eBay bid leaves Gordon over £3K out of pocket
As the value of our transactions increase on online auction and classifieds sites, the greater the risk of fraud, as Gordon discovered when he tried to buy a tractor on eBay.
Gordon (not his real name), 51, is a Company Director in Midlothian, Scotland. He is married and has two children. Gordon had been looking for a compact tractor to help manage his extensive garden, and one to which he could add a snowplough for the winter months.
He says: “I had been searching for some considerable time to find a compact tractor, using mainly eBay and other vehicle and farm machinery websites. eBay seemed best, however, as it had a good throughput of appropriate machines. Eventually the particular model I had been looking for turned up at the right price.
“The description was excellent, detailed and seemed straightforward. And the extensive range of photos showed me all I wanted to see. The seller, however, had a Zero feedback score so I contacted them through eBay to check them out and ask a couple of questions about delivery.
As they responded just a couple of hours before bidding closed, I had no chance to develop the conversation. Their answers seemed genuine enough, so I bid my limit -£3250 - on the tractor. I lost the auction by a couple of hundred pounds.”
“The next evening, I got another email through eBay messages saying the winner of the auction couldn’t complete for a month or so, so would I like to purchase the tractor for my original offer? I replied saying ‘Great. But how do we do the money transfer, as PayPal specifically doesn’t cover vehicles.’ They responded saying ‘Don’t worry, we’ll get back in touch as there’s an Escrow product from eBay designed to resolve just this issue.’”
“Three hours later I was emailed at my own account with what turned out to be a fraudulent email from eBay Trust and Safety. It confirmed that the seller had placed £5000 in Escrow which would only be released once I had paid for and was happy with the goods received.
It was an immaculate fake with working links and I, psychologically primed to buy after having thought I had lost the tractor, fell for it and twenty-four hours later transferred £3250 to the seller’s account. I chased them for two days for delivery confirmation before getting an email from the real eBay saying ‘They’re a suspicious seller – don’t send them any money’. At that point I knew I’d been scammed and went to the police.”
“I lost both the money and the use of the non-existent tractor! I felt extremely foolish, as well as angry that people could expend so much obvious talent and energy in trying to defraud rather than building something positive.”
Gordon's story highlights the huge issue of trust online we now face. The anonymous nature of the web fosters frauders such as those in this story and unfortunately, allows them to get away with their crimes.
This is one area we see miiCard playing a key role, by proving real identities to the same level, and with the same traceability, as a passport or driver's licence, purely online. We see miiCard being used between individuals on auction and classifieds sites for that extra level of protection and a safe online shopping experience.