How I Saved My Friend From The Ebay Fraudster

Written By: Joseph Tierney

Let’s call my friend Sam.

In June 2005 Sam was looking into buying a fast car. Usually we buy cars from the Orlando car auction, but Sam decided to try eBay incase there were some lower prices. It was there that he found a 1998 Mitsubishi Eclipse GS-X for $3500. Sam is not as internet savvy as me, and I was not with him at the time that he ended the Buy It Now auction, so he thought that this was an excellent deal! (As would any other normal computer user.)

The next day Sam called me on the phone and told me about the incredible deal that he had gotten on eBay for a 1998 Mitsubishi Eclipse for $3500 with FREE shipping. When I heard about the price of the car I was already skeptical, but when I heard the free shipping I knew it had to be a scam. I asked Sam how he was sending the money and he told me that him and the seller used an escrow service that required payment in Western Union. I told Sam that Western Union is the service of choice used by auction fraudsters since you CANNOT get your money back. Sam didn’t believe me and was pissed at me for trying to ruin a good thing for him. Boy, was he in for a surprise.

Sam was very disapointed and really wanted the car. I looked over the auction just incase and everything looked OK, and I started to even think that maybe the auction was legit – UNTIL I READ THE E-MAILS.

I had my friend forward me every e-mail that he received from eBay, the seller, and the escrow company. The eBay e-mails turned out to be a spoof sent from the seller’s AOL account. In the headers I found this:

X-Apparently-From: EBAYUSER@aol.com

Also, in the e-mail from eBay it requested Sam to send the payment of $3500 to the escrow company using Western Union. Now why would eBay tell someone to pay with Western Union when they state on their website NEVER to use it? Apparently the eBay fraudster used someone else’s eBay account to put up the auction for the Eclipse. The actual fraudster was the one posing as the escrow agent living 4 states away from the actual eBay account holder.

I went through WhitePages.com to try and find out some more information on the fraudster and got a lot of phone numbers from the area with the last name that he asked to receive the Western Union with. I called about 50 numbers asking for the man’s first name. One person said “Yes, he is here. Hold on one second.” I waited and they came back and said, “Oh, no sorry, you have the wrong number.” This was suspicious so I wrote this number down to report it to the authorities later on. I also called another household and the lady said, “You just called me asking for him.” I told her that I didn’t and apparently someone else was looking for him too. I guess he was about to rip someone else off as well.

It was then that I had a good idea to try and catch the eBay fraudster. I called up Western Union and told them that someone was trying to rip me off on eBay with their service. The lady on the phone told me that she didn’t care and that I couldn’t do anything. I asked her if I could send a $30 payment through Western Union with a note that said “Call the Cops – eBay Fraudster” or something to that extent. She told me that she didn’t even think that the Western Union agent would do anything and that it wasn’t worth trying.

I sent the money anyway even though Western Union wouldn’t help me and notified the seller of the Western Union MTCN number that is required (supposedly) to pickup a payment. I sent my note with the payment and I never heard anything since. I lost about $50 ($30 + Western Union’s Fees) but atleast it wasn’t $3500 and maybe the seller actually got caught. Maybe I helped some other people out that would eventually get ripped off by him. Maybe if Western Union would use some ACTUAL fraud protection they would have a lot better service and a lot of new eBayers would be saved.

About the Author: Joseph Tierney is the owner of Auction Fraud Protection – http://www.stopauctionfraud.com A user-generated database of auction fraudsters. He is 2005 high school graduate and is currently studying for a computer science degree in college.

Source: www.isnare.com

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