I have been using Ebay for several years now, and have seen an increase in the number of fraudsters and scammers recently. i now get several "dodgy" e-mails a week, and know what to look for, but for those of you who are new - i will try to assist a little.
Now i am no expert when it comes to computing, i just know enough to get me by, here are a few simple tips that will hopefully keep you out of trouble.
1 - NEVER CLICK A LINK !
Important tip number 1 - look out for those emails. I have now had more than my fair share of emails supposedly from ebay urging me to "click the link below" to resolve the issue. The point to this little scam is to direct you to a fake site, where you are supposed to enter your user name and password - hey presto - your ebay account is now hi-jacked, some little toe-rag can now pretend to be you on ebay - they can set up lots of fake auctions and collect cash under the guise of your hard earned reputation.
The rule is - NEVER click a link on an email, even if you believe it is genuine. instead, always log into your ebay account, and use the "messages" section to respond. Fraudsters will try all sorts of methods to get you to click the link, i have seen many variations from "account suspended" and "urgent attention required" to "question for seller" and "congratulations on becoming a power seller". Most of the questions for seller are easy to spot, as they are for an item you never sold or bid on, but i had a good one recently where they had actually taken the time to key in a genuine item number from one of my current auctions, and asked a relevant question.
If you are unsure about an email, you can forward it to ebays spoof team at ebay they are pretty good, and usually reply fairly quickly to tell you if it was genuine or not.
watch out too for similar emails claiming to be from paypal, always log direct into paypal at paypal.com, never click a link in an email claiming to take you there.
2. THE WESTERN UNION SCAM
This one is now getting a bit outdated, as too many people are aware of it, and ebay warn people of it. The winner of your auction sends you a lovely fake email claiming to be from western union, stating you have guaranteed cleared funds waiting for you, and you must post the item straight away.
tip number 2 - dont accept western union, or any other money transfer company. Paypal has been set up by ebay, for use on ebay - it is so much easier to track payments and verify they are genuine.
3 - THE PAYPAL SCAM
This one is pretty new, too many people are aware of the western union scam (above) so they are trying another angle. You get an email full of lovely paypal logos, stating your payment has been approved, but it will not appear on your account until you have sent the item and entered a tracking number for the parcel. This is total garbage ! - simply log into ebay and look at your sold items. Unless the lttle £ symbol is lit up stating item has been paid via paypal, do not send the goods. If you are still unsure, log into your paypal account, and see if the money is there. If it is not - then do not send the goods. Forward the email to spoof @paypal.com , they will tell you if its real or not, and will hopefully trace it back to the dirty little scammer and put an end to it (however briefly)
4 - NIGERIA
For some reason, Nigeria appears to be the home of loads of scammers. I dont know why, but most of the fake emails pretending to be payments, ask me to send the item to Nigeria.
So the next tip has to be DO NOT POST ANYTHING TO NIGERIA ! Most scammers are after small, high value items, that you can easily post out, and can be sold-on easily. Favourites are mobile phones and laptops.
5 - THE SHIPPING SCAM
This one seems to be very popular on ebay auctions for cars. A bidder either contacts you before the end of the auction, or whacks in a huge bid at the end. They send you an email claiming to be a car dealer in Nigeria (there it is again!) or elsewhere in Africa. They have a client who is very interested in your vehicle, and wants to send one-off payment to cover the price of the car, plus shipping costs, plus the dealers commision.
Lets say for example you sell your car for £1000, you get a nice western union email saying you have received cleared funds of £1500. All you have to do is send the dealer a personal cheque for the £500 difference so he can arrange the shipping. The truth is he is not interested in the car, he just wants your £500 before you realise the western union payment is a fake. It sounds a bit bizarre, but i understand that many people have fallen for this scam and parted with their hard earned cash.
TIPS FOR BUYERS
If you are buying on ebay and want to avoid being scammed, here are a few guidelines.
Feedback. Your only true way of judging a genuine seller, is by their feedback. Look to see how long they have been on ebay, and click on a few of the item numbers in their feedback to see what they have bought and sold in the past. If they have bought a few cheap items in the last couple of weeks, and are suddenly selling 10 laptops or ipods - it is probably dodgy !
Dont just rely on the feedback score, look at the scores of the people who left the feedback. If they all have very low scores of 2 or 3 points, then it is possible they have opened several ebay accounts and have used them to leave feedback on the others to make it look good. Remember than many new ebayers are very wary, and will only buy from established ebay sellers with high feedback scores.
Read the listing carefully ! - There are many auctions on ebay which appear to be selling the highly desirable item you are after, but when you read the description fully, they are actually just selling " a link to get the item " at an apparantly bargain price. These listings are usually a load of rubbish, but it is common for them occasionally attract some very high bids. i will give you an example - when the x-box 360 was 1st launched they were very scarce. A friend of mine really wanted one and was searching ebay for a bargain, he found a lovely listing for X-box 360 from just £19.99 - it was full of exciting descriptions of his much desired new toy, and loads of flashy photos. He was so overwhelmed by it all he just had to put a bid in fast !........ Luckily he was so excited that he was winning his dream console for just £60 that he had to show me the listing, i spotted the little " you are not buying an xbox, just a link to get it for 19.99" (when you join our pyramid selling program and enrol blah blah blah) - and we managed to retract his bids.
As with most things in life, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is, read the listing carefully so you know exactly what you are buying. If you are not sure, email the seller and ask them. Ebay are pretty good at removing these misleading auctions, but some do still slip through.
Finally, i would like to point out that there are a lot of good, honest and hardworking people out there in the ebay community. So just be on the look out, and think before you bid - and your ebay experience should be smooth and enjoyable.
I hope this guide can help some of you out there to stay safe -
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