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FBI States Online Auction Fraud Biggest Source of Complaints 158

Posted by Hemos
from the well-duh dept.
dipfan writes "The FBI says internet auction fraud was the biggest source of complaints last year, according to the annual report by the Internet Fraud Complaint Centre. The Nigerian bank scam still remains popular, even after all these years. Quote: "During 2001, Internet auction fraud was by far the most reported offense, comprising 42.8% of referred complaints .... Non-deliverable merchandise and payment comprise 20.3% of complaints, and credit and debit card fraud make up 9.4% of complaints." The report is a 27 page PDF file while the Washington Post wrote up an article about it." Just ask CowboyNeal about some of his fun with dealing with dealers in Hong Kong.
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FBI States Online Auction Fraud Biggest Source of Complaints

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  • ME TOO!!! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I claim this frist post in the name of the .test community. Cherish Jorie's left tittie.
  • News Flash! (Score:1, Troll)

    by BiggestPOS (139071)
    Buying things you haven't seen from people you have never met can be more frustrating than buying things from a local trusted retailer! And I thought saving all that money by buying my Car on eBay was WITHOUT increased risk of problems!
  • doesn't suprise me (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dciman (106457) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @11:54AM (#3323791) Journal
    I have been messing around in the online auction business for several years now. I can say that you seriously have to do your homework on the person you are bying from.... look at their past ratings by other buyers... of course even with that you never know. Unfortunatly, sometimes you just get burned. It's happened to me a couple of times. Luckly with enough harassment and some "legal looking" documents sent to the seller I was able to clear it up. I know of others not as lucky.
    • Really its buyer beware.

      If you can't afford to burn the same amount of money with a match, you can't afford to spend it on the web.

      If you are unwilling top take the risk, then just shop local.

      Just think of shopping on the web as a form of gambling where the odds are mostly in your favour unlike the pokies at the local pub or club.

      Whether you like it all not, the web is above the law, & its better if it stays that way.

    • by PineGreen (446635)

      ...look at their past ratings by other buyers...



      No, don't! Plenty of scams are based on selling faithfully and nicelly tens of 1$ items so that everyone belives you when you try to sell a 1000$ item.
  • trusted sellers (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Partisan01 (547933)
    I've found that the online auction world is rewarding, but sometimes not worth the effort. For the most part I've have fine dealings. But I won't buy items that are very expensive ($350+) unless it's from a reputable dealer or in person. Ironicly the most of my problems that I've had on Ebay and others have been from the trusted sellers with tons and tons of feedback. They are slow to ship and have lost my money in the past.

    • I have noticed this too. I have a feeling that people with 1,000+ ratings on eBay can get lazy about shipping, etc. since a few negative ratings won't really hurt them at this point. Will a potential buyer care if someone has a rating of 3,583 instead of 3,584? I now check the actual feedback for sellers for any negatives/neutrals and read them to see why.
      • Will a potential buyer care if someone has a rating of 3,583 instead of 3,584?

        So the solution would be that negative feedback resets the person to 0 instantly.
        • Then you have the problem of random jerks finding the best sellers and giving them negative feedback even when the seller performs his duties. Remember, no matter what you do there are going to be people trying to make the whole process as difficult as possible for everyone.
  • by asmithmd1 (239950) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @11:56AM (#3323808) Homepage Journal
    Those on line auctions are just an enticement for criminals, they should shut down quickly before another person is ripped off. I am going to call senator Hollins, he has shown himself to be savy in these areas and is a leader that is not afriad to take action

    • by KilljoyAZ (412438) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @11:59AM (#3323833) Homepage
      Get him to shut down IRC too, while you're at it. I read on CNN that hackers use it.
    • You know I think we should just ban computers cause people are doing way to many bad things on them!
    • by Alsee (515537) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @01:21PM (#3324362) Homepage
      I'd be laughing if it weren't for a creepy conversation I just had with my mother.

