Monday, August 14, 2006

Newest Nigerian Scam

John has tried to sell two laptops on ebay. In both of the listings he clearly stated that he would only sell to US buyers. At the time he was not aware that he could block bidders registered in other countries.

The first auction was won by a bidder from Spain. He emailed the bidder and contacted ebay. The bidder agreed to withdraw his bid and the computer was relisted and sold to someone in the US.

The next auction saw quite a few bids but went to a bidder from Sweden. Again he contacted the bidder and ebay. Things went differently this time however. He received an email that appeared to be from paypal that payment had been made and the funds were being held in escrow until the buyer received the computer.

We have gotten many spoof emails pretending to be from paypal. Paypal tells you that they will always address you by the name you registered with which has always made the phonies easy to spot. The email that John received addressed him by his registered name and looked official.

How did he know it was fake? He didn't at first but it all seemed wrong. Funds being held in escrow? The buyer was registered in Sweden but had supposedly sent the money from a Nigerian account and wanted it shipped to Nigeria.

He checked his paypal account and there was nothing there so he contacted them and sure enough it was a spoof email. Meanwhile they continued to send more emails trying to bully John into shipping the computer. Had he fallen for this he would have been out a computer, shipping costs and ebay fees.

He contacted ebay and pointed out that the bidder was fraudulent. Ebay responded that he had to wait until the bidder retracted his bid or 7-10 business days. He contacted them again and was told that the bidder was no longer a register user but he'd still have to wait. All of the ebay responses seemed to be automatically generated, we don't think that an actual person looked at any of them. Never did ebay point out that he could block bidders in the future, we found that on our own after wading through their unhelpful HELP menu.

After 10 days he was able to again request that his final value fees be refunded. They won't refund his listing fees although he may be able to relist it for free.

I have gotten some bargains on ebay over the years and I have sold a few things. But ebay has gotten too big and is no longer interested in the little guys, they want power sellers and to rake in the bucks. Support costs them money so good luck getting any. My ebay days may be waning. I wish Bean luck as she trys to start a home based business with ebay. (So far she is doing quite well.)

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