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  1. #1
    GentlemanCaller is offline Junior Member
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    Online eBay Gift Card Scam

    What is the name of your state? Michigan

    I was recently scammed over eBay. I sold $475 worth of Amazon.com gift certificates at auction for $472. As is commonly done I advertised free shipping through e-mail. Basically, after payment was received and cleared I would e-mail the codes to the winning bidder. The winning bidder paid promptly and I waited until PayPal had deposited the funds into my account. The winning bidder was also "verified" and his address was "confirmed". This supposedly meant that PayPal could "verify" that the buyer did have a valid bank account/credit card tied to the address they had on file. It also meant that PayPal could "confirm" the buyer's address was legit as well. I didn't sense any problem. At this point I e-mailed the buyer the codes for the gift certificates through e-mail and eBay's messaging service. The buyer actually left me positive feedback.

    A few days later I was contacted by another member who noticed that this same user had gone on after my auction to purchase around 20 other gift cards for at or above face value. This was very unusual. Sure enough later that same day I received an e-mail from PayPal informing me that the buyer had paid with "fraudulent funds" and that the money was "frozen" in my account. Since it had already been a few days the money had not only been transferred from my account but actually had time to register in my bank account. This left me with a negative PayPal balance. I immediately called PayPal and was told that under there "seller protection policy" they only covered items shipped physically with tracking information and that I probably wouldn't be covered. I was advised to respond to the e-mail from PayPal with all requested information. The e-mail also mentioned that they would respond within 5 days either to tell me the outcome of the "investigation" or to tell me that they needed more time. It's been roughly two weeks and I still haven't heard back from PayPal.

    At this point I realize that I won't get my money back from the buyer. His "confirmed" address on PayPal showed up as phony after I did five second google maps search. PayPal and eBay both told me to contact local law enforcement. Local law enforcement told me that they would take a report but didn't pursue this type of fraud unless the total lost was several thousand dollars. Local law also suggested that I contact eBay. The same buyer also ripped off a number of others. eBay took down the users history shortly after complaints were filed (presumably to protect themselves) so I do not have a complete list of everyone he attempted to scam but I have been in contact with atleast six others who were scammed as well.

    Here are my main concerns at present. First, PayPal is largely meant to be a secure way to transfer money online, it was especially meant for transferring money to and from strangers (it is an eBay company after all). I feel that with that in mind and the fact that they labeled the buyer as "verified" and "confirmed" I was lulled into a false sense of security. I wouldn't have sent the codes had it not been for the fact that PayPal not only accepted this payment but also that they were vouching for the user. Now while I think that what they did is bordering on false advertising (or something similar), I didn't think I could hold them responsible for the loss. Only recently did someone suggest I pursue legal action against the company for not clearly stating that "verified" and "confirmed" is actually worthless and is seemingly there only to present a false sense that PayPal has actually checked everything out. Is this an option I could actually take? Should I contact a lawyer to pursue this claim?

    Secondly, the reason why e-mail delivery is not covered under PayPal's seller protection program is that they can't verify delivery. However, in this case delivery could be verified or at least pursued. I checked with Amazon.com and the gift cards had been cashed in... so in theory Amazon.com would have the address of the thief on file as they would need to have an address to ship the products too. This to me would signify that the product was delivered. The fact that he's used them. On top of that, I'm very frustrated that even with the knowledge of the thief's location no one will step in to pursue him. I'd say with all this in mind it would be pretty easy to justify that delivery of the goods can be verified. Am I wrong?

    Any advice on the situation would be greatly appreciated. I have already contacted everyone I can think of. Amazon.com's legal department, local law enforcement, PayPal, eBay, IC3 (The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center), NCL (National Fraud Information Center). So far I haven't gotten any results and it appears that PayPal isn't going to return or make any attempt to recover my money. Again any advice would be greatly appreciate on what legal options I might have against anyone in this case. Thank you.
  2. #2
    panzertanker is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by GentlemanCaller
    Again any advice would be greatly appreciate on what legal options I might have against anyone in this case. Thank you.
    The person you can go after is the buyer....
    But you do not know who that is....
    It would appear you are SOL....
    I have noticed that even intelligent people ask assinine questions every now and again.
    Disclaimer: I know a few lawyers. None of them is named panzertanker.
  3. #3
    Law Wizard is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by GentlemanCaller
    What is the name of your state? Michigan

    I was recently scammed over eBay. I sold $475 worth of Amazon.com gift certificates at auction for $472. As is commonly done I advertised free shipping through e-mail. Basically, after payment was received and cleared I would e-mail the codes to the winning bidder. The winning bidder paid promptly and I waited until PayPal had deposited the funds into my account. The winning bidder was also "verified" and his address was "confirmed". This supposedly meant that PayPal could "verify" that the buyer did have a valid bank account/credit card tied to the address they had on file. It also meant that PayPal could "confirm" the buyer's address was legit as well. I didn't sense any problem. At this point I e-mailed the buyer the codes for the gift certificates through e-mail and eBay's messaging service. The buyer actually left me positive feedback.

    A few days later I was contacted by another member who noticed that this same user had gone on after my auction to purchase around 20 other gift cards for at or above face value. This was very unusual. Sure enough later that same day I received an e-mail from PayPal informing me that the buyer had paid with "fraudulent funds" and that the money was "frozen" in my account. Since it had already been a few days the money had not only been transferred from my account but actually had time to register in my bank account. This left me with a negative PayPal balance. I immediately called PayPal and was told that under there "seller protection policy" they only covered items shipped physically with tracking information and that I probably wouldn't be covered. I was advised to respond to the e-mail from PayPal with all requested information. The e-mail also mentioned that they would respond within 5 days either to tell me the outcome of the "investigation" or to tell me that they needed more time. It's been roughly two weeks and I still haven't heard back from PayPal.