      A while ago I mentioned to her that I planned to contact my congress critters about the CBDTPA and I explained some of the issues. She thought I was going off the deep end. Today I explained how the congressional committee got flooded with responses, 100% opposing it, and that the bill was dead. She said ok, I was right. But then she commented about the "bad porn" on the internet and we need to "regulate the internet". When I tried to compare that to blaming telephones or cars for crimes commited with them she just looked at me like I was evil or something. Her response was "the internet makes access to it easy". Well DUH, the internet makes access to *everything* easy. Kind of like telephones and cars make access to people and places easy.

      Your post was a joke, the problem is that the offline-world doesn't get it. Pardon me while I bang my head against the wall - maybe the pain will go away.

      -
      • my parents are the same way, they always tell me to see the other side of the issue, the side which wasn't presented. And the fact of the matter is, the side that was presented (what I was talking about) was absolutely correct. I can't count the number of times they told me I was being silly, then they found out from other sources a week later and kept completely silent, as to keep from admitting thier error.
    • They are all over half.com, and Ebay doesn't give a damn about it. I had some guy try and sell me a burn of a Dreamcast game as "Like New". As soon as I complain, 15 other people complain that the guy has sold discs that don't even work, have no data on them, etc. I email Ebay and Sega, and months later the guy's still suckering people.

      Also, that guy selling Luis Gonzalez' used chewing gum [go.com] looks like he's got a scam going.
  • This makes a lot of sense.

    The Internet prides itself, or, the users of the Internet, on anonymity, so it's no suprise that crime (fraud is just another type of crime) would soar. Without proper dererrents, people have no reasons not to commit these crimes. (Morals aside.)

    Of course, we shouldn't overlook the fact that the Internet is where a great deal of commerece is moving, and where there is commerece, there is fraud.
    • the best deterrent is education.
      If people would relize there sending somebody they've never seen, wouldn't rcognize, using an Login, not a real name, and showing pictures of merchindise, is not secure.
      there is no reason to trust anybody on ebay. none.
      • there is no reason to trust anybody on ebay. none.

        I disagree.

        I've been using eBay since late 1999, and up until VERY recently (the last month) I have had absolutely NO trouble. I have participated in thousands of auctions, and have both purchased and sold items. The overwhelming majority of people who use eBay are trustworthy and use the service because it facilitates transactions with ease.

        As for the small few who misrepresent items, don't deliver, or just cheat in general, well, they are idiots. Last month I was ripped off twice. The result? I called the proper authorities, and those members are, well, not members anymore. Furthermore, I pursued the crimes and got either my money back, or the item I had purchased.

        eBay works, if people are willing to use what's there.
    • The Internet prides itself, or, the users of the Internet, on anonymity.

      We may pride ourselves on anonymity, but the rampant fraud has created a very big economic incentive to rid the web of this precious anonymity. When you create an extraordinary economic incentive to perform an specific act, please, don't be surprised if the act occurs.

      Fortunately, I learned to never purchase through online auctions on a $10 purchase.
  • by Dephex Twin (416238) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @11:56AM (#3323814) Homepage
    Merchandise that was ordered online but was never paid for or shipped accounted for 20 percent of complaints last year, the IFCC said.

    Isn't there some way to work out a reliable escrow service that can act as a middleman for these types of transactions (if desired)?

    Otherwise, I don't see a way that this could improve. There's scam artists out there. The Internet is the ultimate place for anonymity. Even a smart consumer could get tricked.

    mark
    • Ebay, and probably others, offer an escrow service. The problem is it's just not worth the cost for a $20 item. Works great if your buying art or something of the sort though.

    • Even a smart consumer could get tricked.

      ...or even a smart customer.
    • Isn't there some way to work out a reliable escrow service that can act as a middleman for these types of transactions (if desired)?


      It would seem that the courier companies are in a good position to offer this kind of service. They already have the more difficult delivery infrastructure in place.

      Mr A places order with Mrs B. Mrs B ships by Escrow Couriers, Mr A pays Escrow Couriers. When Mr A signs off the delivery Mrs B receives money. The fees for the service are just added to the delivery charge. Seems quite simple.
      • It would seem that the courier companies are in a good position to offer this kind of service. They already have the more difficult delivery infrastructure in place.

