Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Is it safe to shop on eBay?

Every day at Sherlock Investigations we receive numerous cries for help from people who were defrauded after shopping on eBay. Frankly, most of these people should have known better, and often admit it. Either they made a deal with the seller outside of eBay, or they didn't check out the seller's feedbacks.

The only problem with the feedbacks is that some sellers employ multiple email addresses and send in feedback praising themselves. One of the ways we check the feedbacks is through tracing the IP addresses.

Asking if it's safe to shop on eBay is liking asking if it's safe to shop in New York City. Generally, the answer is "yes." In New York there are thousands of legitimate places to shop. New York, like eBay, is known for it's shopping opportunities. Yet, like everywhere, one has to be careful. Anytime there's money changing hands, there are crooks plying their trade.

Let me add to my admonition, "Never spend more on eBay than you can afford to lose." If you're making a large purchase on eBay, such as an expensive guitar, watch, or motorcycle (all recent cases at Sherlock Investigations), insist to the seller that you go through a recognized broker such as The way it works is that you send the payment to the escrow company, and the escrow company pays the seller after you receive and approve of the merchandise you ordered. Be very careful because some savvy, crooked sellers set up their own escrow site. It often imitates the look of (You'll pay a small, reasonable fee to

I'm stating this as a true public service, because the more people who take these precautions, the less business we'll have. However, I'm confident that there are enough careless people out there throwing their money around to keep Sherlock Investigations in business helping them.


Anonymous said...

we recently went through ebay or so we thought and were scammed also out of a large sum of money. but we were told that it did go thorugh an escrow account and now we still can't get anywhere. and we even went through squaretrade and they won't do anything. so i think ebay all around is a fraud any way you look at it.

Anonymous said...

I recently fell victim to an Ebay scam. The scam artist did an excellant job of accessing the "real" seller's data and my bid. I charged my purchase but through a Western Union system.I have received no assistance from Ebay or Squaretade (whose data was also copied). Has anyone had succeess in recovering monies? My credit card company appears to be of little help in this regard.

Anonymous said...

I lost 310 dollars in a ticket scam for a popular event. After 3 months, my credit card company finally ate the charge. Ebay was of no help

Anonymous said...

ive been lookin at the nokia n92 that my son wants for his b-day and ive searched it on ebay and this person wants to sell it to me 4 150pounds, i havent bought it yet but im jus wonderin if its a scam coz ive been lookin on websites n they say that it aint out untill mid 2006, can any 1 help me

Anonymous said...

scam for sure. Many people have been scammed in this way

Anonymous said...

today I received instructions on payment method along with pictures of the item I wanted to purchase.. Inside the instructions was an .exe file which when you opened it up, all it was was a picture of ebay's site showing escrow being a good site to use. Antivirus scanners checked the file fine and all.. but I noticed it changed my system's files so instead of pointing to it points to I hadn't noticed the changed until I clicked around and noticed odd things (copyright date is outdated.. missing random words in places.. faqs missing complete). These scammers are getting smarter..

Anonymous said...

Don't listen to any of the scammers. Many of them won't accept Paypal or I ask them why and they all tell me the same thing: "It is not available in my country". Some people have even made fake ebay invoices and the invoice tells you to pay through Western Union. I contacted an eBay representative to see the legitimacy of this email and they said they are not linked to Western Union in any way and that the email is probably a scam. The email address of such a scam is If you have Windows Live Mail, you will notice that it says at the top "Mail has elements found commonly in Phishing mails. We recommend you contact the sender via phone before opening this mail." Secondly, no matter how juicy the deal, don't go for it if the deal sounds like a scam or the seller asks for an instant payment in advance. Some seller offered me $500 for 11 Ipod Videos and it obviously sounded like a scam. The first time I actually got scammed was through a Cell Phone dealer who was offering me the Nokia N92 for $200. His payment method was, you guessed it, Western Union. He told me that he lived in the United Arab Emirates. Since I used to live in this country a while back, I thought why not make this deal with him... if there is a problem, I will pay him a visit. So I went ahead and made the deal through Western Union. A few days later, he told me that he had shipped 5 units because his shipping company didnt accept an order of less than 5. So he demanded that I pay for all 5 units ($1000). I said I would if he provide me proof that he shipped it. I waited for days, and he finally came up with a tracking code. I went to the Website. The Website looked so real but then I did some research on google. I found 0 results for that shipping company. Now I have the guy on hold on my MSN Messenger list. I asked him to visit a website that I made so I could find out his IP address. The IP address tracked him down to one of two places London, England and Swansea, England. My next step is I am going to get his phone number and call him to see if it is his real phone number. Then I am going to file a report with the Police using the information I have. These frauds should be banned from any internet trading. No matter how good the deal is, strictly tell them that you will only make the payment through or after they ship the product and you are fine with it. Many sellers will even ask you to make the payment for the shipping and then make the rest of the payment when you receive the product. These people will do anything to squeeze as much money as they can from you, even if it is just the shipping money. Say no to them too. Also say no to sellers that want Western Union, Money Gram, or any other instant payment method. Some of them will try to convince you that they are a legit company by saying things like "We are a legit company" or "We do business in a professional manner" or "We never scam our customers". However convincing they sound, they are only telling you what you want to hear. If you need any consulting or have any doubts about a deal you are planning to do, contact me at and I will be glad to help you out. I have been through so much of detective work on this subject. Who knows, I may even help you track this guy's IP address for you so you know where he's really from. It's a greedy world out there. Be careful.

Anonymous said...

You're all idiots!

eBay tells you NOT to pay via western union, they tell you how to keep an eye for spoof emails, they tell you what squaretrade is all about and yet you still blame them for your stupid mistakes!

Open your eyes - think before you do - and eBay is as safe as anywhere else is to shop.

Buyer Beware ffs!