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Old February 11th, 2003, 12:13 AM   #1
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How not to get scammed when buying from online auction sites

First the bad news
There are more ways to get ripped off when buying and selling over the internet than ever before. The good news is that with a little common sense, most are avoidable.

The great playground of the modern fraud artist has been Ebay. Fueled by greed, buyers have been lured into lowball auctions on high end items. With their savings sent overseas via Western Union, buyers waited patiently on their doorsteps, fake UPS tracking numbers in hand, never to have that expensive new toy arrive. Although Ebay has been cracking down efficiently, it is still a buyer beware world out there. While there are many other auction sites out there, the following red flags should apply to any purchase you make.

High end items at low dollar prices.
Understand this: we are all greedy, and we want as much money for our stuff as possible. This applies to Ebay sellers as well as everyone else. When you see someone selling a brand new video camera for half the price of other auctions, you need to ask yourself why. It doesn’t cost him anything to raise the price, so why should he want to sell it for less? It’s common sense, yet we are often blinded by the opportunity to snag a deal that we can all brag to our friends about. You need to remember one time tested saying: “If it is too good to be true, it probably is.”
Look for them hawking brand new items at ridiculous discounts. High end electronics, video cameras, still cameras, and laptops are always popular items.

Zero feedback/New Users
On Ebay, you’d be crazy to send thousands of dollars to someone who just registered, even if it is the bargain of the year. Remember, it’s only the bargain of the year if what you buy actually shows up. Its difficult enough trust people with a hundred transactions with thousands of dollars, so why, no matter how cheap, would you trust someone who has no history at all? Unless you can pay in person, and pick it up in person, don’t bother with zero feedback sellers. They pop up new ones just as fast as Ebay shuts them down.

Odd Accounts
There are other ways you can get taken, as con artists sometimes get a hold of valid Ebay accounts. When considering a purchase, look into the seller’s history. If they haven’t been active for a year, and are suddenly selling five new Rolex watches, you should be cautious.
Although rare, a serious scammer can set up an account to sell multiple cheap items in order to get enough feedback to draw buyers into a thousand dollar item. If the seller has a bunch of feedback from selling $0.99 stickers but is now listing $5000 video cameras for $1500 each, use extreme caution.

Seller’s Location
Would you seriously buy a Rolex from Hong Kong for any price and think it’s real?

Would you really wire money to Croatia for a new video Ipod at a quarter of the price?

Here’s the truth. If these people had legitimate items to sell, they’d be selling them over there. They are trying to get your overseas money because they know there is absolutely nothing you can do to get it back once they’ve got it. Even if you get scammed out of $10,000 are you really going to track down some scumbag in the middle of Hong Kong?

Simply buying only within North America or the UK will likely cut your chances of getting ripped off by at least 50%. Not all foreign sellers are rip-offs, but the further out you go culturally, the higher your risk gets.

Anyone Traveling
If you ever read anything like “I’m from the US, but currently traveling in France,” forget it immediately. Even if someone is from North Carolina, but traveling in South Carolina, forget it. It is almost always trouble. Scammers use traveling as an excuse as to why they haven’t been able to ship you your package three months after you have paid. They’ll keep you on the hook as long as possible to keep you from going to the authorities, and then they’ll eventually disappear.

Payment
Crooks love Western Union money transfers, since it's instant and mostly untraceable, but others will take money orders, especially if they are overseas. They generally will not accept Paypal or any form of credit card payment, as it offers you some protection. If you are serious about buying online, only use your credit card and keep up to date on what kind of protection they offer. If paying by Paypal, only use funds taken from your credit card. Don’t make big purchased funded by your bank account or your Paypal balance, as these aren’t nearly as protected, despite what Paypal says.

Escrow
Escrow used to be the safety net you could rely on. Then crooks began setting up fake escrow services and continued on stealing as happily as before.
Here’s reality. Real sellers don’t use escrow. They take your money up front. Then they ship you the package. That’s the way it’s done. They have the goods so they make the rules. If you want to use escrow and they agree to it, make sure it is an escrow service of your choice, not the seller’s.

Auction Layouts
The layout of the auction can often be a clue. Look for a bunch of obviously copied info from the manufacturer’s website, as well as stock pictures of the item. There is rarely any other info in the auction. Does that make any sense? If you were really selling something expensive, wouldn’t you really want to give buyer as much info as possible?