        Mr A places order with Mrs B. Mrs B ships by Escrow Couriers, Mr A pays Escrow Couriers. When Mr A signs off the delivery Mrs B receives money. The fees for the service are just added to the delivery charge. Seems quite simple.

        ObRant: I want my vi keys in Mozilla.

        The most risky transaction I heard about, was one my father in law conducted about a year and a half ago. He purchased a Lego 1978 USS Constellation. Really hard to find. This one was pictured with instructions, all the pieces, the box and even the poster that came with it. The catch was that the model was in Germany (IIRC). He won the auction at a lower price than it was worth because, presumably, no Americans wanted to deal with the overseas risk.

        He worked a plan out with the seller, and esentially sent the money order by Fedex, and when it was delivered, the Fedex guy also brought the box and shipping material. They packed the box together, as the story is told, and the MO was left at the seller's house and Fedex had the box with the model inside. The effective discount this model had on it was more than enough to pay for the extra TLC Fedex put into it.

        For Christmas 2000, I got a USS Constellation from my father in law and my wife. Complain about Ebay, the commercialization of religous holidays and globalization all you want, but I'll be enjoying my boat. And defending Ebay as a place where some decent people remain. If you're out there, and sold such an item to a guy in Texas, I'm enjoying this thing more than you could possibly imagine.

        • Just thought I'd share my own experience with buying stuff on eBay from Germany. I purchased a couple of hard-to-find video displays from a guy in Hamburg, and had only one real problem - somehow he got both my home and my work address on the package. I'd wanted it shipped to my home. Anyway, somehow it ended up at work. I work on a US Air Force base, and this was shortly after Sept. 11. I got a nasty call from the base mail center that they had a mislabeled international package for me that showed lots of weird wires and things on the x-ray machine and they wanted to know what the heck it was. Fortunately I was able to get it straightened out, claimed my package, and deprived the explosive ordinance disposal team of a suspicious package destruction.
      • It's called C.O.D. - Cash On Delivery. Most freight carriers will collect your money for you for a nominal fee. I think UPS and Fed Ex charge $6.00. Most buyers would probably be happy to pay the COD fee since they also wouldn't have to pay for the item until they received an actual package. However, the buyer would have to accept and pay for a package without being able to inspect the contents. This would make me a little nervous about handing my money over to the delivery person.

    • by MadCow42 (243108) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @12:05PM (#3323882) Homepage
      There are online escrow services, like iEscrow and even BillPoint (I think) that's promoted directly by Ebay.

      I've used iEscrow VERY happily for several high-dollar auctions ($2000+), and it's worked well. The drawbacks are there though... cost (they take a commission of course), processing time (it takes an extra week or two for the seller to get their money), and so on.

      The problem is that people don't put the effort into using these services, or don't want to pay for them. They're there, if you don't use them and get screwed, it's your own damn fault.

      MadCow.

      (one of the salesmen at our company got hosed for $2500 on a digital camera because he didn't use escrow... I can't really feel sorry for him either!)
      • so if i threw a brick through your window and robbed you, nobody should feel sorry for you because you could of bricked up the window?
        • No, that's not quite the same thing.

          Now, if you came up to me on the street (wearing a ski-mask so I have no way to identify you), and I gave you $1000 cash for item X that "you would run home and get for me right away", then you ran off with my money... that's the same thing.

          Throw a brick at my window if you want... just wear your bulletproof vest while doing it.

          MadCow.
      • Another escrow service people may want to check out is eDeposit (guess the URL, come on, you can do it! :)).

        Just so you know I'm not trying to spam, I did used to work for them (I have moved onto more interesting things). But they are a good company, and escrow for online auctions is all they do.
    • by turg (19864) <turg.winston@org> on Thursday April 11, 2002 @12:54PM (#3324163) Journal
      Merchandise that was ordered online but was never paid for or shipped accounted for 20 percent of complaints last year, the IFCC said.

      Now if only we could just match up the people who don't pay with the people who don't ship, the problem would be solved

  • If people who are willing to do scams and steal from others arn't afraid of being caught, and they arn't -- online, they will do those things.
  • by JZ_Tonka (570336) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @11:58AM (#3323827)
    "Just ask CowboyNeal about some of his fun with dealing with dealers in Hong Kong. "

    I really don't need to explain how shady that sounds, but one would think CowboyNeal would have learned, by now, that all those Chinese mail-order-bride scams were bound to catch up with him.

