To fund a new camera I’ve been wanting (ok really obsessing over) I decided to sell a few lenses that I don’t use much. After posting on the local used forums I decided to try and give eBay a try. Now I have never sold on eBay before but with a listing all ready to go I hit the publish button!
Your eBay item sold!
Within a few hours it was sold! Not having sold anything before I read the email from eBay and one line stuck out “Once you get paid, here’s what you can do”. Ok so I got to wait to get paid got it.
The text message
So apparently the buyer gets your phone number, which was news to me. I got a text message from my “buyer”. Right away I knew this wasn’t right. Why?
- The buyer should not be contacting me directly through text message
- The from email he provided is odd (note the 8734 at the end)
- He refers to the Nikon lens I was selling as “your item on ebay” which struck me as odd
- The biggest clue was that he asked me for my PayPal email
Another clue? The buyer was new to eBay with no history.
A Buyer should NEVER ask for your PayPal or Banking details
A real buyer would use the Pay Now button on eBay as such there is no need for this buyer to ask for my PayPal email.
Curious as to what the scam is I decided to provide them with my email after sending the invoice to them through eBay :)
Fake emails & a change of address
What happened next was a pretty decent scam that I’m sure more than a few people have fallen for.
You’ve got new funds!
First I received an email from “Paypal” (not really, more on that later) that claimed I had received not only what I asked for the lens & shipping but an extra $130 to cover shipping costs to Nigeria ;)
Spotting fake emails
Always check the sender address of the email, this will depend on which client you are using but what you want to do is see not what Name the email is from, but what email address it’s from. In this case the scammer used the name “member@paypal” but the actual email address was firstname.lastname@example.org
Proof of shipment to release funds
After the fake PayPal email I received another fake email this time from eBay indicating once I provide proof of shipment the funds will be released. Again this is not how it works. In a valid sale the buyer would pay through eBay & Paypal, and only once you confirm payment has been received do you ship the item and confirm it’s shipment through eBay.
What to do
First thing you should do is cancel the sale & provide an explanation that the buyer was a scammer. You can also report the fake/spook emails as well.
- Don’t communicate with a seller outside of eBay
- Always check the email addresses of emails you receive related to your sale
- NEVER ship an item before you have received payment
- When in doubt, contact eBay
To learn more about protecting yourself against scams eBay has resources to help identify, avoid and report scams.