Breaking The Rules
Watch out for anyone who offers to break the rules for you when there is nothing in it for them. Someone who offers to end the auction early for a lower price is someone who is agreeing to give up money. No one gives up money. Anyone who approaches you outside the system is instantly suspect. If they were legit, they’d be selling legitimately.

Selling Online
Selling online has become almost as dangerous as buying. There are lots of scams and more happening every day. Buyers using fake or stolen credit cards or jacked Paypal accounts are just the start. They’ve also been faking money orders, so that once the bank finally cashes it through; you’ve long since sent them your item.

Some of the scams have become more elaborate, where they overpay you for the item, and then get you to refund the extra by money order, while having used a fake credit card to send the funds in the first place. By the time the credit card company dings you for the amount you sold your item for, you’ve already send them a refund... and the item.

The only way to be absolutely sure that the sale is legit is to wait for the money to clear out of your bank. Most buyers aren’t happy to wait that long, so it’s always a roll of the dice.

Remember This
As internet technology evolves, criminals will find news ways of exploiting the innocent. But remember one thing, your best protection is not the legal system, it is simply your common sense. Never forget the golden rule of online buying “if it looks to good to be true, it probably is.”

Of course, you can avoid these problems altogether by making your purchases from our highly trusted,
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Old June 11th, 2003, 11:08 AM   #2
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See http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/...010918362.html for a recent Ebay Australia experience.
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Old June 25th, 2003, 03:03 PM   #3
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My brother who is an ebay service rep has passed on a report of a scam. It follows the pattern of replicating an official looking eBay page but its purpose is to get your credit card or banking information. To protect yourself, always check to see if the page is actually hosted by eBay.

eBay will also never send an unsolicited email to a customer asking for a verification of their personal details.
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Old November 4th, 2003, 09:38 PM   #4
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I just got sammed on ebay. I will never use it again and i will never recommend it to any one!

OK here is what happened I won an auction for camera on ebay (vx2000) on 8-17-03 The seller was tippecanoe_ites (nikki brindle). It was one of those presale auctions where you receive your camera in 4-6 weeks. I checked previous feed back and every one received there camera and was happy. My total came to $1915.00. I paid with a money order. Next thing you know its 4 weeks later. I asked her where my camera is and she says it will be here by the 6th week guaranteed. Now its the 6 th and here supplier is on a bit of delay. 6 weeks turns into two months and then just about 3 months and I had it. I said screw it I'll get a gl2 instead direct from b&h. So I started emailing asking for my refund. I was not getting any response. I started to wonder because Nikki was very good with replying to my emails and she would always respond like the same day. So I started calling her company White Wolf Designs. I got a recording saying that there systems were down and leave all your info and they would get back to you. Well, I kept calling and calling no response and no emails. They claimed that they had a system failure. Well, next thing you know I get home form work and I find out she was arrested for Internet fraud my jaw dropped. Currently I am out my money and it is not looking good. I have reported this to ebay,square trade, FBI, and the Warsaw police. My uncle is a lawyer and we are deciding what to do. Currently she is out on bail. The FBI has taking over the case. The sad thing is I am 17 and I have saved for ever for this camera and I really mean for ever. I worked making $5.15 hour and also paying for gas for my car you can imagine how long it took me to save. Well, it is sad and its not looking good. Ebay can only give $175. WOW that's a lot what about my other $1740.00. Well, I am waiting to see what happens and I will put some links on the here so every one can check it out. I will never do anything on ebay ever again.NEVER! I would not recommend to any one I don't care about the legit people that are out there just don't do it. I should have just order from B&H. My plan was with the money I save on the camera I'll get my editing PC. Well, I have the PC but no camera and now I am broke. There is really no point of even having this computer now. Alls I want is my money back to get a GL2 I regret my decision.


http://www.timeswrsw.com/N1015033.HTM

http://www.philterhouse.com/nikki.html

http://www.chatarea.com/NikkiBrindle.f46942
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Old November 4th, 2003, 10:08 PM   #5
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Sorry to hear about your situation. That sucks pretty hard.
Again, you can never go wrong with one of the forum's sponsors, and never EVER pay for anything over the internet with anything but a credit card.
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Old November 4th, 2003, 10:44 PM   #6
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That's a very painful story, Joel. I'm very sorry for your misfortune and feel your pain and disappointment. Really.

I nearly had a similar calamity on eBay but was fortunate in getting my payment returned. Since then I have sworn off eBay entirely. It just does not seem worth the hassle and risk.

