EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 1260 - April 18, 2006     1 of 1

Scam Kit: Women Make Easy Marks on eBay

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According to an "eBay scam kit" obtained by AuctionBytes, women are easy marks on eBay. The kit, marketed as "eBay: Women Dough v1.8," contained everything a scammer needs to set up auctions on eBay to sell items they don't own and don't intend to fulfill to "customers."


Scam Bait: One of the item pictures included in kit

The eBay Women Dough scam kit contained three prepackaged high-end auctions targeting U.S. female buyers. The kit included descriptions and photos to include in the eBay auctions with detailed advice on how to list, handle customer service and accept payments.

In a January 2005 article published by the Washington Post, reporter Brian Krebs talks about such "toolkits" and how they are marketed in IRC (Internet Relay Chat) chatrooms frequented by identity thieves (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A17680-2005Jan18). In the article, Krebs said, "IRC's relative anonymity makes it an attractive avenue of communication and commerce for countless hackers and identity thieves."

With many online-auction scams, the scammer hopes to get potential buyers to email him or her directly or through eBay's "Ask the Seller a Question" system. Once he or she has the email address of the "marks," the scammer can then work on persuading them to send money via wire-transfer. The scam kit showed a few ways to try to generate questions from potential bidders, including the recommendation that the scam seller include only one photo in the auction in the hopes potential buyers would email the seller asking to see additional photos of the item.

The Scam Kit Sales Pitch
The sales pitch for the eBay scam kit included the following description:

"This is a complete package on how to get very good results on HOT WANTED women items As you probably imagine women are the best victims to scam on eBay. So in this package you will find HOT products to list that US women would die for especially when yours has a major discount along with scaming methods and the best way to aproach your women clients. This is a tested method and 100% success is guaranteed. So go ahead and get deep into this package and get your eBay game on. Good luck!"

AuctionBytes conducted a search on eBay on Monday, April 17, and discovered what appeared to be an auction listing just as described in the scam kit. The listing was for a Bernina Artista 200E sewing and embroidery machine and contained the same photos and nearly identical description as that in the scam kit.

The Bernina machine was listed for $12 in a 1-day listing, and the seller had 16 other items for sale, all listed with starting bids of $12 and all ending within 10 minutes of each other.

The seller of the Bernina machine had 127 positive feedback ratings and had belonged to eBay since February 1999. However, the last time the seller had received feedback was exactly one year ago, a possible indication that it was a victim of a recent account takeover, or "hijacking." Other warning sign included the fact it was a "private auction"; the seller had included his email address in the description; and fact that the sewing machine was listed in the "Dolls & Bears" category.

By early Tuesday morning, eBay had pulled all 17 auctions and had "NARUed" (suspended) the seller's account.

What the Scam Kit Includes
In addition to the Bernina Artista 200E, the eBay scam kit included photos and descriptions for two other high-end items. The kit listed the retail prices of the three items along with a recommended eBay price ("your price"):

Bernina Artista 200E: Real price: $3,300, your price: $1,900
Precor EFX 5.23 Elliptical Trainer: Real price: $3,900.00, your price: $2,300.00
Viking Husqvarna SE sewing machine: Real price: $7,400.00, your price: $2,900.00

Detailed instructions included getting a domain name with "bullet proof hosting" (so your domain name will be left up for at least a month - if you don't use it to spam, the kit says), making 3 email boxes for conducting business, and how to invoice the customer. The kit even came with "Fake Customer Support E-mails."

The scam kit recommended splitting the transaction amount into more than one transfer amount: "(ONE TRANSFER CAN NEVER EXCEED 5000), you will have to do this to make sure that the buyer will wire the money once he is in the Western Union office because Western Union employees will get suspicious if the amount is too big and will warn your sucker."

"Classic" versus "Black Leather" Listing Methods
The scam kit came with two recommended listing methods: the Classic Listing Method and the Black Leather Listing Method. The Classic listing method recommended scammers list items in the proper category. The Black Leather listing method recommended posting items in the DVD & Movies category. Here's why, according to the kit: "If you list your auction by the Classic Listing Tutorial it will probably take about 4-5 hours, even more to get it on the site , that is because ebay staff takes every listing manually and checks everything on it. Now in the DVD & Movies category that doesn't happened they just list your item instantly without reviewing it so buyers who will search the keyword "BERNINA ARTISTA 200E" your item will be the first to pop because you got it 1 minute after listing it on the site and because it's in a different cateogory than the other sergers, so they will separate your item from the rest and put it first in line."

The "tutorials" also included recommendations on avoiding the attention of eBay "watch dogs." In some cases, victims of online fraud begin monitoring auction sites for scammers so they can warn other potential victims. But by listing items as private auctions, scammers can keep the identity of bidders private, making it more difficult for "watch dogs" to warn the bidders.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission maintains the Consumer Sentinel database, a resource for online fraud and identity theft.

"eBay: Women Dough v1.8" Scam Kits Contents

  • Intro (text document)
  • Classic Listing Tutorial (text document)
  • Black Leather Listing Tutorial (text document)
  • Scaming Method Folder:
    E-mail Titles (text document)
    Payment Instructions (text document)
    HowTo (text document)
    Payment Reminder (text document)
    Welcome Text (text document)
    Invoice (HTML document)
  • Items Folder:
    Folder named "Bernina Arista 200E" containing 3 JPG photos and a description in a Word file
    Folder named "Precor EFX 5.23" containing 2 JPG photos and a description in a Word file
    Folder named "Viking Husqvarna SE" containing 8 JPG photos and a description in a Word file


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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