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Tue May 5 2015 15:51:15

How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit Fraud

By: Reader

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Dear Ina,
Very often we users on this site are familiarized with buyer abuse and fraud, but there is an ever growing threat from seller fraud particularly on high priced items. eBay and PayPal often do well with siding for buyers, as we all know, but there is a new threat that neither are prepared for.

Our company is a bulk purchaser on eBay of used consumer electronics so we have experienced just about every type of seller fraud there is, and the latest is very difficult to overcome unless you are aware of the tools:

As most of us know, if a seller sends a purchased package with USPS tracking less than $750.00 and tracking shows a delivery in the buyer's zip code, eBay and PayPal both consider that a delivered package even if the buyer claims it was not received.

However, what if a fraudulent seller who is savvy to the rules, locates a random address in the buyer's registered address zip code, ie: a library, a hotel, a fire dept or any number of easily obtained addresses; then ships an empty package with tracking there.

Well I will tell you what happens, the buyer does not receive it, tries to open an eBay Item Not Received Case or PayPal Resolution's Case, and both of which will be found in the seller's favor and the buyer WILL LOSE THEIR MONEY. What's worse is a Credit Card Company will also likely deny the claim

The only way to combat this is difficult for a buyer. If you believe you are victim of this scam, visit your local PO through which the item passed, bring your tracking number, and ask for an actual scanned image of the parcel and shipping label. They will be able to provide it and it could show a different address than yours with the uploaded tracking number. 

It is best if possible to have USPS email it to you so the email shows a USPS email address. You can then provide this information to PayPal or eBay, and the case or appeal will be granted to the buyer.

So what is PayPal and eBay doing about this? Not much yet, but the technology is there now from USPS and hopefully they will cooperate together to make this information more easily obtainable to combat seller fraud.
I.

Comments (44) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

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by: forrosebud This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 7 01:51:30 2015

If you have gotten seriously screwed over by Ebay, Pay Pal, a seller or a buyer MORE THAN 3 TIMES per quarter per year... I think you need to seriously consider doing business ELSEWHERE.

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by: brentandbecca This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 7 01:54:12 2015

I agree. This can not work. eBay and PayPal KNOW the exact address you mail it to when you print the label. IF you use another source to print the label then yes you could change the address. BUT the zip code has 9 digits so that would show mismatch; further more all labels have the carrier codes printed on them now to know where each is to be sorted and which carrier takes them AND the barcode and QR box has the address details, so while tracking just shows the zip delivered, if you call the post office they can give you further info. I have had to do this twice before and they were able to get me info to supply to ebay and paypal.  I am not saying folks don't try this like once in ablue moon, but to get away with it would be very difficult.

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by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 7 02:33:32 2015

This all seems pretty farfetched to me.  

Shipping a package to another address to do fake tracking?  Really?  Why in the world would anyone do that again?  Why wouldn't anyone selling items on ebay just have the item in hand, list it, ship it properly and make money?  

All that stuff about fake addresses, boxes of rocks, gee whiz.  

That all seems so unnecessary. I imagine all these things do happen, but they have to be so rare as to be essentially an urban legend.  Or nearly.  

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by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 7 02:45:12 2015

@brentandbecca----Where do you get these notions--I am lucky I can even READ half the address' provided TO ebay /Paypal BY the buyers themselves!

Half the time they have the address screwed up-=--forgot the part for "Street;  Road; Lane" etc;  forgot the ZIP+4--I almost NEVER see that---they mis=spell their OWN ADDRESS;  they have the WRONG address;  they have at times had the wrong NAMES. They MOVE and forget to change their preferences.

So=--=-this scam CAN work with a little elbow grease as mentioned above.  The USPS is on the low side of tech and we are lucky IF they scan at all-=-and things have been known to evade the scanners for WEEKS if not longer;  I had one circle the drain recently for OVER a month;  another one went for 3 plus WEEKS from PO to sort center to PO to stuck on some truck to a different sort center to another PO---The PO was "raided"  recently and THOUSANDS of packages in some sort area were found to have been OPENED; esp. FIRST CLASS LETTERS--the colorful birthday etc CARD envelopes with the oh so tempting GIFT CARDS enclosed---other packages and even EXPRESS MAIL was found there.  

It's all fine n good to SAY that this is MAIL FRAUD--and it IS==but the PO actually has to DO something about this--and they WON'T.  And ebay?  Don't make me LAUGH.

I JUST had --this week --a fellow claim that his item did not get delivered---I HAD Delivery Confirm AND the PO site and ebay both showed it as DELIVERED--the PO site showed it as delivered TO HIS MAILBOX.  I won--but I had to spend an HOUR of my one wild and precious  life ON THE PHONE arguing over this.  

