eBay Account Hackers - don't be fooled
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org):
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.