- The 'Informational' Auction
Easy to spot. You're not bidding on the item -- you're bidding on a badly compiled e-book listing the seller's favorite pyramid scheme or 'track matrix distributon channel' or what the hell ever. Miscategorized and irritating.
- The Western-Union Grab-n-Blow
So you place a bid on some hot item. A day later, you get an email from someone who claims he's selling exactly the same item, at a bizzarely low price. "I saw you bidding on that, and I think I can sell it to you for less." The seller will only do business through Western Union, because, he says, "It's the safest."
- Since he contacted you directly, he may not actually have an eBay account. No feedback, no confirmed address.
- You can neither reverse, nor trace, any money sent through Western Union. Once you send it, it's gone. Most likely to a crook with a fake name and an address that doesn't exist.
- Want to aggravate him? Tell him you'll pay cash, but you'll only do it in person. Then subscribe his email to ten porn-spam lists.
- The PayPal Reverse-o-Rama
Say you've got a shiny little iPod, and you put it up for sale. Someone asks you if you're willing to ship it overnight, and you say - "What the hell, why not?". The buyer immediately purchases the item, at your asking price, and immediately pays you, through PayPal. At the bottom of the payment receipt, a note is attached: "Please ship to blah-de-blah address at blah-de-blah state, blah blah." Wow, your item is already sold and paid for! Time to send it out!
- Your item only looks like it was paid for. The money is not safe until it is actually out of the PayPal system, and in your bank account. And perhaps not even then. Why? The PayPal support staff will mindlessley reverse or suspend any transactions made by a user who claims his account was 'hacked into' or 'stolen'.
- If you send your item out overnight-shipping, it will arrive in the crook's hands in time for him to file such a complaint - and suspend his transaction indefinitely. You lose your money. He keeps your item.
- PayPal has tried to combat this situation by making their users confirm their home address, through an elaborate system involving their bank statement. Buried in their site is a cautionary note that eBay sellers should never ship to anything but the confirmed address. Not that it matters ... even a crook with a confirmed address can still complain his account was 'haxored', and stop you from getting your money.
- PayPal won't do jack-crap to help you. They won't help you stop your package from arriving. They will not let you have the payment. They'd rather "protect" their users from fraudulent transactions -- with the very mechanism that allows them to happen in the first place.
- How to avoid this? Easy. Never ship the item until the money is OUT OF PAYPAL. Even if it's to a 'confirmed address'.
- The 'Private Auction' Redirect
Look! It's an Apple laptop, on sale for a ridiculous buy-it-now price! But the auction is private! Let's send an email to the seller, asking how we can be approved to bid!
- Weeellll, you don't actually buy-it-now on eBay. However, if you send the money Western Union, to this address... Pffft.
- Oh it's easy! Just sign up for my newsletter and join my ponzi-pyramid, or subscribe to my e-book distribution site... Arrrrggh
- Oh sorry I sold it already! In the meantime, your email has been logged by my spam server, for future mailings.
- The Creep-up-and Shaft 'Em Maneuver
Hrmm, he's selling five expensive laptops at a really good price. He'll accept PayPal, Western Union, casheir's check, maybe even personal checks. But not credit cards. His feedback is stellar, and from a diverse range of people, and he's got a lot of it. Wow, looks perfect! I'll take two!
- All the feedback is for items worth a couple bucks. Selling or buying, he's never made a transaction larger than five bucks.
- He's racked up a lot of transactions in the last few months ... and his account is only a few months old.
- You guessed it. Once he receives ten checks for $2000 each, and clears all the funds, he's outta here.
- The Escrow Screw
Say you put your rather expensive item online. A few days in, you get an offer from someone who is willing to buy, perhaps even at an inflated price, because he really wants this item. However, since it's so expensive, he's worried about the security of his money, so he wants to do escrow. Good idea, but there's a catch.
- He insists on using his most trusted paid escrow service: www.paid-escrow.net - or whatever.
- Look, he's set it up already! There's his money, in a page on the site! All you have to do is ship it out, and enter your tracking and bank information in the page, and soon the prize will be yours.
- Yeah right. You're totally screwed now.
- Do NOT use an escrow service you are not ONE HUNDRED percent certain of.
- The Sudden Section Buyout
So you want to buy a particular expensive item, like a laptop. You go to the laptop section and there are a dozen good auctions running. Perfect! You place a bid on a few, and sit back. A few days later, you log in, and - damn! - user F0RKBOY79 has outbid you. In fact, they've outbid everyone. In fact, they've bought almost every laptop for sale, or made outrageous offers for them. You've been priced right out of the market! Hrmm. Well, -- except for that one. Somehow, it slipped through the cracks. The price is a bit higher than you'd pay, but what the heck, it's the cheapest one available, now.
- You check back in a week - F0RKBOY79 has an avalanche of bad feedback. He didn't pay for any of the laptops he won.
- It's clear now that he was a seller -- messing with the competition, so he'd get a better price on his own sale.
- Not much you can do except wait for the bastard to sell his product, and clear out. In the meantime, he's wasted everyone's time and listing fees.