIALLY anyone who claims to live in Europe.

Guest's picture
Guest

Hi, I think I might have experienced another fraud. I will not give out all the details now, but the person who is responsible in eligibly named Tommy Nebran. His email is tommy12tommy@gmail.com . I checked and its not on Nekkid Truth yet, so beware. I think this may be the new name for the old Ray Clampp because he has the same instructions for buying the car, but this time, he has added a new twist. He is giving a story about his wife being very sick. Its also similar to Clampp because he says the car is in Maine. Its very funny how the pictures he has of the car is that it is in a driveway in a nice neighborhood, but with NO snow. Its winter and in Maine. Where is the snow??? He also hasn't given me his ebay username, so he is still staying partly in the dark. Here is a copy of the email to me from below:

_________
I am away with my wife who is sick, I'll be back at the end of April but we can close the transaction safe for both of us through eBay. I am ready to reserve the car for you and start the transaction but I want to be sure that you know the steps and you agree with the process. Here is how the process works:
- you give me your full name and shipping address ( I have your details already ),
- I start a transaction on eBay company,
- they send you the payment instructions,
- you send the money into eBay trust account,
- they confirm me that they received the funds,
- I ship the car,
- you receive the car,
- they send me the money.
They will hold the money until the car is delivered to you, with properly executed title. You have 5 days for the inspection period. If the car is not like described you will have to ship it back in 30 business days on my expense, but I am sure that you will love it.
If you agree please confirm to me so I can start the transaction.
Thank you,
Tommy

_________

I want to keep this topic fresh, so we can keep spreading the word about these kinds of people. Thanks to everyone who is helping with this cause.

Andrea Karim's picture

Probably not the same person - scammers are a dime a dozen. :) How did you find a listing for a car through eBay with no eBay user name?

Guest's picture
Guest

yep i just almost fell for a scam that sounds almost identical to the scammer clamp.I believe he also uses the alias:vincenthenson41@gmail.com and his story is that he is losing his house and needs to sell a nissan pathfinder 2006 fully loaded with 54,000 miles,navigation,leather,the works for only $4,750 and when i went back on craigslist to see if the car was still posted lo and behold it was gone.he too said to use the ebay account for the transaction.

Guest's picture
vna

As I know that my current situation is pretty special I want the deal closed only through eBay's Buyer Protection Program in order for you to be 100% protected. You will make the payment to eBay and they will hold the money until you receive the car. ONLY AFTER you receive the car and you inspect it(for 10 days) eBay will release the payment to me; in this way we are both protected. Anyway i am sure that if you won`t be satisfied about the car i will surely find another buyer in your area and there will be no need for you to ship the car back. I am located in London, UK and I was sent here with my department of peace maintenance. One month ago my wife moved here with me and brought the car with her but now we have to sell it back in the United States because we can't register it here; it has US specs and everything and registering it here in Europe will take for ever. My final price on it is 2,990 USD. If you will take it for this price I am willing to handle the shipping. It will be shipped from here by plane with US Air Military Cargo so it will not cost me anything. You will get it to the nearest airport in your area and then it will be trucked forward to your place. You will receive the car in about 3 days. Please get back to me asap if you decide to buy and include in your e-mail your full name and address where you want it shipped so I can start the deal with eBay. You will receive all the transaction payment and shipping details from them.

Best Regards,
Charles and Lisa Tarvirdi

Andrea Karim's picture

Posting a scam message on a blog post warning people about scams? Either some really awesome performance art, or you are the stupidest scammer alive.

Guest's picture
Guest

Below is the text of a scam I just brushed in to. Thanks for the blog, provided some language that confirmed my suspicion that this piece of garbage was a scammer. And under cover of being in the Armed Forces too. Ugh. Despicable.

"Hello,

Thank you for your interest in my car. This is 2005 Audi A6 3.2 quattro. Fuel Consumption: City: 19, Highway: 26, Remote Power Door Locks, Power Windows, Cruise Control, 4-Wheel ABS Brakes, Front Ventilated Disc Brakes, 1st And 2nd Row Curtain Head Airbags, Passenger Airbag, Side Airbag, Bluetooth Wireless Connectivity, Audio System Security, Am/Fm/Satellite-Capable Radio, Radio Data System, Remote 6-Disc CD Changer, Remote CD Changer In Glove Box, Speed Sensitive Audio Volume Control, Surround Audio, Total Number Of Speakers: 10, Braking Assist, ABS And Driveline Traction Control, Stability Control, Privacy Glass: Light, Silver Alloy Rims, Wheel Diameter: 16, Wheel Width: 7.5, Front Fog/Driving Lights, Rear Fog Lights, Leather Steering Wheel Trim and more...

Mileage: 66,808

Here you can find more pictures of the car: http://s1109.photobucket.com/home/audiA6_A6/recentuploads?view=slideshow
(if the above link does not work copy and paste it into a new web browser window).

The car has been well taken care of, always kept in the garage.Flawless exterior/interior condition,no scratches and no dents.It has never been involved in an accident.The engine starts and drives like new and the paint looks great.It comes with US clear title which will be signed and notorized in the buyer's name.Have original manuals and all keys.

I'm an US Air Force SSgt. currently stationed in Alaska.The car is here with me. The price is $2,970 including shipping from Alaska and delivery to your home address.So if you decide to buy this car or
need further information please get back to me as soon as possible.

Thank you!
Sgt. Miguel Duarte"

I asked him to send me the VIN, photos, a carfax and proposed method of payment. His response:

"Hi again,
I attached the carfax report to this email
I will have the car shipped from Alaska by an US Air Force cargo plane so there won't be any additional shipping costs. Also I will arrange for a truck to transport the car to your home address or, if you like, you can pick it up from the nearest airport in your area. The shipping will take 3-5 days, depending on your location.Shipping will be door to door,to your home address,somebody must be home when the car arrives to sign for the reception.The car will arrive with all the papers and documents required for registration and the keys. The clear title and the bill of sale will be already signed by me.

The payment will be done through eBay.You will send the money to eBay and as soon as the payment is confirmed they will notify me to proceed with the shipping. I will ship the car, you will receive it and you will have 5 days for inspection, both the car and the paperwork and the option to accept or reject the car.The inspection time period will begin as soon as you sign for receiving the car at your requested address.During all this time eBay will hold the money into a trust account.So, this is not a blind transaction,you can see the car before decided to buy it.If you are satisfied with the car and decide to keep it you inform eBay about this and they will release the money to me. If the car is not as advertised and decide not to keep it eBay will refund you the money, no questions asked, and shipping back the car will be my concern. I think this is more than fair for the both of us.Please take into consideration that I will get paid only after you receive the car and make sure everything is as agreed.

If you agree with these terms and you have the money, send me your full name and the address where you want the car to be delivered to and I will initiate the transaction with eBay. You will receive all the transaction details from them.I will appreciate an answer as soon as possible.

Thank you!"

Noting that the pictures were in the suburbs and the carfax showed an auction in Ohio less than a month ago, I searched language from the email and found this blog. I have a mind to track down the actual Staff Sgt. Duarte, who is indeed a real person on an air force base in Alaska. These people have no shame. Thanks again for the blog!

Guest's picture
Guest

Wow i almost got caught up in this one and its 2011 hes still trying...

Guest's picture
Luana

Thank's for the post. I was in the process of buying a pro video camera. An xha1s to be exact. HALF PRICE! Clue 1. Clue 2, He used the exact wording used for your vehicle.Down to "I'm sure you'll love it." Thank's for verifying my suspicion.