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Sun June 1 2008 00:00:04

Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme

By: Ina Steiner

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I received a flurry of email from readers on Saturday evening about two different cases of feedback abuse. The letters indicate sellers are extremely concerned over buyer behavior resulting from eBay's new feedback rule that prevent sellers from leaving buyers anything but positive feedback.

The first case is a seller who says she received two undeserved negative feedback ratings from a buyer who is allegedly taking aim at certain sellers on her hit list. Readers say she had indicated her intention to punish sellers in postings on the Feedback board, saying it was "now buyers turn to deal with sellers."

The other case involves a feedback extortion ring that looks like an eBay version of the Sopranos. An eBay seller posting on the eBay discussion boards published correspondence he said he received from the winner of one of his auctions. The buyer reportedly said he and four other eBay users "are in the business of selling Positive Feedbacks to eBay Sellers for $20 each, totaling $100 for 5 Positive Feedbacks. If you purchase the 5 Positive Feedbacks for $100, you not only get to sell your items, you also receive 5 Positive Feedbacks. As you well know, Feedback is EVERYTHING to an eBay seller on whether they are successful or not. I'm sure that you want to remain successful in your eBay business. Plus, along with the 5 Positive Feedbacks, we will also Guarantee Never to contact you again and we take you off of our list."

Whether the stories are true or not is almost beside the point. Some sellers are clearly worried they will face such threats. And despite a recent eBay Chatter blog post from Griff about eBay being proactive about abusive buyers, clearly even the thought of such threats are rattling sellers' confidence. As one person posted on the discussion board, "Many sellers are now even afraid to file UID's, much less report buyer extortion, for fear of getting negged and possibly getting suspended. For those who's main source of income is Ebay, I'm sure it would be very frightening."

 




Comments (116) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme   Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme

by: Patricia

Sun Jun 1 00:38:08 2008

Its probably true - like the Nigerian scam is also true.  Ebay left sellers powerless and I hope they see the huge error they are making - sellers see it and one by one they are determining whether they can sell under such stress or not.  I'm betting most will head for other sites - taking their buyers with them and MAKE other sites successful.  It was suggested that the poster on Seller Central report the matter to FBI's online fraud division.  I'm hoping they do so.  Ebay needs to face the music.  Ebay is making a grand mess and treating innocent people like criminals and forcing them to put up with ridiculous policies or leave.  Its downright nasty and they deserve to be taken down more then a few pegs for the nightmare they're causing.  There were legitimate ways to handle both bad sellers AND bad buyers.  Ebay simply didn't want to spend the money and manpower to do it right!  For the last time Ebay - you can't try to emulate Amazon by these automatic means - you'll fail and there may be no turning back!


www.ACEOart.net

Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme   Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme

by: bite me

Sun Jun 1 00:52:09 2008

All the scared sellers should make a website where they post the id of anyone who's ever left a neg. They can then download a huge block list and quit crying about policy.

Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme   Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme

by: Is eBay in cohoots?

Sun Jun 1 01:00:57 2008

eBay pulled the thread within the last 5 minutes.

Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme   Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme

by: boobadinkle

Sun Jun 1 01:22:12 2008

Yep, the thread is gone. Makes one wonder, especially with San Jose being mentioned.

Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme   Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme

by: eIO

Sun Jun 1 01:24:27 2008

Surprise, surprise....the thread about this ring of feedback blackmailers has gone POOF from the eBay discussion boards.

What a joke that place has become. Rather than protect sellers, they're dusting it under the rug. SHAME ON YOU EBAY!

Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme   Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme

by: mamacita

Sun Jun 1 01:25:02 2008

I'm a Power Seller, I've been on eBay for five years, with 100% positive feedback, over 2000 transactions. I have never given a buyer ANY reason to leave me a negative feedback.

On May 19th, I closed my eBay store and moved on. The stress level was getting to be too much. It's bad enough having to worry about my star rating... but this new feedback policy is outrageous.

I have worked for five long years on eBay. Now, any newbie can register, bid on my auctions, and essentially ruin my reputation on a whim. I cannot pick and choose who buys from me. I cannot file a UPI for fear of feedback retaliation. eBay customer service is basically non-existent, so why would I trust them to remove any unwarranted feedback?