It may not be much consolation to you now, but put the experience in a painful life-lesson category. All you (may have) lost was money, something ultimately very replaceable.
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Old November 6th, 2003, 05:30 PM   #7
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Well for being 17 this really is a set back for me. Well i dont no what to do. Ill just ill just wait it out and hope to get my money back doubt it will happen :*(
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Old November 19th, 2003, 01:28 PM   #8
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Well, I got a little money back to update everyone $1,000 from my parents insurance and $175 form ebay. This maybe a little far fetched but is there any possibility that or sponsors could help me out on a deal with a gl2? Maybe I am I dreaming to much from what happened.
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Old November 19th, 2003, 01:44 PM   #9
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You're a lucky fellow, Joel.
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Old November 19th, 2003, 02:36 PM   #10
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Hi Joel, I am happy to hear that you have recovered some of your money. I think that eBay is a really good place to find deals, but we must be really careful. There is always some signs to know if it is a fraud.

Your budget is now a littlebit lower but you can perhaps find a good used camera at this price.

Take a look on the "Private Classifieds" forum.
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthrea...threadid=17157

This guy is selling a TRV-950 at a fair price ...
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Old November 19th, 2003, 03:22 PM   #11
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Hi Joel,

Our sponsors already offer excellent deals at real-world prices. Although they would quickly go broke if they bent over backwards for everyone who's ever been burned by Ebay, you can still find very good (that is, competitive and realistic) prices through them. Hope this helps,
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Old November 19th, 2003, 04:02 PM   #12
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lol i no iam not goign to get a camera that cheap i am goign to cough up more money i just wanted to no if there was something they could do for me but i doubt it. I will just have to go to zotz.
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Old November 21st, 2003, 12:16 PM   #13
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Hi Gang, this is my first real post after lurking for a long while.

Firstly Ebay is great, I have made this video production project of mine some what of a social experiment with the internet culture. 90% of all of my equipment that I am currently using is from eBay and I've only been burned badly once, with a no show item.

My pd-100 needed a little bit of repairing but it was still worth the hassles. Its a sweet little camera.

Anyway I wanted to point out the other end of eBay and that is selling. A friend tried to sell an XL1 packeage and 99% of the equiries were from Malaysia wanting to buy the gear outside of eBay!

They are willing to use "payapl" which is interesting. We have concluded that they must be using "hacked" accounts to pay for items. That or the laws in these countries make it easy for scammers to do their dirty work.
Many of the legit sellers will not ship to Malaysia and Singapore because of that.

To make a short story long, eBay is a great way to sell some of your older gear but make sure that your buyer is not in the "pacific rim" countries i.e. Singapore, Malaysia etc.

Thanks for all the info I've been gleaming from the site, I hope to post my DVcam setup once I work out the bugs.

Cheers to all!

Chris H.
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Old December 5th, 2003, 12:18 AM   #14
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I don't think you're actually allowed to buy things outside of e-bay auctions. Certainly not under UK law. Auctions work because there is an initial, collateral contract from the seller to accept the highest bid (though this can be excluded if it's an auction with a reserve and the reserve is not met), if he does not accept the bid then he is in breach of that contract and liable to you for damages. The collateral contract can include other terms, such as a stipulation that people with a low feedback rating can't bid, etc, but I'm pretty sure any attempt to "reserve the right to withdraw the item" as some people seem to do, is a breach of the Unfair Contract Terms Act. Not completely sure about that one, but I'll find out. I must stress this is UK law, and may not apply in the US.

On the subject of e-bay; I've used it for lots of things and never had any problems; but I do steer clear of anyone even remotely unlegit. It's particularly good for tripods I find.

Kieran
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Old December 16th, 2003, 05:41 PM   #15
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Well, I bought my XL1 on eBay (used, from a pawnshop in Texas), plus a host of other items, such as several Panasonic editing VTRs, audio accessories, etc.

But it is important to be vigilant, as these stories show. And I have seen these overseas fraud artists at work, most recently when I was looking for an Apple PowerBook (which I found on eBay, a 1-year-old 15" model from a music engineer in California, and it still had over a year of the AppleCare warranty left on it, which I transferred and actually wound up using).

These guys sure enough operate out of Europe, want you to use Western Union money orders, fracture the English language and have prices that are not to be believed. And their feedback was all for little paltry transactions (usually as buyer, BTW) in petty merchandise having nothing to do with electronics. Those clues were enough for me to stay away, and I noticed after putting the items on my watch list that they disappeared from auction pretty quickly.
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