“Fun” with eBay

A couple of weeks ago, somebody posted to one of the rec.aviation newsgroups that he’d seen a Garmin GNS 530 on eBay going for $1000. Since we’re paying about $8,000 for the one we’re putting in our Dakota, it seemed too good to be true.

Examining the auction, it was too good to be true. It turns out it was so obviously a fraud that there was no way it could possibly be legit.

  • The seller requested that you email him before you bid (a sure sign that they want to sell it off eBay to avoid eBay’s minimal fraud protections.
  • The seller claimed to have 5 of them, and was willing to sell them for $1000 each (which is strange, because only one was up for auction, and had a minimum bid of $100 with no reserve, so how could he be sure of the price?)
  • All the seller’s other auctions were for high end electronic items, always with the same flags – always 5 of them, always stating a firm price, and always an admonition to contact him before bidding.

    I jumped through eBay’s stupid hoops to report the guy, and a few hours later, his auctions were all gone. And a few hours after that, they were back under another seller id. So I reported that one as well. Because I was also currently scanning eBay to see if I can get a deal on a new handheld GPS, I’ve been going back daily searching with a few of the fraud flags, and find the same auctions back again and again and again. I must have reported 15 of these things in the last week. Strangely enough, the sellers always seemed to have good feedback. And then I discovered why – every now and then the auctions will have, in the seller’s part of the html (as opposed to the bits that eBay controls) a “click here to see my other auctions” which takes you to a non-eBay address, but which requires you to log in with your eBay account and password!

    Now I’m really annoyed. Ebay is very fast at removing these auctions once you report them (although since it takes you about 5 screens to get to the part where you can report it, I can see getting tired of reporting these things pretty shortly). But why can’t they take some basic precautions before accepting a listing? For instance, the email address for these fraudulent listings hasn’t changed in a while. Why don’t they just block any account that tries to put in a listing with a mailto:XXXXXX@aol.com (I’ve redacted the actual address because I don’t want to appear in google searches for that address)? Or if the listing has an href tag, have the eBay software go to that link and see if it has eBay graphics either linked or embedded in it? Or if it has a form with a password type field, hold it up to some manual scrutiny? Some of these things would be easy for the scammers to bypass, but they’re not bypassing it now.

One thought on ““Fun” with eBay”

  1. My wife is a frequent ebay user so I asked her to try and find me a Garmin 296 GPS, several appeared selling for around £400.00 which is less than half price new. On inspection of these auctions they all said to contact the seller at his aol email address in the same format you describe. She has since created a saved search and everyday new auctions appear which she then immediately reports to ebay. It seems the actual accounts being used are all hacked accounts, many of which have alot of feedback for buying and selling things like clothes, music etc.. nothing aviation related.

    Sigh… I guess these thieves must con people out of money else they wouldn’t keep posting these auctions.

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