Another eBay Attempted Fraud Johnno42000 1838 Sovereign

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Another eBay Attempted Fraud Johnno42000
We noticed this dodgy eBay seller because he was using our gold sovereign & Krugerrand photographs, then we worked out he was a crook.
Many eBay sellers, including dealers steal our copyright images, we suspect some of them may also be fraudsters. Does eBay care?
We believe that we averted yet another fraud on eBay, and did it almost single-handed, without any assistance from eBay. What started small, as us spotting yet another eBay seller using our photos to sell his coins, rapidly grew, and could have easily been a significant fraud, if we had not taken action.

Is eBay Really a Lottery? - Is This Seller a Crook?
Whenever we send copyright infringement notices to eBay, which is a daily occurrence, we include a paragraph warning or alerting them that in our experience, may people who steal our images also steal other things, and that if a vendor uses stolen images, it is likely that he does not own the items he is offering for sale. eBay appear to take no notice of our "good neighbour" advice, and usually allow the seller to relist the same or similar items, sometimes they steal other people's images as well.
In a significant number of cases, although we don't keep count, we notice that a few weeks later, the seller is "no longer a registered user". We never get any feedback or thanks from eBay, but our guess is that the seller has failed to deliver the goods after being paid, buyers have complained to eBay or the police, and his membership has been revoked. Because we don't receive any feedback, we can only guess, and it does seem that eBay goes to great lengths to avoid bad publicity.

    1838 FULL SOVEREIGN

    OFFERED FOR AUCTION IS AN 1838 SOVEREIGN.

    THIS IS PART OF MY GRANDFATHERS COIN COLLECTION WHICH HE ACQUIRED OVER THE LAST 50+ YEARS.

    UNFORTUNATELY HE PASSED AWAY EARLIER THIS YEAR. MY BROTHER AND I ARE THE BENEFICIARIES OF HIS ESTATE AND HAVE DECIDED TO PUT SOME OF HIS EXTENSIVE COLLECTION UP FOR AUCTION ON EBAY. WE HAVE SOLD SEVERAL THINGS ON EBAY IN THE PAST AND ALWAYS ACHIEVED A VERY FAIR PRICE.

    NEITHER MY BROTHER OR I ARE EXPERTS ON THE PRICES OF THE COINS AND OTHER ITEMS SO HAVE ERRED ON THE LOWER SIDE (COMPARED WITH OTHER LISTINGS WE HAVE SEEN) TO ATTRACT INTEREST IN THE ITEMS. WE HAVE NOTICED PEOPLE MENTIONING COA's (CERTIFICATE OF AUTHORITY?). WE HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO TRACE ANYTHING THAT SAYS 'CERTIFICATE OF AUTHORITY' AND HAVE ASKED OUR GRANDFATHER'S ACCOUNTANT AND SOLICITOR IF THEY HAVE THEM BUT WITH NO LUCK SO ALL THE COINS WILL HAVE TO BE SOLD WITHOUT A CERTIFICATE.

    I WILL ENDEAVOUR TO ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS WHICH ARE ASKED BUT PLEASE BE AWARE I AM NO EXPERT AND AM CURRENTLY TRYING TO TIE UP SOME LOOSE ENDS, IN REGARD TO THE ESTATE, WHICH MEANS I AM TRAVELLING QUITE A LOT ACROSSS EUROPE. I AM TRYING TO KEEP TO A VERY STRICT TIMETABLE AS I WILL BE VERY BUSY. FOR THIS REASON I WILL BE ASKING FOR THE PAYMENTS TO REACH ME WITHIN 5 DAYS OF THE AUCTIONS ENDING.

    PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL PAYMENTS MUST BE BY CHEQUE. THERE ARE A COUPLE OF REASONS FOR THIS. FIRSTLY I ONLY HAVE A LIMITED WITHDRAWAL AMOUNT ON PAYPAL AND I IMAGINE THE AMOUNT RAISED BY THE SALE OF THE VARIOUS ITEMS WILL EXCEEDTHIS LIMIT, SECONDLY IT WILL LIMIT ANY FEES (ALWAYS A GOOD THING), AND THIRDLY IT WILL ENABLE YOU, AS THE BUYER TO HAVE A COOLING OFF PERIOD.

    ALL ITEMS WILL BE SOLD WITH A FULLY REFUNDABLE PAYMENT IF THE BUYER IS NOT SATISFIED WITH THE ITEMS. POSTAGE WILL BE BY 1ST CLASS RECORDED DELIVERY. ANY EXTRA INSURANCE WILL BE PAID BY MYSELF (TO KEEP POSTAGE TO A MINIMUM FOR THE BUYER).

    PAYMENT BY CHEQUE ONLY PLEASE.

    I WILL NOT BE ACCEPTING ANY BIDS FROM OUTSIDE OF THE UK.

