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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 (41) | Permalink

Readers Comments

How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F   How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F

This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Tue May 5 16:04:38 2015

Thanks for the well-written letter. It's always smart to be on-guard for these types of things (and to know what to do if/when they happen).

This isn't the first time I've heard about this type of scam. I originally learned about this technique (of shipping to a random address in the same zip code) several years ago... only, back then it was a seller who was complaining that a dishonest buyer was using the scam to ''return'' merchandise.

At the time, it seemed to be a foolproof crime and there was no way to ascertain WHERE the (fake) package was actually delivered.

Ugh!

Are there similar loopholes and weaknesses from Fedex and UPS? Or is it only USPS that makes it easy for this type of thing to happen?

How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F   How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 5 16:23:21 2015

UPS & Fedex have a parcel count thatMUST match up to actual deliveries or attempts to deliver.

Being somewhat familiar with UPS, the loaders (of packages each morning before the truck leaves the depot) enter into the drivers computer all the info of each package and the number of packages in each shipment and the total number on the truck.

When the driver leaves for the day, the info is downloaded and everything must match up. There has to be either deliveries for each package OR the boxes must still be on the truck (also prevents driver theft).

Id imagine that Fedex does something similar.

As for USPS ... they are much slower in technology roll outs.

The OPs solution may work in smaller post offices, mine for example (11230- Midwood) in no way shape or form keeps box scans/pic or label pics - there are just too many parcels.

I cant say that my experience with 11230 is wha tit is all over - obviously its not since the OP was able to get that info - I just dont know how many PO keep/have access to this data.

How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F   How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F

by: ajeweler This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 5 16:29:05 2015

well written, both e**y and paypal require the item to be shipped to the registered address of the buyer, I have had in the past several times someone open not received and usps has been now for about 2 years carrying scanners, once delivered to the address on the package it is traceable to the delivery were it went. usps will and does take this very seriously, as it is mail fraud to claim you did not receive a package when indeed you did. it is under USC chapter 18 laws, and you are covered as a buyer. this is the first time I have heard of this happening to a buyer, great info thank you. lets hope that E**y does not let sellers sign up that do this. so far they seem to be getting rid of sellers so I do not think this will go on too long before they get shut down. in addition is that not e**y money back grantee is for??

How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F   How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Tue May 5 19:10:44 2015

Very sad that for so many people, being a scammer seems to be a way of life, and that they are always thinking up new ways to rip off people.

I do question why, if the package was valued at $750, why the seller wasn't required to get signature confirmation. Wouldn't the case be decided in favor of the buyer without signature confirmation on an order that size?

How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F   How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F

by: Postalwizard This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 5 20:25:21 2015

USPS carries the advantage of a private inspection service operated under the same laws that govern our currency and mail fraud is a Felony. With the Private Carriers it is only a misdemeanor.  In any case, Signature Confirmation or similar is the defacto proof of proper delivery.  Otherwise if the package disappears from the porch there is no substantiation that the package was ever received by recipient.  For Insurance purposes, a Signature is required even using less expensive private insurance

How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F   How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F

by: angryllama This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 6 05:58:14 2015

Could NOT be just some random address in the same Zip Code.  Each letter carrier has their own scanner and they scan packages AS they deliver into a mailbox OR to a front porch if too LARGE to fit the mailbox. ( My onw mailbox has only a LETTER slot about 1.5 inches by 10 inches so MANY packages won't fit. )  That means that the SCAN for "delivery" would have to be on THAT CARRIER's ROUTE and the time of "delivery" would have to shoe-horn BETWEEN the previous and successive Scanned Deliveries.  Comment about getting an IMAGE of the scanned package would be once it passed through ANY of the Regional Sorting Centers, not the originating or Delivering post office branch.  The example given was for a shipment valued UNDER $750 mailed WITHOUT requiring a "signature required" notation or FEE.  Having covered all that I certainly DO see how a scammer could generate a Professional Looking shipping label to those examples of WRONG addresses, CUT OUT the RIGHT address portion of the label and  GLUE that WRONG address portion right in place of the RIGHT one.  Easier still would be to Real World CUT and PASTE then PHOTOCOPY the resulting FAKE and glue the FAKED UP one to the box of rocks.  Another FLAW I see in this scenario is that the FAKED UP delivery address be it Library, Firestation, Motel... or such would have to FAIL to mark it Addressee Unknown and just drop it back into the RETURN STREAM of the postal service.  I don't see any ready way to make THAT happen on a "reliable basis".  If some package with some Nominal Value item enclosed hit MY OWN mailbox and upon opening I saw is was NEVER for me, I would have re-sealed and dropped it off at my nearby post office for return.  Had it been a BOX OF ROCKS LOTS of folks would have taken it to the post office and protested. EITHER of these responses would have Torpedo'd the Scammers "perfectly executed plan". Even though under $750 if the transaction were to have been OVER $500 that would have moved it into the Felony Theft category in just about every state regardless that USPS special circumstances would have done so, too.  I can TESTIFY that in Louisiana even a confession to theft of over $113,400 fell into the same "feloney theft" category as had it been for $500.01 .

