My first eBay scam

· by Steve · Read in about 3 min · (577 Words)

I’m not a heavy user of eBay, in fact until about a year or two ago I’d never used it. Unlike some people who routinely buy tons of DVDs & games etc that they want to offload later, I tend to mostly buy stuff that I want to keep, and anything that I finally want to get rid of after a few years, I give to a charity shop. I did however find it useful to sell off my laptop last year, and I’ve since used it to sell a couple of bits of PC hardware I didn’t need anymore - they weren’t the kind of thing a charity shop would really find a use for, I can’t imagine a Granny picking one up there and thinking ‘oh yeah, I could really use a Mini-ITX board to run that media server I fancied building’.

However, I’m now getting rid of all my PS2 hardware, since its remaining raison d’etre was Guitar Hero which has now been ruthlessly usurped by Rock Band. Since it’s all only a year old and I’d quite like to offset some of the significant financial outlay for Rock Band, I naturally turned to eBay.

I figured I’d put a Buy It Now option on the PS2 hardware itself, and was pleased when someone took it up. However, I was less pleased afterwards to receive a forged PayPal payment confirmation email, sporting a delivery address in Nigeria. The email was quite a good forgery, they got the layout spot-on and they tried to hide their forged links behind Javascript-laden images, but really the effort was wasted since there were a couple of fatal flaws that even a total moron should have spotted:

  1. The address was in Nigeria. Internet scam capital of the world. Duh.
  2. They had inexplicably decided to add £100 to the amount (supposedly) paid for no good reason. Clearly the idea was to get people so excited that they would ignore the other issues, but I’ve always been taught that if something looks too good to be true, it usually is
  3. The excuse as to why this email was not backed up with eBay / PayPal transactions was frankly ludicrous: “the amount will not show up until you send us the shipping reference number”. Shyeah, right.

This was the first time this had happened to me, but even so I’m stunned that people are taken in by this sort of attempt. Obviously I cancelled the bid and re-listed, but from what I read, people really do fall for this kind of thing; high-end mobiles appear to be very popular in particular. How dumb do you have to be to mail a £300 phone to an address in Nigeria on the back of an email that says that the money will magically appear once the item is in the mail? Maybe greed turns off certain parts of some people’s brains - wave the prospect of way more money than the item is worth in front of someone and maybe they’ll put common sense on hold.

In the end it’s a minor annoyance this one time. I’m actually surprised I didn’t have the problem with my laptop, which was valued significantly higher than the PS2 - maybe it was the Buy It Now option that was the honeypot. At least feel included in the whole Nigerian scam Internet phenomenon now - sure I’ve had the 419 emails for years but those are so impersonal 😀