    Item location: Tonypandy, Rhondda Cynon Taff, United Kingdom

What's Wrong
The photograph that johnno42000 is using is of 2 similar coins owned by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, and they do own the copyright on their photographs, so at the very least johnno42000 is stealing images (infringing Intellectual Property Rights). So what, you may ask, most people on eBay do that.
While it does sadly appear true that a significant number of eBay vendors do use stolen images, and don't seem to think twice about it, it is illegal, and the copyright owners can complain and report the infringement to eBay, if they get to know about it, and eBay will eventually remove the infringing listings, although not always very quickly, and often somewhat reluctantly.
The next point is that, by using these images without explaining that they are "borrowed", and not of the actual coin, johnno42000 is attempting fraud. He is trying to deceive buyers into believing that the photo they see is of the coin on offer. On most rare and valuable collector coins, there is a considerable price premium which depends on the grade of the coin. For example, an 1838 sovereign catalogues at £425 in Fine condition (which is better than minimum), and £4,250 in Uncirculated condition. If johnno42000 does indeed actually own an 1838 sovereign, but a tatty one, it might be overpriced at £200; if is was perfect FDC, it could be worth over £5,000.
Our last point is that johnno42000 has taken quite a lot of time and effort to disguise the images, presumably to avoid having potential buyers recognising them and realising the listing was fraudulent. Most copyright thieves don't go to this amount of trouble, although some do perform minor changes such as background colour. We e-mailed johnno42000:-

    Question
    Dear johnno42000,
    Judging by the photograph the coin appears to be in absolutely mint condition. Is this a photo of the actual coin?
    - chardcoins

    Answer
    Hi,
    thank you for the question. As I said in my advert neither my brother or I are experts in coins but it does look a lot like it is not even scratched. My grandfather always tried to buy the best of anything he thought was a good investment so I would guess that coin experts would class this as mint,
    hope this helps,
    kind regards
    John
    - johnno42000

    OK, so he has not specifically stated that it is a photograph of his actual coin, but his answer does appear to make us believe that it is. At this stage, we were convinced the guy was a crook, but just to be sure:-

eBay Fraud Report
On 6th April, we reported the 1838 sovereign listing, item number 230239657628, to eBay's "Trust and Safety" department. Our experience, backed up by research, is that they do very little about fraud reports. As we write this at 19.00 on 12th April, the listing is still current.

Here's Another:-

    1891 FULL SOVEREIGN

    OFFERED FOR AUCTION IS AN 1891 SOVEREIGN.

    THIS IS PART OF MY GRANDFATHERS COIN COLLECTION WHICH HE ACQUIRED OVER THE LAST 50+ YEARS.

    UNFORTUNATELY HE PASSED AWAY EARLIER THIS YEAR. MY BROTHER AND I ARE THE BENEFICIARIES OF HIS ESTATE AND HAVE DECIDED TO PUT SOME OF HIS EXTENSIVE COLLECTION UP FOR AUCTION ON EBAY. WE HAVE SOLD SEVERAL THINGS ON EBAY IN THE PAST AND ALWAYS ACHIEVED A VERY FAIR PRICE.

    NEITHER MY BROTHER OR I ARE EXPERTS ON THE PRICES OF THE COINS AND OTHER ITEMS SO HAVE ERRED ON THE LOWER SIDE (COMPARED WITH OTHER LISTINGS WE HAVE SEEN) TO ATTRACT INTEREST IN THE ITEMS. WE HAVE NOTICED PEOPLE MENTIONING COA's (CERTIFICATE OF AUTHORITY?). WE HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO TRACE ANYTHING THAT SAYS 'CERTIFICATE OF AUTHORITY' AND HAVE ASKED OUR GRANDFATHER'S ACCOUNTANT AND SOLICITOR IF THEY HAVE THEM BUT WITH NO LUCK SO ALL THE COINS WILL HAVE TO BE SOLD WITHOUT A CERTIFICATE.

    I WILL ENDEAVOUR TO ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS WHICH ARE ASKED BUT PLEASE BE AWARE I AM NO EXPERT AND AM CURRENTLY TRYING TO TIE UP SOME LOOSE ENDS, IN REGARD TO THE ESTATE, WHICH MEANS I AM TRAVELLING QUITE A LOT ACROSSS EUROPE. I AM TRYING TO KEEP TO A VERY STRICT TIMETABLE AS I WILL BE VERY BUSY. FOR THIS REASON I WILL BE ASKING FOR THE PAYMENTS TO REACH ME WITHIN 5 DAYS OF THE AUCTIONS ENDING.

    PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL PAYMENTS MUST BE BY CHEQUE. THERE ARE A COUPLE OF REASONS FOR THIS. FIRSTLY I ONLY HAVE A LIMITED WITHDRAWAL AMOUNT ON PAYPAL AND I IMAGINE THE AMOUNT RAISED BY THE SALE OF THE VARIOUS ITEMS WILL EXCEEDTHIS LIMIT, SECONDLY IT WILL LIMIT ANY FEES (ALWAYS A GOOD THING), AND THIRDLY IT WILL ENABLE YOU, AS THE BUYER TO HAVE A COOLING OFF PERIOD.