When I get a delivery from UPS on the other hand--I have an EMAIL ALERT set up thru them and get heads up from the instant the order is generated til it is delivered.  

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by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 7 06:36:17 2015

I wonder why sellers would go to those lengths?  And if the product is more than $500 why wouldn't the seller ship it with signature confirmation and/or the buyer DEMAND that it be shipped via UPS, FEDEX or signature confirmation.  Anything over $500 needs a special type of shipping, not just a tracking number.

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by: tradernick This user has validated their user name.
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Thu May 7 08:04:48 2015

To me, this comes down to practicing a little common sense, and knowing your seller.  Would you purchase a $750 item from a seller whose feedback score is very low? I would not.  So when considering buying from a seller READ their feedback, don't just look at the number.  ASK about their return policy if it's not clearly stated.  Especially if you're buying a high value item it pays to communicate with the seller beforehand.  Find out things like...do they have a store location?  Store owners are often more reliable than people who work out of a briefcase.  Can they speak intelligently about the product they're selling?  
A little diligence can go a long way.
I disagree with a lot of what the OP stated.  I doubt this scam works anymore, as it's an old one.  The OP says ebay/paypal ''does well'' by usually siding with the buyer.  Well, I won't even go there.  
I'm pretty sure visa/mc will allow you to dispute in this scenario, and just for the record ebay can and will side with the buyer even if the package was signed for.  
If you're careful and exercise caution ebay can be a great place to buy and sell.....you just have to jump through the hoops they set up and take your occasional lumps.  Sort of like the rest of life, eh?
 

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by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
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Thu May 7 09:59:54 2015

I just can't understand wwhy these scammer geniuses don't put their brains to work to help people or to run a legitimate business instead of scamming people.

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by: a_c_green This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 7 10:48:15 2015

To clarify a number of points in no particular order:

The scam on topic here is a bad seller providing fake Delivery Confirmation in order to keep the funds for the sale of a non-existent item. We're not talking about other scams, and not those of buyers ripping off sellers.

Signature Confirmation is now only required by eBay or PayPal on sales of $750 or more. The old limit of $250 was raised some time ago.

A key point: On-line Delivery Confirmation only states the buyer's 5-digit ZIP (and City); it does not state a 9-digit ZIP. Here is an example of their wording as of yesterday:

> Delivered, In/At Mailbox METAIRIE, LA 70001 May 4, 2015 12:22 pm

Thus, if I wanted to rip off the buyer in Metairie, I would simply find some other address in 70001 to ship something to with tracking. It would be up to the buyer to appeal the Item Not Received dispute that he would lose.

No one is saying that this is a hugely prevalent scam. However, there are lot of high-value targets that can be scammed without hitting the $750 purchase limit that would trigger Signature Confirmation requirements.

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by: Baby Gurl This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 7 10:49:21 2015

TO those of you that are saying the OP is wrong - you are wrong. This happened twice to my husband in April purchasing 2 separate items from 2 different sellers on ebay. The scam works like this: the seller uploads a tracking number (not printed from ebay shipping). However, they have googled (I suppose) a random address for someone else in your zip code. They send an empty envelope with tracking on it to the other address in your zip code. We do live in a small town and our Post Office worked with us to tell us exactly what addresses these empty packages were sent to and even retrieved one of them for my husband.

I have to tell you that ebay was not supporting the ebay money back guarantee. It took a lot of proof, pictures of the empty envelope addressed to someone else in our zip code, and much haggling with various people to get my husband's money back. This is true and it is happening

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by: Baby Gurl This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 7 10:54:25 2015

More info I will add - ebay cannot see from tracking on their own site or usps.com site the physical address of which the package is delivered. They can only see that it has been delivered such as "delivered to mailbox", etc. Well, this can be the mailbox of the wrong address that the package was originally sent to. Our post office had further ways of finding out exactly what address the package went to. Again, we are in a small town. If we lived in a large city, we may not have had this help.  

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by: Baby Gurl This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 7 10:55:55 2015

Without the help of our post office, my husband would not have received his money back. He buys a lot of stuff on ebay and this has really made him question each purchase now

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by: Baby Gurl This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 7 11:03:01 2015

Oh and finally and I will shut up! Both of these sellers are still selling on ebay despite the fraud. They both have no positive feedback. They only have negatives, but they have not been removed as users.

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This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Thu May 7 11:11:06 2015

As an eBay seller myself this type of scam never crossed my mind.

I thought eBay had problems with bad buyers not bad sellers.

