I recently listed my iPod on eBay and it sold for a tasty £205. I was a little surprised that it went for so much, but was definitely happy about it. I started to get suspicious when i got an invoice request from the buyer with the following message:
Dear Seller, Am happy to be the winner of your item and am sorry for not reading the item description ,so i will be sending it to my Store in Abroad,so i will be responsible for the shipping costs and i will be paying you via PayPal ONLINE PAYMENT,so i want the shipping via ( Royal Mail First Class Delivery ) so get back to me asap You can email me to my private email address firstname.lastname@example.org You can call me on +447024061033
As a grand master eBayer myself, i thought this was a little strange. Giving an alternate email address and phone number in the email was a little odd, as was the bad English and unclear message. I promptly reported this to eBay’s Trust and Safety department to have them look into it, and requested the buyer’s contact details before heading to bed.
The next day i awoke to a plethora of emails in my inbox regarding this. eBay confirmed that the buyer’s account had been breached and therefore the sale was invalid. They then removed the item from eBay altogether so that i was not able to give a ‘Second Chance Offer’ and sell to the next highest bidder, or indeed hit the ‘Relist’ button to save me re-writing the auction description.
The rest of the emails were from the fraudsters; both from eBay and PayPal which look very genuine and ask me to ship the item to an address in Nigeria and then enter the tracking number into my PayPal account (they don’t mention where in my PayPal account since there is certainly no box to do it). Upon entering this information, the funds will clear into my account.
What interests me about this whole fiasco is the following:
- as an eBay seller who has sold an item to a fraudster, i’m basically slapped back to where i was 5 days ago before i listed the item. I’ve lost out completely. If i was leaving the country tomorrow, i wouldn’t be able to re-list and sell my item, instead, i’d have wasted my time and still have whatever i was trying to sell. Not great service from eBay there!
- the persistence and skill of the fraudsters, yet their inability to write a clear email in English! The emails i received were all fairly well designed (though many of them were picked up by my crafty Gmail Spam filter) but all had terrible grammar mistakes and sections which didn’t make sense.
- Nigeria! What on earth is it about Nigeria. This seems to be a fairly common problem on eBay, and it always seems to involve shipping to Nigeria!
- the number of people that must fall victim to this type of crime. If i was less eBay savvy and didn’t use Gmail, i could easily have thought these emails were real, and shipped my £200 iPod off to the other side of the world.
It therefore appears to me that this is a rather serious problem that eBay (and possibly the Nigerian Government) need to be looking into a little deeper, and doing something about. I’ve been contacted by eBay before to say that my account had been breached and that i should change my password immediately. Even i used to use a short, common word as my password. I promptly changed that one to a unique 12 digit alpha-numeric code and have thankfully since been fine.
Do you use 1 password for everything? Have you thought about changing it recently? A piece of paper on your wall with all your 12 digit alpha-numeric passwords written on it is probably a lot safer than using your name for them all!
EDIT: The most recent email i’ve received (because yes, this is still ongoing!) is that eBay will take legal action against me if i do not ship the item in the next 24-48 hours! This is serious harrassment! It doesn’t bother me that much, but think if this was your granny trying to clear out her attic! Because the internet is faceless, this is no different to conning old ladies out of their pensions, or robbing disabled people because you know they can’t get up.
2nd EDIT: It’s getting a little ridiculous! I’ve not been told that legal action is being taken against me, and i’ve had an email from the FBI who will presumably (because i didn’t read it) be looking into the transaction and prosecuting me!