How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F   How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Wed May 6 07:02:43 2015

I think that OP has just made a case for eBay requiring that all sellers use eBay / PayPal shipping.  Coming soon to a Seller Update near you.

I don't know that I have heard of even one case of abuse like this.  What I have noticed however is that since eBay is REQUIRING that sellers pay buyers' return shipping on returns that both returns and "item not as described" have skyrocketed. We've gotten very few returns over the years but since this was implemented we have seen an uptick.  We've won several of the cases (we are fighting back when we know that we are right) but it is like walking in a mine field.  I am keeping track of what this is costing us and I honestly don't think it is going to work for us.  

How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F   How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F

by: ajeweler This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 6 09:15:54 2015

most all the issues I have ever had with packages were buyers who claimed that they did not receive them when indeed the package was scanned or delivered by USPS once I open a complaint with postal inspector, the package mysteriously appeared by the wife, kids or neighbor , however still seller receives a DEFECT rating by e**y due to a case being opened, however not saying that it does no occur , the largest problem I think is that e**y has their name on packages when you use the printing label thru paypal or E**Y, I know most all posters do use stamps.com or other programs, I have even heard that some use marker or cut e**y off the label, I really believe this is a good thing because just think a package sitting in someone's mail box or porch , front steps Etc. with E**Y on the corner thieves know it is something ordered though against the law they still take them not knowing or just do not care, I do know for fact that USPS does and will take this as a Felony if it can be proven, but with E**Y on the label is a big NO NO.

How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F   How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F

by: edneff This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 6 09:42:50 2015

i would think that the address the package was shipped to would not match the address the buyer used so that would be an easy explanation. put the responsibility back on the seller to prove to eBay what address was used

How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F   How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F

by: a_c_green This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 6 12:13:14 2015

This is actually a fairly old scam. Just to reiterate the basics: the seller prints the label as usual (so that shipping records show the buyer's actual address), but then slaps on a different address within the buyer's City and ZIP code. The package itself may be either empty or contain some trinket to give the USPS something to deliver to that wrong address. Eventually, the tracking number shows a Delivered status, even though the original buyer has received nothing; somewhere else in the same town is a baffled recipient with something he didn't order (and probably no return address either).

If the buyer files an Item Not Received, the seller counters with the Delivery Confirmation, and as it is not specific to a street address, the seller wins.

The buyer doesn't have a whole lot to work with in the case of a scam like this. The reply above indicating that an image of the package label is available is a promising step forward, if in fact it was scanned at some point in its travels. In addition, the very newest portable scanners log their GPS coordinates for each delivery, helping to pin down where the misdirected shipment might have gone. It's not clear whether eBay/PayPal would know what to do with that evidence these days, as the initial INR is typically decided by bots; the buyer would have to appeal, talk to someone on the phone, and get them to look at (and understand) the package image or other delivery data.

Here (below) is a link to an interesting read about another buyer who was victimized by the same scam, but who actually won out in the end:

http://community.ebay.com/t5/Shipping-Returns/Delivery-Confirm
ed-But-Not-Delivered/m-p/23846138#M82602


(Note that the Discussion Group topic above actually starts on a different matter in a previous year. The link above should jump you directly to the relevant posting beginning in Message 93, by the poster loggerheaddiving.)

How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F   How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F

by: I Must be Crazy This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 6 12:16:07 2015

Good info. I have never heard of such a scheme. Thank you for sharing this.

How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F   How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F

by: ebay refugee camp This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 6 13:36:14 2015

You cannot run that scam on ebay, ebay will check the address to see if it was shipped to the correct address.
I am not sure who this poster is but they are not telling the truth.

