This guide is intended to help you recognise fraudulent auctions and advertisiements for motorcycles that don't exist
- Fraud and the Sale of Stolen Property on E-Bay is on the rise. Once only really prevalent in the US, Australia is now a target.
- A random survey of the E-bay Motors section recently found over 50 possible scam ads.
- If you complete a transaction outside of E-bay - You are on your own.
- If it sounds to good to be true - IT IS.
- Scammers lie and they don't care about you. Beware of Divorce/Dead Mothers/Debt stories. They are just lines ro reel you in on.
How it works
The Scam Artist - let's call him Joe Blow - gets some photos off the internet, either from a bike/car fan site or a classified ad and lists it for sale on E-bay using a stolen username and password or a new account with zero feedback.Joe will often make up some story about how his E-bay email account doesn't work for some bull reason and you will need to deal with him direct through his web based email from one of the usual providers.
If you win the auction or use the buy it now option Joe will obligingly send you bank accouint details for an offshore bank in the US, UK, Spain, France, Romania or some other country nowhere near here. In exchange you will get a routing number, tracking number or some other useless string of digits supposedly enabling you to claim the bike which is currently "on hold" in a warehouse or "in transit". Once the funds have cleared scammer disappears along with your money. A few weeks later you lodge a complaint with E-bay but it's too late.
How to recognise a Scam Ad
Scam Ads follow are pretty easy pattern to recognise if you know what to look for:
1. The seller id will be a new user with zero feedback. OR
2. The seller account will be old with a good score but either registered in another country or with a noticeable gap in activity. IE: The person stopped using their E-bay account and the scammer hacked it. OR
3. The scammer uses a phishing scam to hack an existing/live account. Look for a woman who normally sells teddy bears who is suddenly branching out into Harleys.4. There will be a Buy it Now option either in Ebay format or as a written in option in the item description. The price will be well below the normal value of the item.
5. There will be an aol. com, yahoo. com. hotmail. com or some other web based email mentioned in the ad - Legitimate E-baty users all have POP3 or offline email like normal people. Sending and soliciting offers outside of E-bay's email system is against E-bay's Policy.
6. Photo Errors - If the bike/car is advertised as being in Sydney - look in the background for US registered cars and homes that look English or American instead of Australian.
7. Title and Description Errors - There may be a different bike/car in the photo from the one described in the title and the description may be different again. EG: The advertisement may be for a 2005 R1 and the photo may be of a 2003. Know your product.
8. When you ask questions they don't get answered or do but poorly and usually in poor English. Many scammers have English as their second language, and they are just making things up so they make mistakes, contadict themselves or ignore you in the hope you will bid anyway.
9. If you ask to view the vehicle it will not be available as it is in storage, in transit, overseas in bonded sotre or some other cock and bull nonense.
What Happens Next?If you paid - What happens is you lose your money and the scammer disappears.
If you didnt pay he might send you a few emails trying to get you to change your mind. DON'T.
What Can I do?1. Don't Bid - No matter what. No matter how cheap the bike is - IT DOESNT EXIST.
2. Report It - Someone has to get pro-active. Ebay will do nothing unless it gets reports from buyers/victims.
3. Report It - If you have genuine information that might lead to the identity of the scammer, notify the law enforcement officials in your area. For Australia I would imagine that this sort of thing would be handled by the Australian Federal Police - Fraud Unit.
4. Report It - Report the email address to the provider of the scammer's webspace/email service.
5. Report it - Tell your friends - We all buy things from places by word of mouth. The same is true for scams. If you tell your friends the word gets around.