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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 257 - February 12, 2002 - ISSN 1539-5065    1 of 3

Warning to eBay Users: Beware Fraudulent Emails!

By David Steiner
February 12, 2002

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A recent rash of fraudulent emails targeted at eBay users could pose a threat to the security of their eBay accounts. Some eBay users reported that they recently received emails with the subject line "Reinstatement consideration....Please update your information!" According to the body of the email, the user's eBay information is "marked (flagged) as incorrect and/or (fraudulent)." The email then instructs the recipient to update their eBay billing file by clicking on a URL that points to a fake eBay site.

The URL points to an IP number that has a bogus verification page. Although the page looks like it's part of the eBay Site, and asks for personal information including a credit card number, the fraudulent page is, in fact, set up on a Web Hosting service called Alabanza.com. To help make the page look authentic, links on the bogus page point to legitimate eBay pages.

After AuctionBytes contacted the Maryland-based Web hosting service, the page was taken down. Alabanza.com hosts over 400,000 Sites, and, according to Alabanza.com spokesperson Tom Cunningham, there are systems in place that allow the service to catch most types of illegal activity. But because of the way this page was set up, it could not be automatically detected.

When asked if Alabanza.com cooperates with the authorities in these types of cases, Cunningham said, "It depends on the offense. We have an ongoing relationship with the FBI. There was also a similar thing going on at our Site involving AOL and Bank of America, and we think it's the same guy."

According to eBay spokesperson Kevin Pursglove, this is similar to bogus emails that have been circulating over the past year and a half. "eBay is never going to ask a user to post confidential information like a credit card number in an email," stated Pursglove, "and eBay would never direct a user to a page that displays an IP address (numbers) rather than the eBay domain name."

The government Web site for information about identity theft http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft) warns that similar scams occur with messages supposedly from the users' Internet Service Providers.

Never enter information on a page that does not show its domain name in the address bar. If you receive any suspicious email, you should send it, along with full headers to safeharbor@ebay.com.

About the author:

David Steiner is President of Steiner Associates LLC, publisher of EcommerceBytes.com and the EveryPlaceISell.com merchant directory. David, a former television producer, handles business development and advertising for EcommerceBytes. You can reach him at dsteiner@ecommercebytes.com

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