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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 992 - April 08, 2005 - ISSN 1539-5065    1 of 6

Scammers Target eBay Sellers Using Email Feature

By Ina Steiner
April 08, 2005

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eBay users have long suffered scam attacks by fraudsters. One of the scams making the rounds takes advantage of eBay's "Ask Seller a Question" feature that allows potential bidders to query sellers through eBay's email system. But rather than asking a question about the item for sale, the scammer posts an advertisement for a partner to help it process PayPal payments.

One such post reads, "Q: We are looking for a partner (person or organization) in your city to represent our firm and accept payments on our behalf for a reward of certain percentage of sales amount. Payments will be paid for our goods from US customers in form of paypal payment, certified check or MO. It is not needed to spend personal funds to begin, all relations will be governed by the contract agreement. Further info is available on request. Please get back to us asap."

We began writing about the "help wanted" scam in 2003, including one in which scammers posted these ads on job sites (http://www.auctionbytes.com/pages/abn/y03/m01/i29/s01 and http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abu/y203/m05/abu0094/s04). PayPal prohibits users from using their PayPal accounts to collect and transfer money for someone else. "This type of activity is often conducted as a form of money laundering. Money laundering is a state and federal crime which often results in significant criminal penalties."

Phishing emails are old, but they continue to plague eBay users with new twists, including ones sent to look like they come from eBay inviting the seller to become a PowerSeller or to participate in contests.

Another scam to watch out for is one that takes advantage of users desire to protect themselves from identity theft. One eBay seller reported receiving a hoax email that started off, "Daily Monitoring of your visa credit card and debit is the only way to protect potential identity theft in progress. After so much identity theft in progress towards the Visa Institution we are proud to present the new Anti-Theft service called (Verified by Visa)."

It's not only eBay users who are targeted by fraudsters, so be alert to scams from any company, organization or financial institution.

AuctionBytes Fraud Resources

Online Fraud Forum

Online Fraud Resource Center

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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