Thank you for taking the time to read our first ever guide! PLEASE READ IT IN FULL!
This scam is largely similar to the iTunes codes scam of 2008 which, shamefully, we were caught out by!
The Applecare Protection Plan scam only came to our attention because we were notified by a buyer who bought a legitimate AppleCare Protection Plan from us recently as he had been scammed previously by another seller on Ebay (who is still selling at present but cannot be named for legal reasons - AMENDMENT: See below for example seller who has now been banned) who used one of the methods outlined below - he was not sure which!
Be aware of sellers on Ebay reselling fraudulent AppleCare codes online and only offering to email the codes out. These codes are obtained by either:
1. Key generators which generate codes or
2. Purchased via fraudulent credit cards
3. Purchased via legitimate means!!!
Only by using your judgement can you avoid being scammed. We cannot advise you on who is a reputable seller on Ebay. We can only vouch for our own honesty which we hope, by raising the profile of this scam, we are doing! Of course, we would prefer you to buy from us but the choice is yours ultimately and so is the outcome.
Now for the scenarios:
- You purchase a protection plan from a seller who advertises eShipping which, by the way, is against Ebay policy. However, Ebay cannot monitor every single listing to do with emailed codes (AppleCare Protection Plans, mobile phone unlock codes, etceteras).
- Apple accepts the codes when you enter them online.
- You, the buyer are happy, and leave the seller a positive feedback.
Here's what may happen next (will happen next if any of these scams have been used on you!)
After 1-2 months, Apple discovers that the code is invalid, and they revoke the registration - so your warranty is invalid. Additionally, you lose the ability to file a claim with PayPal since it is well beyond the 45 day claim period. So you've just lost all your hard earned cash and for what? NOTHING!
Unscrupulous sellers are going one step further - they are printing authentic AppleCare boxes with the bogus code Registration Number in the package. These custom printed boxes may not have a serial number on the outside. Authentic boxes have the serial number on the base of the box and also as a barcode beneath the registration code on the booklet inside.
To complicate matters more, it really doesn't matter how many feedback count the seller has but more likely the percentage - check their negatives and neutrals and make a considered judgement on them! Look out particularly for negatives relating to AppleCare though you are unlikely to see any unless the buyer has been diligent and read a guide like ours prior to leaving feedback!
DO NOT BE AFRAID TO SEARCH THROUGH A SELLERS FEEDBACK, PARTICULARLY IF THEY ARE SELLING HIGH PERCENTAGES OF APPLECARE PRODUCTS AND LOOK FOR BUYERS THAT ARE OVER 2 MONTHS, EVEN 6 MONTHS OR A YEAR OLD. DON'T BE AFRAID TO EMAIL THOSE BUYERS TO SEE IF THEY HAD A PROBLEM MANIFEST ITSELF SOMEWHERE ALONG THE LINE BY CLICKING ON THEIR USER NAME AND USING THE CONTACT MEMBER LINK.
IF YOU DO FIND A BUYER THAT HAS HAD THIS DONE TO THEM - EITHER REPORT IT TO EBAY AND ENCOURAGE THE BUYER TO REPORT IT ALSO EVEN IF IT IS A VERY OLD PURCHASE. BETTER STILL, COMPLETE A PURCHASE WITH THE SCAMMER, LEAVE A NEGATIVE FEEDBACK (PROVIDING YOU HAVE FOLLOWED THE INSTRUCTIONS BELOW TO CHECK WHETHER IT IS A NON-LEGITIMATE PROTECTION PLAN) AND RAISE A PAYPAL CLAIM TO RECOVER YOUR MONEY. EVEN IF THE SELLER OFFERS TO REFUND YOUR MONEY, THROUGH GUILT THAT THEY HAVE BEEN FOUND OUT, YOU MUST STILL CONSIDER LEAVING THEM A NEGATIVE TO WARD OFF OTHER BUYERS AND CRUSH THIS SCAM ONCE AND FOR ALL! WE HAVE TO BE CAREFUL HERE AND YOU DO NEED TO SATISFY YOURSELF 100% THAT YOU HAVE BEEN SCAMMED BEFORE YOU CONSIDER LEAVING THEM A NEGATIVE.