    At this point I realize that I won't get my money back from the buyer. His "confirmed" address on PayPal showed up as phony after I did five second google maps search. PayPal and eBay both told me to contact local law enforcement. Local law enforcement told me that they would take a report but didn't pursue this type of fraud unless the total lost was several thousand dollars. Local law also suggested that I contact eBay. The same buyer also ripped off a number of others. eBay took down the users history shortly after complaints were filed (presumably to protect themselves) so I do not have a complete list of everyone he attempted to scam but I have been in contact with atleast six others who were scammed as well.

    Here are my main concerns at present. First, PayPal is largely meant to be a secure way to transfer money online, it was especially meant for transferring money to and from strangers (it is an eBay company after all). I feel that with that in mind and the fact that they labeled the buyer as "verified" and "confirmed" I was lulled into a false sense of security. I wouldn't have sent the codes had it not been for the fact that PayPal not only accepted this payment but also that they were vouching for the user. Now while I think that what they did is bordering on false advertising (or something similar), I didn't think I could hold them responsible for the loss. Only recently did someone suggest I pursue legal action against the company for not clearly stating that "verified" and "confirmed" is actually worthless and is seemingly there only to present a false sense that PayPal has actually checked everything out. Is this an option I could actually take? Should I contact a lawyer to pursue this claim?

    Secondly, the reason why e-mail delivery is not covered under PayPal's seller protection program is that they can't verify delivery. However, in this case delivery could be verified or at least pursued. I checked with Amazon.com and the gift cards had been cashed in... so in theory Amazon.com would have the address of the thief on file as they would need to have an address to ship the products too. This to me would signify that the product was delivered. The fact that he's used them. On top of that, I'm very frustrated that even with the knowledge of the thief's location no one will step in to pursue him. I'd say with all this in mind it would be pretty easy to justify that delivery of the goods can be verified. Am I wrong?

    Any advice on the situation would be greatly appreciated. I have already contacted everyone I can think of. Amazon.com's legal department, local law enforcement, PayPal, eBay, IC3 (The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center), NCL (National Fraud Information Center). So far I haven't gotten any results and it appears that PayPal isn't going to return or make any attempt to recover my money. Again any advice would be greatly appreciate on what legal options I might have against anyone in this case. Thank you.

    Should you hire an attorney? Sure, if you don't mind chasing $400.00 or so for a $5,000.00 retainer fee, to be billed against at $400.00 per hour.

    Perhaps you've learned your lesson that there are criminals in your neighborhood as well as on the Internet; and that you won't ever use the Internet again for selling or purchasing. On the Internet, once you've been scammed by an unknown person, there's no real recourse. So, stop it!

    IAAL
  4. #4
    GentlemanCaller is offline Junior Member
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    Thanks for the quick responses guys. I'd basically given up on any hope of getting the money back... but that's why I was posting here to see what exactly I could do.

    Here's a question I was asked today. Since I have no "real recourse" and was advised to "stop it!" it seems like the perfect crime! What's to stop me or anyone reading this to do the same thing to someone else? Not that I would, but the question begs asking.

    Oh and I'm not sure if it matters as I'm inclined to believe Law Wizard's post was going more for sarcasm than actual help... but I have free legal representation. I was just unsure whether or not I should contact them or not about this. Once again thanks for the quick responses guys. It's much appreciated.
  5. #5
    seniorjudge is offline Senior Member
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    Q: What's to stop me or anyone reading this to do the same thing to someone else?

    A: Nothing.
    There are two rules for success:

    (1) Never tell everything you know.
  6. #6
    panzertanker is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by GentlemanCaller
    What's to stop me or anyone reading this to do the same thing to someone else?
    Fear of not covering your tracks correctly, and getting caught?
    Morals?
    Balls?


    Quote Originally Posted by GentlemanCaller
    Oh and I'm not sure if it matters as I'm inclined to believe Law Wizard's post was going more for sarcasm than actual help...
    Now you got the idea......
    He is basically saying that you need to suck it up and forget about it, and don't get duped anymore.
    I have noticed that even intelligent people ask assinine questions every now and again.
    Disclaimer: I know a few lawyers. None of them is named panzertanker.
  7. #7
    ablessin is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by seniorjudge
    Q: What's to stop me or anyone reading this to do the same thing to someone else?

    A: Nothing.

    I don't know if I would have the guts to try this.
    I just know I'd screw something up. however, I would like to become at least a part time scam artist. Seems they live well
  8. #8
    GentlemanCaller is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by panzertanker
    Fear of not covering your tracks correctly, and getting caught?
    Morals?
    Balls?
    Darn too much of one and not enough of the other!

    Thanks again guys, this was most appreciated. I'll definately be letting this one go.

    If one were to ever consider a life of crime I think this would seemingly be the way to go! As one of my co-workers put it... I guess he needed it for Christmas more than I did. Thanks again and take care.
  9. #9
    keith.e is offline Member
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    I don't know if this is an option for you, but I was in a similar situation. I was the buyer and the seller never made good on sending the package. I did everything through eBay and PayPal, including filing all of claims they make you do (and there are several), but to no avail on getting my money back. Called the police department, and got the same answer as you.

    Long story short, I contacted my bank and had them handle it -- got my money back while some sort of recourse was taken against the fraudulent seller. I don't know exactly what happened because after I got my money back the bank kept me out of the loop, but if you have e-mail records, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and even the phony physical address, you may be able to go that route to at least get your money.

    Good luck.

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