The prevailing attitude on ebay these days is negative. Buyers are reminded, when leaving feedback, that sellers can no longer leave negative feedback for them so they need to be honest in their feedback. This is practically INVITING buyers to leave any sort of petty, trivial negative comments.

Anybody with an email address can get an accout on eBay. eBay allows this so it can falsely inflate its user numbers. There is no regulation about user ID's. Any scam artist or shady type is welcomed to eBay with open arms, and honest hardworking sellers will be paying the price.

I am through with eBay. They let shillers and scam artists flourish, and then they hobble the honest people.

Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme   Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme

by: nancy

Sun Jun 1 01:30:12 2008

Thanks Ina, you're a light in the darkness of ebay's chaos as always.

I suspect the thread was pulled because some poster reported it, there are a lot of those types of posters who will do it because they disagree with others, that's how childish it can become there.

But this threat, intended to be carried out or not is not a joke, and there are other sellers who got the same letter posting on the PS boards as well.  

Ebay has created the perfect storm against sellers and there are blogs and websites telling people how to rip off sellers.  

Did ebay really think their wrong headed policies wouldn't create problems?

Perhaps they don't care.

Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme   Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme

by: Patricia

Sun Jun 1 01:33:30 2008

mamacita - I so agree with you.  I let my last two auctions end tonight and I'm not listing anytime soon.  This, after 10 long years of continuous selling on ebay.

I agree with this:  

"Anybody with an email address can get an accout on eBay. eBay allows this so it can falsely inflate its user numbers. There is no regulation about user ID's. Any scam artist or shady type is welcomed to eBay with open arms, and honest hardworking sellers will be paying the price."

I know that on Amazon I have a credit card on file for buying.  I don't think you can simply buy there without some kind of credit card backup in place.  Ebay, of course, does it for the money first and foremost - and then just maybe for the safety of the users!


www.ACEOart.net

Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme   Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme

by: TJL

Sun Jun 1 01:59:11 2008

eBay doesn't care. Buyer threats have been going on way before the new inequitable system. I literally mailed eBay two copies of profanity-laced voice mails of a buyer stating that if I did not leave positive feedback then he and his network of friends and family would ruin me on eBay. I got no response and he is still is happily ensconced on eBay today. I, a power seller of six years, am not. And to all the sellers that are still selling--wake up. The boycott and mass exodus started months ago.

Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme   Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme

by: Jim

Sun Jun 1 02:26:14 2008

So, where is everyone suggest moving to? I haven't found one that seems worthwhile. Prices in a lot of areas on eBay were getting bad, but it seems worse on other sites. Maybe I'm not looking in the right place.
Suggestions?

Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme   Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme

by: Jay

Sun Jun 1 02:26:27 2008

I had two buyers wait until they thought they could get away with leaving a neg and not get one back after they filed claims saying they did not receive merchandise, thank goodness that 1) I started shipping delivery confirmation weeks before the change and 2) they jumped the start of eBay's mess. I thought it was fixed, but the bad got worse, PayPal now holds all my payments from buyers, tells me to ship anyways; offers to release hold when delivery is confirmed, but their website does not allow for the entry of tracking information, links just loop back to order details. Several calls to PayPal and they just say they know about the problem, and suggest to just contact my buyer and ask for positive feedback. So I figured I could just remove PayPal as the default payment option and use my merchant account to receive payments, Nope. eBay has made it practically impossible to list an item without PayPal being a choice, forget using a mass listing loader as well. It would not be doubtful that PayPal being the default payment option is part of their “best match” qualifying requirements.

I had thought I would be able to ride out the storm eBay has created, but more and more I’m being convinced that along with the lowered exposure for the cost, increased restrictions, rules, and self destructive management, the quality of buyers on eBay and those it will now attract are lower and will only get worse. It seems that as many sellers before have done, the best option is to move my merchandise and service elsewhere as a seller now, protecting my hard earned feedback score.

