CHICO — Continuing from last week’s column regarding Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, this week let’s turn our attention to scammers on eBay.
The California Attorney General’s Office issued a consumer alert about scammers on one of the internet’s oldest and most famous bidding websites regarding scammers posing as shops or individual sellers to defraud buyers.
A large part of eBay’s schtick is that it allows its sellers to put items out for bid with a time limit before said seller picks the highest bidder. Alternatively, second chance options are available to allow those who may not have won the bid to have another chance at the item.
Sellers and buyers can communicate on the website via a messaging system similar to that of social media so that there can be a direct line of communication. However, according to the Attorney General’s Office, this is where scammers try and sink their claws into hopeful buyers.
“Manipulating the eBay messaging system, the scam artist posing as the seller contacts bidders to announce the winning bid fell through and offers a second chance to buy the product by wiring the purchase price to the non-eBay email address provided,” the alert reads. “The scam artist is counting on consumers being tricked into a direct sale and being lured by the positive feedback seen on eBay.”
Chances are, the alleged seller is a con artist pretending to be part of the organization selling items in hopes of nabbing some quick money while never actually sending the merchandise.
And just like that, your money is gone. Dust in the electronic wind.
Some ways to avoid this kind of scam, besides always being vigilant, start with staying on eBay’s website where there are safeguards, direct payment methods and some level of accountability. Scammers might direct you to leave the site and do business elsewhere.
That leads to the next tip, don’t wire money to the seller, keep it on the website. This includes avoiding sending checks to the seller.
If you think you’ve been scammed or you think someone is trying to scam you, report them to eBay’s customer support page.
As always, don’t give out personal information to anyone who isn’t verified.
Scam of the Week generally runs every Tuesday. Readers are welcome to contact reporter Jake Hutchison to report scams and potential scams they have come in contact with by calling 828-1329 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.