How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F   How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F

by: a_c_green This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 6 14:18:38 2015

@ebay refugee camp:
> You cannot run that scam on ebay, ebay will check the
> address to see if it was shipped to the correct address.

USPS Delivery Confirmation does not specify what address the package was delivered to. It only states the recipient's City and ZIP code. That's the loophole that a scam seller takes advantage of: in order to win the Item Not Received dispute and keep the money, he need only provide a tracking number showing a Delivered status to someplace (unspecified) within the buyer's City and ZIP.

If you read through the discussion in the link that I provided above, you can see how the scam plays out, and how the scammer (almost) succeeded.

As a PostScript to all this, take a look at the feedback of the seller that victimized loggerheaddiving. (Look to see who he left a Neg for, and click on that seller's name to see the rest of their feedback.) That seller is now at -2, with numerous big-ticket, nonexistent sales to different unhappy buyers, all stemming from one burst of auctions that they put up in one day back in early April.

> I am not sure who this poster is but they are not telling the truth.

Which poster? Truth about what?

How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F   How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F

by: fashionista This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 6 20:21:15 2015

I don't deny there are bad sellers out there, just like bad buyers. I had never heard of this scam, and I don't deny it happened to the OP, but it must be really bad luck if keeps happening.
I don't think it's as prevalent as the op states.

How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F   How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F

This user has validated their user name. by: thehosst

Thu May 7 00:41:30 2015

Scammers ask USPS to hold mail, until after the dispute is escalated and closed, usually refunded to buyer ( now from seller's money more and more ) and then scammer goes and gets the mail and gets money and package.

Another scam is to ask a person in same building to get package, of course eBay does not offer any protection anymore. Selling on eBay is now a huge waste or time.

How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F   How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F

by: Joey4711 This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 7 00:41:44 2015

This scam doesn't work.....the tracking will show delivered anyone can go to the post office with the tracking and they will give you a digital copy of the address it was delivered to.  Perhaps 10 years ago this worked.

I had a buyer deny she received an item and it showed delivered. She contended I didn't send it where it was supposed to go. I had used another computer program to generate mail....I simply contacted the post office and they emailed me I think it was $1.50 or so the address of delivery.   I won...the dispute.

How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F   How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F

by: toyspast This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 7 00:53:51 2015

This scenario by far is easier for the buyer to scam the seller then the seller to scam the buyer. To be protected, the seller has to use eBay or Paypal shipping. They can use other services and upload the tracking but I don't think that carries the same safeguards when using Paypal or eBay labels. So Paypal and eBay have access to the address that was printed. The only way to change that is to place a different address as mentioned above by pasting or inserting a new address in its place which would be a big red flag at the USPS. However, when returning a package, the rules are more lenient for the buyers. They are only required to provide a tracking number. A buyer scammed me with this a few years ago. They were returning a game to my PO Box where I'm quite well known at my post office. I was surprised when the tracking showed the item was delivered but I got nothing back. I believe they shipped a pencil or some other lightweight item to my zip code so the costs would be low. When it showed as delivered, they got their money back for the game. I BEGGED Paypal to require the buyer to send a copy of the postal receipt that would list the weight of the item, knowing they did not send a 3-pound item back, but they sided with the buyer and didn't require them to show proof at all. I lost the case but filed a complaint with the BBB and eBay reimbursed me.

How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F   How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F

by: A-Non-A-Mouse This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 7 01:00:59 2015

I don't sell on eBay, and haven't purchased anything there in some time, either, but couldn't this scam be circumvented earlier in the process if the buyer uses PayPal to make the purchase? PayPal actually requires signature confirmation it on all purchases valued at $250 or more under the seller protection guidelines.

If I were a buyer and the amount was under that, yet still significant, could I not request delivery with signature confirmation, even offering to pay the minimal fee for it myself?

How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F   How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F

by: Paul W This user has validated their user name.

Thu May 7 01:35:25 2015

This supposed scam isn't going to work since once USPS gets the package, the 9-digit zip code is building specific, so USPS will know the address to which the package was delivered.

How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F   How eBay Sellers Can Use USPS Tracking to Commit F

This user has validated their user name. by: LasVagueness

Thu May 7 01:41:48 2015

@iheartjacksparrow $750 is the new cutoff for signature confirmation through PayPal. I do a Zillow address check, and assess the buyer's history/FB to assess whether I want to include sig conf for parcels valued at less than $750 even though I am not required to by both eBay and PayPal.  

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