I am sharing my own personal nightmare experience here to help warn eBay shoppers and sellers about the serious dangers that could be faced if good people are not careful, well informed and cautious while buying or selling on eBay. Knowledge is our very best defense, read carefully and learn how to protect yourself.
Sellers, don't be fooled into thinking that you are too smart to be attacked! However, there are some things that you can do to make your account a little less vulnerable.
A shocking number of eBay seller’s accounts are being “hijacked” for the sole purpose of stealing money from innocent shoppers. I know this because my own account was taken over by pirates. These despicable thieves are out to take unsuspecting buyers for every penny that they can get. This scam is perpetrated by stealing the good name and honest reputation of highly respected eBay sellers. The pirates “sell” non-existent items (they even steal the pictures and descriptions from other listings). Buyers pay the "seller" in good faith and receive NOTHING but grief in return. Meanwhile, the actual owner of the eBay account ends up with the lost business from the legitimate items that were hijacked AND a damaged reputation, OR WORSE!
Fortunately, for me, I monitor my account very closely and I was able to thwart them before any real damage could be done. However, those shameless perpetrators just moved on to some other unsuspecting eBay member and continued to try to STEAL YOUR YOUR HARD-EARNED MONEY.
SELLERS, BE WARNED - MONITOR YOUR EBAY ACCOUNT VERY CLOSELY!
I learned quite a bit of very useful information from my ID theft experience and I thought it might be a good idea to let others know how to spot these low-life thieves, before they succeed in stealing your money. My fiasco happened in the States, but I am certain that my British friends might be interested to learn from my experience.
BUYERS: Here are a few things to watch for that might tip you off to a potential “scam” listing.
1. The "seller" looks completely respectable, with a very good to excellent feedback rating. There is no reason for a criminal to hijack the account of a disreputable seller. The bad guys are looking for highly respected sellers, the more honest and professional the better. Consequently, a 100% feedback rating and glowing feedback comments do not guarantee a safe transaction. In fact, the better the seller, the more attractive they are to the bad guys. They want to use the seller’s great reputation to lull potential victims into a false sense of security. This is done by eBay identity theft, commonly called "ID piracy".
2. The “seller” asks potential bidders to contact them before bidding. They will give very legitimate looking reasons for you to contact them directly. The real reason is to get you to buy “off-eBay” (where you "the buyer" have almost no protection). The scammer will try to convince you that this is done to save on eBay fees so that you can “get a better deal”.
3. The suspected “seller” is often listing a very expensive item that is not usually offered by the real owner of the eBay account. When you find a £1,000.00 professional camera lens for sale by an eBay member who usually sells a lot of books, teddy bears or DVD movies, you should be very suspicious. Most people who legitimately sell expensive high-tech units tend to specialize in those items. Look at the sellers “Other Items For Sale” and their feedback to see if they regularly sell products similar to the item that is offered in the listing. If the item for sale looks "out-of-place" for this seller, you need to do more investigating before making any kind of commitment.
4. The “deal” looks like a fantastic opportunity to save a lot of money. When that £150.00 Apple iPhone is offered for £10.00, you should already know better (your mother told you all about this). Legitimate sellers do not “give away” their products. Since this is not a “real” auction, the item has to be sold "off-eBay", with the pirate’s own version of “Buy-It-Now”. This is actually a “Rip-You-Off-Now” deal. Look for the official eBay "Buy-It-Now" button on the listing. If that "button" is not there, this guy is up to no good! NEVER BUY AN EBAY LISTED ITEM DIRECTLY FROM ANY SELLER... EVER! Legitimate sales are always completed through proper "eBay approved" methods of payment.
NO REPUTABLE SELLER WOULD EVER ASK YOU TO BUY AN EBAY LISTED ITEM DIRECTLY FROM THEM... EVER!
5. Current bidder’s IDs are often displayed as “Private”. This prevents well-informed eBay members from contacting the poor “sucker” to warn him or her about the impending scam. We all try to help each other out when we can, and the bad guys know this. The practice of making all bidders appear as “Private” should be viewed as a red flag. (Although, there are some legitimate reasons for this practice. Just be sure that you know why this is being done before you place a bid.)
6. These suspicious items are usually offered in a “1-Day listing”. Some choose the 2 or 3-day listing option, but rarely. The pirates know that they need to make a quick "hit & run", before their scam is identified and shut-down.
The bottom line is, and you have heard it a thousand times (but it is still just as true as ever);
“If the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is!”
Buyers, be smart and stay safe!
SELLERS: Here are a few simple tips that might help to keep you (and your buyers) out of trouble.
2. Try to identify the method that was used to steal your identity. It could have been a fraud eBay notification or any number of "phishing" scams. If you can figure out how they got your password, you might be able to prevent it form happening again. These guys are unbelievably good at what they do. I thought that it would be impossible for anyone to ever steal my password, I am as cautious and skeptical as any human on earth, but they got me with a very real looking "Account Suspended" notice containing a link to a fake eBay "sign in" page.
3. Always "Sign In" to eBay directly from your regular sign in page through www.eBay.co.uk. Never use a sign in window that is provided from a "convenient" link, no matter how normal or legitimate it looks. That's how they got me!
4. Always check "My Messages" to verify that official looking eBay notifications actually originated from eBay. If the message ONLY appears in your regular eMail account, IT IS NOT FROM EBAY!
5. Always forward suspicious looking eMail to "firstname.lastname@example.org" or "email@example.com". Do NOT assume that someone else has already reported this "phishing" message. They can't catch someone that they don't know about.
7. Use different passwords for your eMail, eBay and PayPal accounts. Many people use the same password just to keep things easier. This is a huge mistake. It would be bad enough to have your seller's account taken over, it would be worse to loose the entire balance in your PayPal account, or in some cases even your bank account and credit card funds.
8. Keep back-up copies of your listing scripts and photos. This will make it MUCH easier to re-list the items that had been hijacked and consequently closed down. This is a bit like closing the barn door after the horses have escaped, but it is still a good idea. Hopefully, if you have actually started following tips 1 through 7, this will never be an issue, but you never know when some evil genius will find a way around all of the other safeguards.
IF SELLERS DON'T GET HIJACKED, BUYERS WILL NOT BE SCAMMED OUT OF THEIR MONEY BY FAKE AUCTIONS. LET'S NIP THIS PROBLEM IN THE BUD. PROTECT YOUR SELLER'S ACCOUNT!
You and I can actually fight these evil criminals!
We can’t stop all of them, but every fraudulent listing that we can eliminate is at least one less potential innocent victim. EBay is a real community, populated by real people. We owe it to ourselves, and our good “neighbors” to help out by policing the community as the “eyes and ears” for the eBay Safety Centre Team (eBay’s “Police Force”). Here is what we all must do to eliminate as many of these bad guys as possible.
When you find a suspected scam listing, please report it to eBay's Safety Centre. It is very easy to do.
1. Just click on “Report this item” at the bottom of the questionable listing page.
2. Select “Fraudulent listing (illegal seller demands...” and also choose “You suspect that the listing is fraudulent (you didn’t bid)” from the menu of options, AND THEN click “Continue”.
It is extremely important that you complete ONE MORE STEP!
3. Click on “Email us with your question or concern”, and include a short note about your suspicion. A simple “Seller requesting off-eBay sale, ID looks hijacked” will do just fine.
EBay takes these reports very seriously and acts quickly. Place the item in your “Watch List” and see how quickly it disappears. If you are wrong, and it is a legitimate listing, no harm has been done. Trust and Safety will investigate, you are just saying that you are suspicious, they will know for certain if it is a case of hijacking and take the appropriate action.
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