I have three predictions about eBay. 1) The quality of products and services will erode as more and more sellers are burned and like myself decided to leave 2) True quality buyers will look elsewhere for products 3) eBay will be swallowed up by a competitor in the near future as its value evaporates, the damage will be done and it will never be like it was.

As a last thought the first thing I did when I heard about these changes was buy a share of eBay, I figured that if every seller and buyer bought a share of eBay decisions about how it functions would be up to its users, one vote at a time. Maybe there is still hope, if not at least I look forward to the take over and maybe a bit of profit from the scraps of another .com failure.

Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme   Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme

by: beachy

Sun Jun 1 02:26:28 2008

looks like ebay has created a new scam & it has donahoe's blessing.

had my first buyer try to shake me down this week over a lousy $20.00 paypal purchase she made a month ago.  it was definitely a case of give me what i want (free merchandise) or i'll leave you negative feedback.  

the only thing this buyer will get is an invitation to the florida court system should she leave me a negative because her emails were nothing less than extortion!

Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme   Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme

by: Misty

Sun Jun 1 02:56:33 2008

Could this be yet another?

[Quote from seller] I won a dispute earlier today and the case was closed. The buyer then emails me and bids on my auctions (to leave retaliatory neg). I reported him and everything but heres where I need help on.

I got logged out of my email account for some reason and couldn’t log back in. Same for eBay. The guy said this in one of his emails right before this happened: “Here at the UW studying computer science, you don’t think I have your IP I laugh in the face of foolishness. hey let me say you send me one more email I will attach it to my IC3 plus IP’s are so easy to find these days, not to mention I have your actual name address ect…. <= thats for report”

Now, in PayPal, the case is under review again and says that I, the seller, appealed the decision… EVEN THOUGH I WON! I did NOT do anything in PayPal. What is going on?

http://forums.ebay.com/db2/thread.jspa?threadID=1000711335&
tstart=0&mod=1212302002692

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Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme   Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme

by: Misty

Sun Jun 1 02:58:06 2008

Wow not sure what happened there sorry Ina you can clean it up if you like.

Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme   Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme

by: Geejay

Sun Jun 1 03:06:38 2008

As a regular buyer with eBay, I recently informed them that I no longer wished to deal with them because of their policy of "Paypal only" in Australia (due in mid June). I just hope the ACCC over here pulls the pin on this monopoly decision by eBay. Power currupts, absolute power.....

Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme   Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme

by: tj

Sun Jun 1 03:16:37 2008

eBay have created a monster with this totally ridicules FB change…how totally dumb to think this would work.

Bite Me …are you on some medication??...5,000 blocked bidders is the max…that’s not 500,000, there are websites already overloaded with member names of default bad bidders.

eBay you are self destructing…are your management so totally screwed up they can’t see it???...Guess they are

Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme   Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme

by: ebay buyer

Sun Jun 1 03:51:36 2008

I am a professional buyer averaging a thousnd spent per week. Every time I purchase from a seller, I intend to forward the extortoin email to them so that they are aware of the problem.  Hopefully, they will pass it along to every eBay contact they have as well.  Word needs to get out on this.  I recommend every seller and buyer do the same.  Do it as part of your buying and selling as a 'fyi'.  

Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme   Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme

by: EH

Sun Jun 1 03:53:59 2008

Hope the eBay employees who covered up a potential Federal crime have good lawyers.

FBI: Extortion
http://search.fbi.gov/search?site=my_collection&output=xm
l_no_dtd&client=my_collection&proxystylesheet=my_collection&q=extortion&submit22.x=0&submit22.y=0


FBI
- Just Say No... To Cyber Extortion
http://www.fbi.gov/pressrel/pressrel07/extortion_threats0
83007.htm

''So
where do you go to report such a cyber attack ... or, for that matter, any cyber crime? Call your local FBI field office. Or contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center (I3C), run jointly by the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center. Depending on the nature of your complaint, the I3C will refer it to the appropriate FBI office or government agency for action.''


http://www.ic3.gov/
The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).

Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme   Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme

by: bonni

Sun Jun 1 04:59:56 2008

I was an eBay PowerSeller (on eBay Australia). I stopped selling in 2006, after the announcement of the big fee hike and simultaneous hiding of stores. I closed my store and was considering my options, not knowing if I would go back to eBay to sell or not (I kind of thought I might list a few items), but I knew for sure then that eBay was NOT a stable platform and NOT a trustworthy business partner.

All I can say is that I'm extremely glad that I stopped selling then (even though I now have a 0% rating on feedback, because it's only calculated for a year and as I haven't gotten any FB for over a year...). I would hate to have changed my business plan and plugged on with eBay only to have to face this now.

I said, back in 2006, that eBay was going to continue to implement changes that would be worse and worse for sellers. I was openly ridiculed by certain eBay die-hard cheerleaders. I wonder how happy those people are about these changes...

Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme   Sopranos Meets eBay in Feedback Extortion Scheme

by: dakota

Sun Jun 1 05:41:24 2008

Here is is. I copied it off eBay Ink in case some have not seen it:

The text copied below was posted on Seller Central this afternoon under the title “Sellers, I just got the following email:“. It is allegedly an email he/she received from an auction winner.

There is also a thread on the Power Seller board about sellers receiving this email or a similar one from auction winners. The title of the thread is “Received Any Feedback Extortion Emails?? I Did”

One Power Seller responded to the thread with this:

I’ve been dealing with one for 2 weeks. Still going back and forth with T & S trying to get the jack**s thrown off.

I broke down the one block text email as it was posted into paragraphs for easier reading.

~~~~~~

Listen very carefully. I am the winner of this item. I have 4 other eBay Users in place either bidding on or have won items from you plus myself totaling 5.

We are prepared to leave you 5 Positive Feedbacks or 5 Negative Feedbacks depending on your actions. In a nutshell, we are in the business of selling Positive Feedbacks to eBay Sellers for $20 each, totaling $100 for 5 Positive Feedbacks.

If you purchase the 5 Positive Feedbacks for $100, you not only get to sell your items, you also receive 5 Positive Feedbacks. As you well know, Feedback is EVERYTHING to an eBay seller on whether they are successful or not.

I’m sure that you want to remain successful in your eBay business. Plus, along with the 5 Positive Feedbacks, we will also Guarantee Never to contact you again and we take you off of our list. You’ll even get a receipt for your purchase.

Now, here’s the important part.

If you refuse to purchase the 5 Positive Feedbacks, we will leave you 5 Negative Feedbacks for starters. We have 100’s & 100’s of eBay Users in place that we can use to leave feedbacks. In fact, we have enough to consistently leave you Negative Feedbacks for months resulting in you having to shut down your business.

The absolute worst thing that you can do at this point is to try and contact eBay at any time about this or refuse to cooperate; we Will start leaving you Negative Feedbacks and shut your business down.

Make no mistake, we’ve been doing this for years and have the power & resources to continually leave you Negative Feedbacks resulting in the closing of your business.

Think about this, if you try to report us to eBay and they try and suspend our account or something like that, it will not stop us whatsoever. Remember, I said we have 100’s if not 1,000’s of eBay Users in place that we can use to leave you Negative Feedbacks over & over again until you are forced to shut your business down that you worked so hard to build up.

Even if eBay were to keep suspending our user accounts, we have plenty more that we can use to keep leaving you Negative Feedbacks and there’s No way that eBay can keep up and stop us. They have tried & failed miserably. They also know about what we do. So the best and smartest thing that you can do is protect your business and just purchase the 5 Positive Feedbacks from us. That way, it’s done and over with and you can successfully continue to run your business without ever hearing from us again.

We will give you up to 72 hours from now, to reply. The sooner, the better of course. Just send us an email stating that you want to purchase the 5 Positive Feedbacks from us and let us know your main email that you use so we can contact you.

If we don’t hear from you by the end of the 72 hours, we will assume that you are refusing to cooperate and we will start leaving you Negative Feedbacks. So don’t do anything stupid. The smartest thing that you can do is take this seriously, we know what we’re doing. After we hear your reply to this email, we will contact you with further instructions.

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