Monday, July 02, 2007

Ebay Scam Exposed

Typically when you go to buy something off of ebay there is one main way that you determine is the seller is legit or not, check their feedback. However, I discovered that even this safeguard has its limits and that you need to dig even a little deeper.

A friend of mine found an amazing deal on a 3ccd HD video camera (for you non-video people this means really expensive) and it was brand new. However, he had some questions because this camera, typically priced at $9,000, was being sold for $1,600.

I checked the site out, saw fantastic feedback, and thought it might be an honest deal...until I read some of his unique payment terms. Basically it read like, "I have a right not to sell this item to the bidder if I have not been contacted first by email at this address."

Why email? Why first before bidding? Well, I thought I would take on the role of average Joe gullible Internet buyer and find out.


From: Djbittner04

im very interested in your camera. im okay dealing outside of ebay to if thats what you likw to do


Dino J.

(I figured this guy, like most scammers, will not have mastered the art of english grammer and composition).

Sir we will do the transaction trough eBay , butnot paypal because I can't use my account , it is upgrating. If you want to buy it now for $1600 let me know and I will tell you how to proceed next
reply me soon
From: Djbittner04

sure. i'm game dude. im veery interested. but why did you list paypal as accepted payment at the same time you posted that people should contact you first?

Because I wish to leave feedback for the buyer .
if you want to buy the canon right now reply me your eBay user id, full name and shipping address and I will contact eBay and they will tell you how to proceed next
reply me soon
From: Djbittner04

okay. sounds good. user ID : splintered_light Full name : Joquine Bittner

5439 Saint Charles Loop NE
Olympia, WA 98516

I look forwardard to hearing back from ebay for confirmation

NOTE: I used a fake first name above to see how he was going to use it, though I gave him my real user ID so he wouldn't get suspicious.

Have you received the payment invoice?
let me know please


From: Djbittner04

yep. Just got it. fur some reason it ended up in my A0l spam filter. don't you hate it when aol tries rto protect you from spammers? it's like, stop it stupid aol. anyway, what do I do now?

NOTE: I couldn't resist an inside joke.

Now you have to make the payment as they adviced you .
how you were adviced?
let me know when you can complete the payment so i can arrange the shipping
From: Djbittner04

well, i got two emails from ebay that adviced me. one was ebay info on how too wire transfer you many for the good deal on "my" soon camera, and the other was from ebay saying that you were probably a scam artist. which one did you send?


AfFter waiting three hours for reply it was obvious that he knew that I was pulling his chain. I sent him another note two hours later just to see if he would reply at this point.

From: Djbittner04

I just told you that i was adviced by emal from ebay. what next? I can complete the transaction tomorrow when I have more money in my account. will that work.


Yes it works



This entire email exchange took place in the course of about 1 1/2 hours, an attribute of the speed style prefered by these artists. As you can see, after I identified that I wasn't as interested as I seemed, he was still was open to the fact that I might still send him money. These guys don't give up!

5 things to watch out for for:

1. Don't trust good feedback alone. This guy somehow conned a good law abiding ebayer into giving up some essential account info, hacked in, and then proceeded to list about 10 rather expensive items (PlayStation 3, video camera, home theatre systems) both at rock bottom price, with each ending within a couple seconds of each other.

2. Check out the sellers other items for sale if you have suspicions. In my case, the fact that several other items were going to be sold at around the same time indicated an irregular technique for for the real seller. This method would allow the scammer to glean as much money as possible in very little time and then trash the account.

3. Beware of 1 day auctions. This again indicates someone wanting to do a lot of business really fast. This is a big thing to look for, but rather hard to spot. Look carefully for when the item was listed.

4. Never, never, NEVER complete transactions outside of ebay. This guy said that he needed to do it this way so that he could leave feedback for me (that doesn't even make sense), and cleverly sent me an email from "ebay" with my account info on it (see picture above).

5. Don't give out your real name. Ebay already knows your real name and they use this information in conjunction with your username when they send you something. To simulate this security feature, the scammer asked for both of my names, and then walla...they now appear in my really fake genuine ebay confirmation email! Genius!

Some other tips as:

If you get a suspicious email from any company wanting your banking or otherwise confidential info, ALWAYS make sure that the links they want you to click on will direct you to an https: site as opposed to non-secure http: site.

If you see suspicious items being listed on ebay, don't bid on them until you know (beyond a reasonable doubt) that it is safe. If you think it is a spoof listing, report the item to .

Don't ask me why I got started on this extended tangent, but I hope this info will come in handy in the days to come.

If you have an ebay tip of any type please share it here.


Jkplayschess said...


Anonymous said...

Agreed, you do need to be careful! Do nothing outside ebay... NOTHING!

If you document the scam like you did and contact eBay, they will sometimes disable the scam artist's account.

I've helped bring down eBay users with hundreds of feedback by documenting like you just did and contacting eBay's scam department... They are slow sometimes, but will generally respond.

Most of the scam artists I have run into are located overseas...

Do you still have the email headers? If the guy lives in a small town, you might be able to figure out where he is located from that alone...

Also, I wouldn't suggest you do this with "your" eBay account, but if you actually win the auction on an item he is selling, eBay will give you the phone number on file for the seller... (there is a special place to request it) Most of the time, these scam idiots will give eBay their real number... It will intimidate them when you give them a call... Use a pay phone or free Skype account...

It's quite fulfilling to see eBay kick one of these liars off their system... They will probably be back, but they will need to build up their selling feedback again.


Daniel B said...

Thanks a lot for the tips. I forgot to mention that I did contact ebay and they responded in about an hour. I'm not sure what they did to the account, but they responded that this guy was defiantly not on the level.

Anonymous said...

It probably wasn't even this guy's account. He hijacked by spamming someone with an account that had good feedback with an official looking ebay email asking him to update his information.

So closing down this account, or asking ebay for a phone number won't work.

Daniel B said...

You are quite right Anonymous. Basically my message to ebay was a request to freeze the account ASAP, and then restore control to it's original owner.

Anonymous said...

I am and you are a bounch of stupid americans,you can search me at my balls because i am not available on the phone
PS: SUCK MY FeedBack