Ebay Second Chance Scam
If you've used EBay at all, you probably know the tension of bidding on an item - and losing at the last minute. But what would you do if the seller contacted you after and offered you a second chance to buy the item? You might want to be careful, because in many cases, it's a scam.
How It WorksAfter you lose an auction, you receive an official looking e-mail offering you that second chance to buy the item you bid on. Click on the link and you're taken to a site that looks like EBay, where you give your credit card details or arrange to send your money, believing you're buying the item.
The problem is, the site isn't real. Instead, although it looks perfect in every detail, it's set up by a hacker. Once you've given those credit card details, your money has gone - and so possibly, has your identity.
It's become a pervasive EBay scam. In 2004 a Welsh teenager was convicted of conning more than 100 people out of £45,000 with such a scam, and he's just the tip of the iceberg. According to computer security experts, hundreds of thousands of such e-mails are sent every month. If only a small percentage respond, that's a lot of money.
It's a variation of the scam known as "phishing," an attempt to lure you to a fake web site and steal your financial information.
How To Avoid The Scam
- Real second-chance offers will come to you through "My Messages" in eBay, not in an e-mail. You can find this by logging into the "My EBay" area (at the top of your screen as you log in).
- Read the mail carefully. How is the spelling and the grammar? Fake offers frequently have very bad English.
- Run your mouse over the link. At the bottom of the screen you'll see a different web address, the real one. The address typed into the mail is a fake.
- Consider downloading the free EBay toolbar, which flashes when it believes a browser is pointed to a fraudulent web site (to get it, go to the 'Services' link at the top of any eBay auction page, scroll down in 'Tools" to "eBay Downloads").
- Check the EBay ID of the sender. Beware if the user name on the email is not the name of original seller. That could be because a seller has more than one user name, but it should raise red flags.
- Contact the original seller to determine if the offer is real.
- Be suspicious if the supposed EBay mails suggest payment through Western Union. Once the transaction is complete, the recipient becomes untraceable. Also, it's never EBay policy to recommend payment this way.
What To Do If you're A VictimSadly, if you do become a victim of the second chance scam, there's little anyone can do to help you. Report the incident to the police, but in all honesty they don't have the resources to follow up. Report it to EBay, of course. But in situations like this, their resources are limited.
If you've given credit card information, inform the credit reference agency and your credit card company. You might be able to dispute the charge, and you should have a fraud alert placed on your credit file, as you would for identity theft.
Remember that EBay does run a legitimate second-chance service, which sellers can use when the highest bidder drops out. But always check it out carefully first - never take anything at face value!