From The Audio Journal Of A DigitalFreak
Sound Byte: Beware Of Online Crooks
Usually when I post on this thread in this manner I like to post concerning a topic that is informative or uplifting. One of the main reasons I routinely come to this thread is to escape the outside world and have amusing and informative discussions with my fellow diary club members. Unfortunately today this entry is going to be a very negative entry because no matter how anyone tries to temporarily escape the outside the outside sometimes floods in. When it inevitably does it's rarely a good thing. This entry is not meant to be a rant but a written warning to all my fellow tribe members. Please read on and all will be explained in time.
A few months ago I decided to create my own eBay account. The reason behind it was to buy a few small odds and ends for cheap. Thus far I haven't really bought much off the various eBay sellers. If it be openly known I've only bought a couple of cheap IEM cases a couple of meters of 3M Dual Lock a pack of rubber sticky feet for my Blu Ray player and a couple of ohm adapters for my Studio V player. So basically it's all been cheap priced small items used to make my hobby of audio a more pleasant experience. All transactions went well and all the little odds and ends I chose to buy worked well enough, arrived in a timely fashion, and their condition was exactly as described. After getting my feet wet on eBay I decided why not try my hand at selling some unwanted gear and see how it would work out. Thus far everything had gone well and besides I could choose to list my item to be paid under PayPal which to me was a huge plus. Little did I know my choice to use PayPal as my payment option would be my sole saving grace. Feeling confident I listed an item that was in good condition and posted up a series of pics showing the condition of said item. When finalizing my listing I chose the option to list it for the next 10 days thinking if it didn't sell it probably wouldn't sell. I hit the little sale icon watched my posting go up onto the eBay database and sat back waiting to see if there would be any interest.
The listing was barely up a day before I got a couple of offers from some low ballers looking to score a deal. I expected that of coarse and had my listing set up to automatically reject any low ball offers so as not to be bothered with erroneous emails. Roughly two days later I go to my Google Mail and bang, in my inbox is a email from eBay stating my item had sold. Feeling rather happy my listing sold so quickly I immediately went to my eBay account and began to check the details behind the sale. In the details section of my sold listing was a message left by the buyer saying she was so happy she was able to buy my item and asking if I would be kind enough to email her the exact condition of the item via a email address she provided and she also wanted my PayPal address so she could send payment. I jotted down the buyers address (the buyer was a woman in the USA) for shipping purposes and was a little surprised she would leave an email address due to the fact the rules on eBay state that all contact between seller and buyer should be done on the eBay messaging service. I quickly checked the buyers profile and noticed she had 100% positive feedback and that she had been using eBay for only a short while. I concluded she was just a eBay noob who didn't know the rules and fired off a quick email answering her questions. In that email I also told her she could have PayPaled me the money through eBay and that in future she should contact me through eBays messaging service. At this point all seems to be on the up and up and I'm not worried about to much
That night I packed up the item she had bought and addressed it to the buyers address in the USA. It was Saturday night and the plan was to shoot by the post office on Monday and drop it off to be delivered. Before going to bed I quickly logged onto my PayPal account and noticed the funds for the sold item had still not been deposited into my account. Guessing she had not gotten around to it yet I retired for the night. The next morning I woke up fixed myself my standard cup of coffee and sat behind my laptop to quickly check my emails. What I found would make me shake my head. Amongst my emails was a email from eBay indicating that the sale of my item had been cancelled due to a possible third party login and the sold listing had been removed pending further investigation. Feeling rather surprised I rechecked everything on my eBay and then my PayPal. All seemed well on my eBay and on my PayPal there still hadn't been any funds sent to my account. Thinking this had been a possible scammer or maybe just some confusion on eBay's part I decided to unpack the item and sit back and wait and see what would happen. Thus far I'm not sure what to expect and I was rather surprised concerning what had happened.