  • So this is the greatest number of complaints, rather than either the most people committing criminal acts, or the most damage incurred. Not so much of a big deal, ultimately. i'm almost sorry for the FBI, with so many other important demands on their attention.
    • Only two problems with your pity.

      First, the way the US is set up forces any interstate fraud issue onto the FBI. Your local police can handle intra-state complaints, but they have no jurisdiction once a problem crosses the state line. They can forward the complaint to the other state, but as a practical matter it will get bumped to the national agency with jurisdiction - the FBI.

      Second, we don't know that these are all small scams. A lot of scam artists have learned to keep each individual scam small (<$500, say) to avoid triggering local attention. It's only when you realize that it's a group working together that have scammed thousands of people that you discover this "small complaint" is actually part of a multi-million dollar fraud ring. And that is definitely large enough for the FBI's attention.

  • by realgone (147744) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @12:00PM (#3323841)
    In terms of percentages, this is actually a drop from the FBI's figures for prior year [ecommercetimes.com], when 64% of the complaints were related to auction fraud.

    On the other hand, it's nice to see that "suckered into paying good money for Daikatana" rose to 8% on the FBI's compaint list this year.

  • Gee, it's always been my life goal to help someone embezzle millions of dollars of ill-gotten money from a third-world country. They could feed the people, or they could build schools or infrastructure, but no, it's better that it goes in my pocket and that of the family of the ex-dictator.
  • by unformed (225214) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @12:04PM (#3323867)
    Start messing with 'e,. You've got their name and address. (Generally speaking, most of them give you a valid address, just never send) ... so start ordering magazines to their address, and select "Bill Me Later."

    Of course, it's a large amount of money you'll probably want to take legal recourse.

    Now, on the other hand, I knew a guy who's business was not sending this that he sold on ebay.

    Let me explain: First he'd steal high-tech componenets from the school, put them on ebay, sell them for a couple bucks, and then never send or answer his emails or whatever. He'd wait about a month, if they continues bitching, he'd go ahead and send the item, and claim it was originally sent to the wrong address, or whatever. If they simply stopped complaining, thwen he'd relist the item, and start the process over again....
  • by viper21 (16860) <scott&iqfoundry,com> on Thursday April 11, 2002 @12:04PM (#3323869) Homepage
    Wow, can anybody believe this? I never would have guessed. My best bet would be that 22.4% of the auction complaints were legit, and 22.4% of the auction complaints were directly linked with Stuipd buyers.

    Did I say Stuipd Buyers? Why Yes I Did.

    Let me give you an example. Completely hypothetical, of course.

    Say I were to sell something I no longer desire on Ebay. My goal is to get it out of my house, and recoup some of my investment. So I put it up for auction with a reasonable reserve. (This hypothetical item is a guitar that I haven't played in months)

    Somebody new to good old EPay wins my auction. Horray. I now have in my possession my new ebay friend's guitar. I will release it in to his custody after I recieve my 177 plus 50 shipping, for a grand total of 227.00. (Shipping guitars is a joke)

    A week goes by, the money order does not show up. My new ebay buddy informs me that he didn't budget his bills right, and can't afford the guitar now. He wants to back out of the auction, like I'm freaking Wal-Mart. He then understands that "Woah! I've entered in to a legally binding agreement, damn!". After informing my new ebay buddy of this fact, he agrees to send payment the next week.

    Another week goes by. My Ebay buddy again emails me that he is fiscally irresponsible. He forgot to pay his car insurance for 3 months, and is about to get cut off. Go figure. I hope the insurance company cuts him off. He asks me if he can just cancel this whole transaction. I told him No, because I'm out my auction fees and I will have to file a complaint against him. He threatens, since he has my address (I'm in Iowa, he is in Hawaii), that he knows where he lives and what goes around comes around. After a polite email back to him, he agrees to send me a money order in 2 weeks and then add an additional $50 for my trouble.

