August 10, 2005


I'm interrupting regularly scheduled programming to warn about eBay fraud. Two friends in the past five days, experienced techies, were solicited for sales, after they were the second highest bidders (one wonders if the first bidder was real and realized the scam, or they were a set up to create the scam on the #2 bidder).

One was for $2300 and one for $1800. The first one I found out about (Sunday) was a situation where my friend got an email saying the first bidder couldn't complete the transaction, so the seller wondered if she wanted the item. They did the whole email thing outside the eBay system, instead of using the inhouse mail system. She thinks the seller may have hacked eBay to get her outside email, and then, wanted to do a cash payment through Western Union instead of using paypal or escrow. Many crazy payment suggestions later from the seller, all of which she nixed, until she realized it was fraud. She lost no money, but all the reply addresses on his email were set to appear as if he were using the eBay email system, but underneath, it was his own email.

The second case is nearly the same, but this person actually lost the $1800 today.

I hate paypal, but frankly, use that, or escrow, or a credit card to protect yourself. eBay has become really crazy for honest users. The reputation system is so pressurized for 'perfect' feedback, that it's very hard to leave anything but 'perfect A++++++++ best transaction every conducted' feedback, which for me means the person drove the item straight from Kansas to Berkeley to hand deliver it. For regular UPS, I'm more inclined to say things like 'things were normal, nothing weird happened, good luck!' The alternative to the perfect feedback is only something really really bad. There is no in-between, so it's harder to tell if the person has the 'perfect A++++++++' rating that flaky behavior is coming until you experience it yourself.

Good luck!

Posted by Mary Hodder at August 10, 2005 01:26 PM | TrackBack

This ebay scam is well known and was covered in a newspaper artical. There is even a pay pal scam.

Posted by: Satish Bhardwaj at August 11, 2005 03:02 PM

That's one thing I've never understood. The feedback mechanism is open text, why do people feel the need to leave those meaningless "A+++++++" comments?

Perhaps eBay need to offer some other suggestions that are more meaningful; "delivered promptly, item in good order" for example.

Posted by: Gordon at August 12, 2005 02:59 AM

Gordon, I agree. It's part of the point I'm making, that the community has grown stilted, with the pressure for perfection (or something just terrible is the alternative) where the expressions of that perfection are stilted too, and not terribly creative. I think it adds to the problem they have with this, as well as creating other problems. People are not all perfection, we are flawed. I find eBay community expression very very strange in it's manifestation. Because we don't normally interact this way in real life. I can't see it lasting. Eventually it will either cave under the pressure, and change to a healtheir state or blow itself up.

In fact, the friend who got taken said that when they spoke on the phone with eBay security, they all but admitted this is happening everyday, and they can't seem to stop it right now. That does not bode well.


Posted by: mary hodder at August 12, 2005 07:49 AM