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Online Auction Rip-Offs

Online auctions such as eBay are a likely target of phishing and pharming scams, but the trouble for shoppers doesn’t end there.

“For instance,” says John Hambrick of the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, “you might get an e-mail saying, ‘You aren’t the winning bidder, but I have one more of those items to sell.’ They’re trying to circumvent the auction system and get you to send them a cashier’s check. Trust me, they will not send you anything in return.”

Other signs that an online rip-off awaits you include sellers who:

  • Don’t accept standard third-party payers such as PayPal; instead, they ask you to use their own escrow service.


  • Ask for payment by Western Union.


  • Ask for your bank account number, Social Security number, or any other information not required.


  • Ship from, or are registered in, Andorra—a country in the Pyrenees known to be a haven for phony eBay vendors.


  • Ship merchandise from an address or area other than the seller’s address.


From "Scam-Proof Your Life: 377 Smart Ways to Protect You & Your Family," by Sid Kirchheimer, 2006, p. 268.

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