A few hours later I would receive two emails in my Google mail, one from eBay stating that the investigation had concluded and the third party login was erroneous and the second was from the buyer. According to the buyer she was in New Zealand on a business trip and the third party login was her daughter who was in the USA. Supposedly she had told her daughter she had bought an item from eBay and her daughter had logged in to check on the listing causing the online eBay security to trigger. Seeming like a plausible story I fired back an email to the buyer indicating all was well and I understood her problem and was sorry this had happened to her. I also included a statement that I had the item ready to ship and addressed to her home in the USA and I would drop it in the mail once I received payment in my PayPal account. Roughly a couple of hours later I got another email fired back at me from the buyer. This time it was to indicate that she had sent payment and that she wanted me to change the shipping address to an address in Nigeria. Her reason for the change, she had bought my item for a friend as a gift and he was doing missionary work in Nigeria. She then went on to say she understood that shipping would be far more expensive to Nigeria so she had PayPaled me extra money for shipping. She then closed off her email by saying that I should check all my email folders for the email from PayPal and that I shouldn't forget to send my tracking information to PayPal for verification because they would hold the funds until tracking information was sent to them.
Wha?!?!?!?! The last statement made no sense to me because I had used PayPal various times on both eBay and for Head-Fi buys/sales and had never ever had funds held until shipping was verified. Another thing, how did she know I would find the PayPal email in another folder and not in my inbox? All past emails from PayPal had always arrived directly to my inbox so what was up with that? Red flags going up in my brain I took a quick look in my spam folder to find not one but two emails from PayPal. I opened up the first one to find a letter stating that funds for eBay # so and so had been received from seller so and so and that I should email PayPal shipping information within 24 hours. On top of that the amount indicated was wayyyyyyy higher then would ever be needed for added shipping to Nigeria. The second email was also from PayPal, this one was a letter concerning how they were helping to keep eBay clean of scammers and included in the letter was a link to a news article about how a couple of Latvian scammers had been arrested due to vigilant policing by both eBay and PayPal. The letter then closed with the statement I should send my item to the seller ASAP and send tracking information to PayPal ASAP to ensure my account stayed clean of any blemishes. In short it was a scare letter and that email was what really tipped me off concerning what was going on. PayPal would never send a letter out to a seller with a veiled threat behind it. Now red flags are really waving in my head and I've gone from understanding to full out pissed off. I quickly rechecked my PayPal and again noted my account still had no transaction showing up from the eBay buyer. I then went back to the supposed PayPal emails and began checking them more closely as well as the eBay email from eBay saying the buyer had been cleared of any wrong doing. Guys, believe me when I tell you the headings and wording were absolutely perfect and they looked exactly like an email eBay or PayPal would send out. The final tip off for me was the senders address on the PayPal emails. The freaking address was very similar except for one added letter. Now I'm really pissed.
Long story short, I logged onto PayPal and got some numbers for the customer support lines. I gave the person on the other end all the information concerning the transaction (transaction # and eBay item #) and asked her if the story I got from the buyer made any sense and if PayPal held back funds. The customer support person immediately told me that the emails didn't make any sense nor did the information I had given her. She had checked my account and she could assure me there was no funds being held back by PayPal nor did PayPal routinely put a hold on eBay transactions out of the blue. She then told me not to send the item out and that I should send the supposed PayPal emails to their security division for further investigation. I thanked the support person and got busy forwarding the erroneous PayPal emails to PayPal security. I sat back and waited feeling rather mad some online crook was trying to scam me out of my hard earned property. A couple of hours later I got another PayPal email only this time this email was the real deal and had arrived in my inbox. The email would verify what I had already deduced, the email was a fake and it was a scam that was well known to PayPal. They had checked further into the matter and found that the eBay account of the buyer had been compromised by a 3rd party login and eBay had shut the account down. He then went on further to say the eBay email I had received earlier saying the investigation was ended was also erroneous. In short I had come within a hairs breath of being scammed by a very good con artist. I closed the email and decided I was going to check into something just to be on the absolute safe side. I returned to the buyers original email and fired off another email to him/her saying I had forwarded the PayPal payment verification email to PayPal security for verification. I then said I wouldn't discuss anything concerning this transaction in private email and that I wouldn't send anything out until I got a verification from PayPal saying the emails weren't erroneous. I sent it out and sat back and waited. Roughly thirty minutes later I got another email again it was in my spam folder and again it was from the fake PayPal address. This time it was a letter saying all information had been verified and I should send out shipping information immediately. Yeah right pull the other one.
I write this as a warning to all my fellow boppers on this thread and on this site. We all work hard for our money so we can have nice things. Be very very vigilant online and practice a healthy amount of cynicism. I didn't and it nearly cost me.
Edited by DigitalFreak - 11/26/12 at 5:04pm