THE ONLY TRUE WAY TO KNOW IF THIS ITEM HAS ANY CHANCE OF BEING GENUINE IS IF YOU HAVE BOTH THE SERIAL NUMBER AND REGISTRATION NUMBER TOGETHER WITH VALID SALES RECEIPT FROM THE SELLER TO PROTECT YOURSELF. APPLE WILL NOT CARE WHAT YOU HAVE PAID FOR THEIR PRODUCT OR WHERE YOU HAVE BOUGHT IT FROM IF IT IS GENUINE!
So what do you do to protect yourself?
Here's how to stay smart:
1. Read the listing VERY carefully and in full. If the seller states that they email the code or say things like one seller does, "if you are not sure how you will receive your code, please ask!" then do so! Ask, if it is sent via email only - REPORT THEM TO EBAY using the Report Item link just below their User ID in the top right of the listing. Basically, our advice is NOT to buy unless you are going to receive the physical box or unless you receive the registration code AND the serial number attributable to it.
2. If you do decide to purchase from one of these sellers, be straight with Apple. As soon as you receive your AppleCare code, call Apple customer service (0844 209 0611 in the UK), tell them that you have bought the AppleCare on Ebay and verify that the AppleCare Registration Number AND Serial Number are linked and BOTH valid.
NEVER buy a code online if the seller will not give you the serial number of the box it came in or if they will not send the box out - THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!
3. If you do receive a boxed package - check to see if the serial number is located outside. Call AppleCare and let them know the serial number and if it is valid. If no serial number is on the box, take a high resolution photo of the bar code beneath the Registration Number on the AppleCare Web Registration Instruction booklet which you should receive from the seller. Email us and ask us to check it out for you. Because we want to clean Ebay up of these fraudsters, we will offer to scan the bar code from our computer screen or a print off of the picture you send us as this is the serial number and this will give you the actual serial number of the box. We will then send you the serial number which we scan so that you have the serial number related to the Registration Number!
We are doing ourselves out of business by offering this service but we will be kicking the fraudsters directly where it hurts - in the pocket!
4. If the serial turns out to be genuine, all well and good - you've obviously found yourself a bargain! If not, you've earnt yourself a refund and got one step nearer to ridding Ebay of the illegal scammers.
ANOTHER SCAMMING METHOD!
Here is another method that scammers are using to take advantage of their customers. There are sellers who are buying real Applecare packages, opening the box - and then selling the codes to customers for whatever price. My oh my! What generous people! WRONG!
Once the customer buys the product, receives the code and activates it - after a few months the seller applies for a refund on the AppleCare! (for the remaining months of warranty) The seller will get their money back, while the customer will lose any remaining warranty and will have no ability to get their money back from the seller.
Apple will contact the person who registered the registration code and will ask to see a receipt and the serial number of the packaged box - obviously the customer has no such thing as the package was purchased under the seller's name - so only the original seller will get their refund.
Unfortunately, we cannot help you with this other than by scanning a photo of a barcode you send us to give you the serial number, you will have one piece of information in the Apple jigsaw that the seller refused to give you. But if you do not send us this immediately upon purchase and receipt of item from the seller then once 45 days has passed, PayPal will NOT refund your money!
It really is a minefield if you don't know what to look for and hopefully our guide and assistance will go some way to redressing the balance on Ebay and stop these sorry people blatantly ripping people off with their clever tactics.
AMENDMENT: 23 October 2010
I have recently spoken to Apple and finally it seems that they have got a grasp of the scammers now by implementing a Proof of Purchase submission as an additional security.
This seems to have done the trick as Ebay seems to now be clear, touch wood, of robbing Japanese and sellers in the USA who were so prevalent only a month or so ago.
This is largely due to the fact that as of 1st October, the additional security measures were implemented. Hopefully, they will not affect us as a seller of highly discounted genuine AppleCare Protection Plans just because we are not an authorised reseller. Time will tell.