Al Gore invented the Internet, and the Internet is like a shady nightclub full of mobsters and miscreants. The Internet has made it possible for every geek with an evil streak to become a full-fledged criminal.
My experience with Ebay has been love-hate from the beginning. I love being able to sell to such a huge market, and I hate that the large market includes about 25% scammers. Fraud is so rampant on Ebay that they have to have a huge division to deal with it, and frankly, they’re doing a piss-poor job.
I’ve sold about 25 things on Ebay in the past year, and 6 of those involved some form of fraud. Fortunately for me, it’s always been buyer fraud (they try to get stuff from me for free) and not seller fraud (where I pay and get nothing). The sophistication of these scams is a marvel to behold. If the same energy were harnessed to solve the world’s energy crisis or cure cancer, we’d have both problems knocked out in about a week.
The early scams were lame and transparent. You’d get an email where the name would say “Abu Ebuoforitoan” and the message would be something to the effect of “Please click this link http://10.124.52.92/~paypal and enter your Paypal username and password to confirm your account”. You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that’s a scam. The emails back then didn’t even LOOK like the Paypal emails.
Since then, it’s reached a whole new level. The latest scam I was almost taken by was very well executed. The scammer hijacked a legitimate Ebay user account and clicked “Buy it Now” on my listing. Shortly thereafter, they sent a very authentic looking email to me that looked like a Paypal payment notification. It was odd, however, because it came to my secondary Paypal email address. However, stranger things have happened and I was still game, because payment is payment.
This morning I came in and went to Paypal to create a shipping label for UPS. I went through the whole thing, and then at the end, it said “Your Paypal balance is $0.00, your checking account will be charged for the shipping.” And I said “WHOA, THERE!”
I immediately emailed scam-boy and told him the money wasn’t there. He told me to look at the “Paypal” payment email and make sure I verified my email address, because the account was unconfirmed, which meant the funds were in limbo (according to him). Well, that sounds pretty darn flaky, but I went ahead and looked at the email again.
There was a link… something like http://CONFIRM.HUMPDICKER.FAKE.US/PAYPAL/CONFIRM. Just for the fun of it, I clicked the link, and it took me to a VERY authentic looking Paypal spoof… and get this, it even showed paypal.com in my browser URL. However, it asked me to confirm personal information and a quick glance down was all it took to see I was on an unsecure site. Paypal wouldn’t ask for personal information anyhow, but they certainly wouldn’t do it without SSL.
Then comes the really fun part. I email fraud-boy again and tell him I’m wise to his plot. IMMEDIATELY, he CALLS me on my cell phone (SCARY) and begins to threaten me! I’m not making this up! This guy was so mad I didn’t fall for his scam he had the gall to go off on ME!!
I told him I was reporting him to everyone I could think of and hung up on him.
After 45 minutes of talking to Ebay, I realized why they were victim to so much fraud. They are idiots.
So, in a last-ditch effort to make this ugly transaction go away, I emailed the guy and told him if he agreed to mutually withdraw from the transaction, I wouldn’t report his activity.
We mutually withdrew.
Then I reported him. 🙂
Scammers 0, Incredipete 1
Watch yourselves out there!