    Horray for me, but that doesn't begin to cover the time I've wasted on this transaction.

    So I get the money on a Monday. The guitar gets packed and shipped out on a Tuesday, signature required. He gets the guitar this past Monday. On Tuesday I get a nice email threatening that because I did not put brand new strings on the guitar for him, that he is returning it. I informed him that I am not a Guitar Center [guitarcenter.com] and that he can't realistically expect to receive a like-new instrument for the price he paid on Ebay.

    Nothing back from him yet, and I doubt that there will be. But I bet that you can add him to that 42.8% of complaints, if he can figure out how to dial a phone.

    I give up on ebay. Dealing with idiots is not worth the $$$.

    -S
    • by dillon_rinker (17944) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @12:20PM (#3323983) Homepage
      Dealing with idiots is not worth the $$$.
      Hundreds of thousands of retailers nationwide disagree with you.
      • Dealing with idiots is not worth the $$$.
        Hundreds of thousands of retailers nationwide disagree with you.

        Ah - but when it's your job it's a bit difference - you're paid to be nice to people.
      • Not true. I worked retail, in management for a while. We served anyone who came through the door and was reasonable. However there were a few cusotmers we wanted to go away and tell all their friends. Not many, but if we could get the "long hair hippie freaks" out we would do better buisness with those who are scared of such people.

        Most of the "long hair hippie freaks" are good people, perhaps better than our target customers. However they were not a target customer, and there are enough bad apples in that crowd to spoil the whole bunch.

    • Dealing with idiots is not worth the $$$.

      Join the club. One of the problems with Ebay is all the newbies and the people that will hide behind a computer screen. I had a laptop up for auction a few months ago and someone bid $3,000 for it. It was not worth that. When I did a search for all the bids from this person, I saw that he was overbidding on about 25 electronic items just making a nuisance of himself. His account was shutdown a few days later.

      The biggest problem is the lack of accountability. These people aren't going to go to a live auction in their towns, bid up on a bunch of auctions and walk out the door without paying. But they'll happily do the same thing on Ebay? Of course. What's the worse that could happen? Their account/email address will get banned. And 5 minutes later, they have a new Hotmail/Yahoo account and a new Ebay account to continue to cause problems. Ebay themselves are so slack when it comes to handling abuse that it's almost as if they condone it.

      The only solution I've come up with is to ban people with feedback ratings less than five or ten. It's not easy on legitimate new users trying to get a start, but I handle that by telling them to email me and discuss the problem. Also, Ebay doesn't allow you to automate it...so you have to watch your auctions like a hawk, especially towards the end. Best solution to deal with scumbags...
    • Sounds like you just dealt with a clueless dumbass. At times, it seems that there is a never-ending supply of those out there!

      I had a similar experience recently from the other side of the fence. It also involved a guitar purchase on Ebay. It was the first time the seller had done an Ebay deal so I was a little nervous about it. But, he was very communicative, sent the guitar with additional foam protection per my request, etc., etc. Turned out to be an excellent seller. When the guitar arrived, it had what I would guess were the original strings that were on it when he bought it. Totally corroded, greasy residue on the fingerboard. Really fairly disgusting. So, did I send him a nasty, threatening e-mail? No. I cleaned the fingerboard, changed the strings, and went on with life. Does this mean I'm not a 'stupid buyer'? If so, hooray for me, I suppose.

      The guy you describe sounds like he was just looking for a problem. And you're right, it's people like that who will impact these kinds of statistics with their unneccesary, self-centered whining. Which is not to say that there aren't legitimate complaints. What you describe just doesn't sound legit.

    • by aussersterne (212916) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @12:54PM (#3324164) Homepage
      I've had some problems like this. I sold a 9GB SCSI hard drive that way a couple of years ago. The auction listed it clearly as "9GB ST410800N full-height narrow SCSI hard drive" and stated "This hard drive requires a SCSI controller card and two drive bays; please know what you are buying!"

      Some lady wins the auction, I get paid, send the drive immediately and packed well. Later that week she e-mails me asking for my phone number so we can discuss some "problems" she is having. Wanting to provide good customer service, I give it to her.

