Tagged: online scams

Catching a scammer on Ebay – BUSTED!

Ebay has scammers? Unfortunately, they have plenty! The sad part is they’re hard to catch all the time and these guys are extremely smart! Getting scammed for anyone who does more than 25/day might be overwhelmed with the attempts and they can be hard to catch 100% of the time. Fortunately, I was able to catch a guy who almost ran with $1600!

Most of our scams come from user names without any feedback (or little), a new user with a new member indicator and they’re purchasing a high end item with overnight delivery. The bad part is that some decide to ship to unconfirmed address across the board because a significant 15% of sales can come from these users.  Shipping software can prevent some filtering of potentially fraudulent orders with filters in shipworks, but takes some personal attention to find the real scams.

The Scam: This one was obvious after the fact. It was someone who fell for the craigslist job posting scam to make “$300+” per week and needed to start immediatly. Basically, overseas guys steam an ebay/paypal account with cash and have the item shipped to your house. You sign for the packages and will often be told to purchase the item from your computer so it cant be traced with a hacked account. When the item arrives, you send each package overseas to the scammer with the potential to make $30+ per item that you resend. After you’ve sent the first 10 items they offer to pay and then their gone. All the evidence falls on the receiver/buyer of the item and when the original account holder files a claim …your address is at fault. Some are gullible and believe it, other know what’s going on but go along with it. Being paid is common but eventually you’ll get burned hard.

For some reason they tricked us one day when we were off guard. A user bought 7 identical items worth $150+ / unit.  They were shipped overnight through FedEx express and by the time we caught it the packages were already on the way. He had a phone number in the shipping info so I decided to give it a call. Go figure, it was disconnected. Following with a straight forward e-mail of calling the cops if they accepted the package , the scammer did not respond.

At this point I was pretty pissed. Some idiot sits at home and makes more than 98% of Americans by defrauding people from the comfort of his couch. It was getting late in the afternoon and unless we could get something worked out the guy who have the phones and then there’s no hope. I used google earth first just to see what kind of neighboor hood he was in and I was surprised when it was a nice family neighborhood in the city. The image was hard to swallow knowing tomorrows GPS photo might include the scammer accepting the packages from Fedex.

I figured giving this guy’s neighbors a call would undercover a few more facts. I used a reverse directory look up from a website and started to type in potential house numbers that were located next door. Lets say his address was 100 Main St. I would type in 101 Main St. and find the persons number. The one fact he cant hide is where they’re being shipped so you know someone there was participating (knowingly or unknowingly). I basically told the guys on the other end we sell items online and a scammer was using a neighbors address for potential fraud. This way they wouldn’t feel like we were attacking their weekend BBQ buddy, but enough to get in the door and find out a little bit more information. They told me he worked at home and was a “nice man”. I politely asked for his phone number so I could let him know what’s going on and the handed it over like stealing candy from a baby.

Calling this guy was a trip. At first we left a few messages and he actually called us back first. The message told him the same thing, that his house was being used for a scam. When he called back he played dumb and said he just got off of work …but his neighbors said he was home and the car was outside. Later, I told him what I found out from his neighbor that he worked from hom and had been at home during business hours that day. I could feel the nervousness in him now. That line was like McKoy on Law & Order tripping up a weak defendant on the stand to prove their own guilt. He was quick to get off the phone and finally hung up on me saying he was clueless.

Calling ebay and payal did not work AT ALL! After two hours on the phone with both, they didn’t seem to really have the means of reacting out of the training manual for a time sensitive issues. Eventually they told us they had some more info that might help about their location etc but couldn’t tell anyone but law enforcement or fraud division that they recognized.

The next best thing was to call fedex. I asked if we could get them held and they said yes but preferred to put me in touch with the recipients local fraud department and they were the key to getting the items back. Luckily, the guy there was pretty dedicated to his job and knew about the scam from a previous “case”. Now we had the guys if he could stop fedex. He was able to get some information from talking with ebay and he literally was planning a sting for the Fedex guy to deliver and after he signed have proof he had committed a crime and search warrant his house. That was the plan for the next day but before then he knocked on the front door and when he couldn’t get a hold of anyone he left his business card in the door.

By this time the scammer actually called us back again telling us how sorry he was and he didn’t know what he was doing and he’ll send the packages back to us the next day. Kind off because 2 hours earlier I offered him $500 to return the packages and he didn’t even sound interested when he wasn’t even accused yet. Fedex also got our page and we figured we would ask them to go back to the house for a “pick-up” and told the driver to ask for the packages he delivered earlier in the day back. He had to be sweating hard after his neighbor called him and said some random person called them accusing their loving neighbor as a scammer. When Fedex drove by, he was probably so shook he just decided to hand all the packages back over. Everything came back and we were saved (minus some overnight charges) and the local detective was trying to build a case against him. Apparently, it wasn’t the first time this had happened at the location.

If they were caught a few hours later everyone we called would’ve been closed and he the items would be gone but thinking fast and catching some people who wanted to take this kind of thing down saved a bunch of money. The scam is pretty big so catching them all is impossible but at least this one was taught a lesson.