My first experience with eBay has not been good. I posted my camera for sale on Sunday afternoon and the set-up process was simple and easy. I decided to list the camera for 30 days at a fixed price, I figured it would take a while to sell but to my surprise I received an alert on my iPad and in my email around 10:15 PM that said my camera had been sold.
The email from eBay appeared to be legitimate and so did the next email from PayPal saying that I had been given $950 in my account for my camera. I was then emailed by someone named Bill Dall using firstname.lastname@example.org saying that he bought this camera for his son’s birthday and could I please use USPS Express Mail for next day delivery.
Thinking this was a legitimate sale I packed up my camera and headed off to the post office. Before I left I checked my PayPal account and saw that there was a 0.00 balance. I was a bit confused but when I read the email from PayPal again it said that the transaction may take a few hours to show up. Here is a sample of the email I received.
I asked a few people about this process and they didn’t think there was anything to worry about especially since it said that I had been paid. What I didn’t do was Google PayPal scams because if I had I would have realized there were some major red flags with the email I received.
The first thing that should have tipped me off was that the emails were riddled with typos. The second was this buyer sent me $100 extra for expedited shipping. The third red flag was when they told me to ship the item and they would then release my payment from the PayPal escrow account.
What these scam artists count on is a new buyer, like myself, overlooking the small details because they are so thrilled about their first sale and just shipping off the goods.
In my case, I actually went through the trouble of packing the camera, taking it to the post office and shipped it express just like he asked.
It wasn’t until I got back to my office when I got a weird feeling about this whole transaction. I decided to copy a section of the email I received from “PayPal” and put it into Google. Low and behold there were numerous stories about this not being a real PayPal email. I Googled the reference number and it matched up with a Nigerian scam that appears to use “spoof PayPal” emails as a way to lure their victims.
All of the sudden that weird feeling I had turned to horror when I realized I had just sent my $850 camera to a bunch of con artists. I tried to convince myself it was on the up and up but I just had to come to grips with the fact that I was the sucker.
I wasn’t about to go down without a fight so I jumped in my car and hauled ass back to the post office. While I drove the 15 minutes back to the post office I called PayPal and was on hold the whole way.
I basically ran into the empty post office waving my receipt and began my tale of woe.
The post office employee sensed my concern and looked around the counter area but wasn’t able to locate it, my heart sank. He said my camera was already gone but after he said that he decided to check with the guy in the back. I literally closed my eyes while I waited and when I opened them he walked out with my package in hand, crisis averted.
The people at the post office could not have been nicer or more accommodating. They asked me for my ID, I filled out a form and they returned my package and what I paid for shipping. I felt like I just saved myself from looking like a true sucker. But then I thought about how many people must fall for this type of scam because these scammers use eBay to prowl for their victims.
According to a couple of online searches this was a scam that was started in the UK and came from Nigeria.
I still can’t believe how easily I was fooled by their “spoof” emails but they looked so real I was duped. I feel bad for the people who didn’t get the feeling this wasn’t a legit deal and sent off their goods.
Since they are using this scam on eBay users in the US you’d think PayPal would be more aggressive in trying to track down them down because this can’t be good for business. As I said, my first experience selling on eBay has not been good.
Update: I re-listed my item last night and to my surprise I received an email today saying that my item sold again. The content of the email was nearly exactly the same as the one I was sent on Tuesday.
I can’t imagine what this type of scam does for eBay and I wonder if they even care. You would think that any customer in their database is susceptible to this kind of con and they should be more proactive in tracking down the perpetrators.
How does a billion dollar corporation allow this sort of con take place, let alone twice in one week?I am ready to abandon my eBay experience and I warn anybody who is new to the site to beware of this type of scam.
– William L Huffman