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How I've been hit by Bay and Paypal's scammers twice in two weeks

By  Oct 23, 2007

Topics: Programming, C/C++, Security

eBay, which only a few months ago seemed like a tranquil online commerce arena to me, has recently shown its less pleasant facets. As a seller, I've been hit by a buyer who claimed he hadn't received his purchased items although the items were sent using a secure, trackable service. As a buyer, I was stung by a British crook who sent only one item (not the one I'd purchased, by the way), instead of two items, but had the audacity to charge me for two items and claim that I was cheating her! Sadly, I've come to the inevitable conclusion that eBay is no longer a place for me. Most likely, it isn't a place for innocent buyers and sellers like yourselves either. Learn here why.

Forget al you've heard about secure electronic money transfers, buyer's protection schemes and Resolution Centers. If you're going to sell anything on eBay you never have the confidence that your buyer will not claim that your items never arrived. "Why not send all items using a recorded service?" you're asking. Well, that's what I thought too. I sent two items to Italy using signed-for service. This means that the recipient must sign when he or she gets the parcel and the signed form is then returned to the seller. Sounds like a bulletproof plan, doesn't it? Well, rest assured that the grim combination of a corrupt Customs service and probably not very honest buyers will prove you wrong. Two weeks after shipment, the buyer claimed that the items hadn't arrived. I couldn't verify his claim (the Italian postal services Web site doesn't offer a reliable online tracking service). I was forced to issue a full refund. Yesterday, two weeks after the refund, I received a signed form indicating that at least one item HAD BEEN delivered. Alas, once the payment has been refunded to the buyer, there's not much you can do. I contacted the buyer. He now tells me strange stories: he's not in Italy at the moment and doesn't know if the item arrived. He'll probably deny as well that the form bears his own signature. Yeah right.

If that wasn't bad enough, gquadros,a British crook who pretends to be  a coin dealer cheated me a week ago. I bought two gold sovereigns, each having an intrinsic gold value of around 170$. After long weeks of waiting, she finally bothered to send "the item"(yes, in singular. Was that coincidental?)  as she described it her email. When I received the envelope I was gobsmacked -- it contained only one coin instead of two, and even the only coin that was inside wasn't the one I'd purchased at all! The envelope was of the cheapest kind you'd find: thin white paper, which was another shocking revelation: Is this how an experienced dealer sends precious items internationally? What happened to tamper proof envelopes? What about other means for disguising the envelope's contents? I emailed her right away. She ignored me for awhile. How convenient when the money was already safe and secure in her account! Then she came up with all sorts of excuses: the enveloper may have been tampered with (it might as well have, but what do you expect when you use such sloppy packaging materials?), she may have chosen the wrong date but she was certain the envelope contained two coins etc. etc. At first she promised to work to resolve this issue with me to my satisfaction but after a week without any sign of a replacement coin or refund, I contacted her again. As usual, she decided to ignore my emails. I know what she had in mind: if she could keep this futile negotiation going on for two more weeks, I would lose any right to open a Dispute and claim my money back. I decided not to wait any longer and opened a Dispute. Now her version is that what I'm saying is "untrue" and that she can prove that I received the envelope. Like, hello! I had already confirmed the receipt of the envelope but it contained only one coin instead of two!

At this stage, Paypal are investigating this case. My gut feeling isn't very positive about this case, though Their system is meant to ensure that whether you're an honest buyer or an honest seller, you'll lose. A crook seller can send you an empty envelope using signed-for delivery and as far as Paypal are concerned, this is sufficient to refute the buyer's claim.

So long eBay and Paypal. From now on, 19th century face to face trade for me please. I've had it up to here with both eBay and Paypal.

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