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by: Baby Gurl This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 7 11:14:25 2015

At the time my husband made the 2 purchases, both sellers had zero feedback. So .... I asked him why he had bought from zero feedback people?? He said he has lots of times over the years and never had a problem. Well, that has now changed

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by: Baby Gurl This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 7 11:15:47 2015

To some of you readers and posters, we should never blame the victim, should we? It is the person who did the fraud we should blame. Unfortunately, I do blame ebay for not being more pro-active with this. Maybe

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Thu May 7 11:54:12 2015

Thank you to the various people who pointed out that the limit for Signature Confirmation has been upped to $750. Since they must know that fraud is rampant on eBay, it is somewhat troubling that they would make this change. I rarely sell an item valued in excess of $100, but I'm going keep $250 as my personal threshold for Signature Confirmation. There are just too many "liar buyers" on the internet looking for free stuff.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Thu May 7 12:06:44 2015

I get signature confirmation on all items over $150

I scared of porch thieves.

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by: RichieC This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 7 13:07:15 2015

I am sorry this post was even allowed! As I see a lot of people that do not understand how tracking works.

First understand that every label that is printed, all information is recorded and maintained. So the example provided by the OP would be handled as mail fraud. The fraudulent attempt of this seller would be caught quickly my the USPS, or any other mail service. If the buyer would contact their server.

Again, Sellers of any character would not do anything so low. So stick with Sellers with hundreds, if not thousands of feedback! Also, with a very positive rating, though 98.?? is acceptable. Depending on volume, items and reason for negative/neutral feedback, will help make your choice to buy from them! I would never spend big money on a low/No rated seller??? Hello!!

Also, you would not believe the number of FleaBay courtesy refunds given for "item not received" even though tracking showed the package delivered! This non-business person asked me once, "Why do you care, FleaBay refunded them not you!" I explained, every time FleaBay gives a courtesy refund, where do you think they get that money? From their "CUSTOMER," The Seller, ME!!! My costs go up and my profit decreases. But the board at FleaBay just scammed more money for themselves, again! So you tell me about the terrible Seller, buyer!  

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by: Baubles This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 7 18:12:27 2015

If someone wants to commit fraud, there is always a way.

I bought an item from a casual seller once. He portrayed his items as coming from his personal 'stuff' and was selling to raise cash to pay bills.  

I bought something and after 2 weeks the item still hadn't arrived.  The item showed a tracking number but no indication the item ever entered into the mail system.  

I never received a package, and the seller never responded to my inquiries.

I opened a claim with ebay and got my money back.

I was lucky.  The seller started to received a bunch of negative feedback stating the seller was sending out empty packages.  I'm not sure what happened to the other buyers, and if ebay reimbursed them, but there were a lot of angry feedback comments about contacting the police, etc.

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by: BackInBlack This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 7 23:46:48 2015

@Steevo>"All that stuff about fake addresses, boxes of rocks, gee whiz... I imagine all these things do happen, but they have to be so rare as to be essentially an urban legend.  Or nearly.

Wow.  I think almost every seller of any volume who has been around a few years (especially *recent* ones) has had the 'box of rock' scam pulled on them at least once.  I remember maybe two years ago, it even finally happened to GRIFF (of eBay Radio), who was giving the blow-by-blow on the radio show.  I don't recall if I ever heard how it was resolved.  He *of course* had full faith and trust in eBay to do what was right, and in his case, it was probably resolved to his satisfaction... not so much a matter of know-HOW, but rather the old know-WHO.


@toolguy>"I thought eBay had problems with bad buyers not bad sellers."

Yep, that's what *many* of the sellers on *this* forum seem to think... All sellers are good and always right, eBay is out to get them, and buyers (their customers) are all scum.

I both buy and sell, and lemme tell ya... even though I greatly minimize issues through careful feedback evaluation, I still run into a couple or three sellers per year who are big stinkers, and I remember them all.  In all of these cases, eBay Buyer Protection has worked as it should.  I've been very, very lucky as a seller and have never been scammed, *so far.*  But with all the scamming going on, I've cut way back on selling.

@Baby Gurl>"...both sellers had zero feedback. So .... I asked him why he had bought from zero feedback people??"

Well, we all started out with zero feedback and I'd still like to think *most* people are honest.  OTOH, the *only* time I've ever been flat-out ripped off on eBay was by 'giving a chance' to a zero or single-digit feedback seller.  It was years ago, with no real Buyer Protection and even before PayPal.  I sent a check for a $50 computer part, seller cashed my check (or his *mom* ran it through her account!), and that was the end of the story... Safe Harbor's only help was, "Here's a USPS Postal Fraud form to fill out... good luck!"  As a buyer, I'm glad *those* days are over, but the main take-away from that story, both then and now, is what @RichieC said about evaluating feedback and only going with stable sellers who have good feedback.

@LasVagueness- What, exactly, do you look for on Zillow?  I live in a house in the 'good' part of town, yet that doesn't stop the people from the 'bad' part from driving over here to steal stuff off porches (or break into your house, even if you're home).

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