    ALL ITEMS WILL BE SOLD WITH A FULLY REFUNDABLE PAYMENT IF THE BUYER IS NOT SATISFIED WITH THE ITEMS. POSTAGE WILL BE BY 1ST CLASS RECORDED DELIVERY. ANY EXTRA INSURANCE WILL BE PAID BY MYSELF (TO KEEP POSTAGE TO A MINIMUM FOR THE BUYER).

    PAYMENT BY CHEQUE ONLY PLEASE.

    I WILL NOT BE ACCEPTING ANY BIDS FROM OUTSIDE OF THE UK.

    Item location: Tonypandy, Rhondda Cynon Taff, United Kingdom

        Question
        Thanks for your answer about the 1838 sovereign. have you got a bigger, better photo of this 1891? Also the 1838 if possible?

        Answer
        Dear chardcoins,
        Hi,
        the only 2 pictures of the coins were taken by my grandfathers assistantfor an insurance assessment earlier this year. If you like I could email you the pictures and perhaps you could enlarge them?
        Many thanks
        John
        - johnno42000

        Question
        Dear johnno42000, Yes please, to (my e-mail address at chards.co.uk) - chardcoins

        Answer
        Dear chardcoins, Hi, I've just emailed the picture, hope they help, thanks John - johnno42000

    What's Wrong - 2
    We recognised the Gallery Image of the obverse of this coin in the eBay search and category page, so we took a closer look.
    johnno42000 has spent some time and effort altering the photographs to avoid detection, but we can still identify our own photographs. He has resized them down to about 177 x 177 pixels, from our original 400 x 400, and this has removed the Digimarc watermark.
    The worst bit is that we have caught him out in a lie, he states that these photographs were taken by "his grandfather's assistant" (how he knows this, he does not explain). It will be interesting to see the insurance assessment, and the original photographs. We wonder if they were digital or film. Either way, we are not aware of any cameras which would restrict the final image size to circa 177 pixels.

    100% Feedback - 427
    Perhaps surprisingly to most people, johnno42000 has (had) a respectable looking feedback, with no negatives. We, however, came to the conclusion a long time ago, that eBay feedbacks are not reliable. In any case, his last feedback transaction entry was on 15th September 2007.

    Police Report
    We also reported our suspicions to our local police, who told us that they could not do anything about it, and advised us to report it to eBay as they have their own fraud department. We told them eBay's fraud department is rubbish, and eBay only get involved when there are large amounts involved, many people have already lost money, and the media get to hear about it. We suspect that eBay's PR department has a bigger budget than its fraud department.

    Our Conclusions

        * johnno42000 is a crook. How much of one remains to be seen.
        * You should not rely on the eBay feedback rating.
        * Don't buy expensive stuff like this on eBay, it's too big a gamble.
        * The corollary of this last point is that if you anything expensive or valuable to sell, then don't use eBay. Most intelligent buyers will factor a big discount into their buying price to pay for the high risk they are taking. You would probably be better off selling it to a dealer, or through a conventional auction.
        * Police action on internet and eBay fraud is pathetic.

    Finally...
    We have placed bids on the two items listed above, although not any others of the 93 items he is offering.
    As eBay often hide the identity of other bidders, as in this case, we are not able to warn any of the other bidders about out suspicions. To help avoid fraud, we intend to place negative feedback one one or both of the items, with a suitable warning. By doing so, we are risking:-

        * A libel action against us from johnno42000 if we are wrong,
        * Retaliatory negative feedback from johnno42000.
        * Retaliatory action from eBay, as we believe they don't like members taking vigilante action, probably because it may eBay look as bad as it is.

    We intend to update this page later, when we know more.

Author
This guide was written by Lawrence Chard, of Chard Coins.
It may be one of our last. We find eBay so frustrating to use, in just about every single possible way, that we are about to all but completely boycott it. Could eBay become the next Alta Vista?

Useful?
We hope you find it interesting or useful. If so, please take a few seconds to click on the "Yes" button below. Only click on the "No" button if you are a crook!

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You may be interested in viewing our other guides:-

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CGT Capital Gains Tax Exemption on Gold Sovereigns Britannias UK Coins

How to Photograph Coins - Advice, hints, tips & more...

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Sniping - Is It Good Strategy or Tactics for Winning eBay Auctions?

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Definition of Investment - VAT Exempt (Tax Free) in UK & EU

Second Chance Offers on eBay - Should You Use Them?

Spellings - Is Good Spelling Important - A Few Howlers

Famous People (Celebrities) Who Collected Coins

Heads Upside Down on Coins - Medal & Coin Alignment

Identifying Coins, A Brief Guide to Help Identify Coins

BNTA - The British Numismatic Trade Association

Gold Coins Which Are Not Gold - Including German & € Euros

Postage Packing Shipping Insurance Charges - Fair or Excessive?

The Difference Between Proof and Uncirculated Coins

London Gold Fixing Price

Gold Bullion Bars For Investment

Other Good Guides
While watching this particular scammer, we came across another excellent eBay Guides Contributor, who seems to put a lot of effort into saving stupid buyers from their own greed and stupidity. He has some good practical information about various fakes and scams.
We recommend looking at:

Guides by Lapidary2 - Collecting Gold Sovereigns, Avoiding Fakes, & More...


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