      When she calls, I get an earful from some completely incompetent lady who wants her money back. Why? Because "Maybe you packed it well, but this thing looks like it was pulled out of some proprietary server 20 years ago! It's as big as a tank, no way it'll fit in my tower, and the connecter is wierd, it's like a centimeter too long and won't work in a PC!" I tell her that I clearly stated that it was a full-height SCSI hard drive and that it will work in any properly equipped PC. She responds with "I'm a licensed computer technician, bud, so don't try to scam me!"

      Next week I get a chargeback and a fraud investigation by my bank. She didn't bother to return the drive to me after getting her money back. Nice lady.
      • I had the same thing, was selling an old Sun monitor on Ebay, nice 21 inch color job with the little remote control. Well I posted it as a 21 inch monitor for a Sun workstation, including that it had a 13w3 connector and had the remote, and included a picture of the monitor with a closeup of the connector. Well some guy buys it, I ship it (cost like 50 bucks UPS, cause the damn thing wieghed 80 lbs). Well a week later I get a call cause it doesn't work with his PC, so I just told the guy hey, I told you it was for a Sun Workstation, you said you had one. He went off, about how I was scamming him, blah blah blah. I basically told the guy to F*** off and if he left negative feedback I would sue him for slander. Never heard from the dude again. My take on complaints is that most people are just morons and I bet a fair percentage of these complaints are because of how stupid people are.

      • Yes, I work strictly with Money Orders, PayPal, your bank, or credit card companies are very eager to hold your money and muck operations up.
    • My best bet would be that 22.4% of the auction complaints were legit, and 22.4% of the auction complaints were directly linked with Stuipd buyers.

      Did I say Stuipd Buyers? Why Yes I Did.

      Yep, you misspelled "stupid" not once, but twice. AND you misspelled it the same way! You'd better get your wires checked.
  • by tcc (140386) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @12:04PM (#3323872) Homepage Journal
    I thought he was only a voting option :)

    Seriously, I'm not surprised about the online fraud that we read once and a while. If you see people paying more on ebay for a used item (i.e. digital camera) than they would pay for a new one, it gives just a small hint on the IQ of some people.

    I'm not in sociology, but one thing is for sure, if people are misinformed about the price of the stuff they buy (and it's a lot of them), being naive and not doublechecking someone with 0 feedback or negative complaints sure won't help the cause. It's like leaving your porsche's doors unlocked on a street.

    Okay there are also those who got scammed by people with 6000 points like reported on slashdot a few weeks ago, but those are exeptions and you'd get more chances being ripped off with a used car dealer than this if you do everything that ebay recommend you to do.

    • I wound up paying 6 bucks more for a gps handheld then i would have paid on amazon. It seemed like a good price at the time, so what the hell, i paid a little bit more to a smaller busisness.
  • by Muddie (72996)
    Okay. So 47% of consumer complaints to the FBI were about Internet auctions, and 20% of that was complaints about merchandise that was never shipped or paid for. So, out of all the complaints, 27% of them are people that, I will assume, paid for items but never got them, or had to complain to get them or get a refund.
    This is all IFCC data, which pulled it's data from a pool of fewer than 50,000 complaints. This should tell you why percentages are bad and misleading. They don't state in the article anywhere (save for the very bottom) that these percentages are based on a sample of the total data, not the sum of the data itself.
    Maybe it should read, "Of a pool of 50,000 complaints from the total number, the percentages read..."
    [soapbox]
    Statistics are misleading. Just like those auctions you never take any precautions on. 5 steps back for eveloution. And for this, we keep euthenasia illegal in the U.S.?
    [/soapbox]
  • The FBI says internet auction fraud was the biggest source of complaints last year, according to the annual report by the Internet Fraud Complaint Centre

    Consider the source. If polled, I think that X10/java pop-ups would be the overwhelming complaint. When will mozilla have a java enable/disable button. It is currently too "required" to turn off so it would be nice to have a quick method of turning it on/off.
    • Internet auction fraud was the biggest source of complaints in all fraud involved cases...the X10/java pop-ups don't involve fraud...now, if we were talking about that top complaints of overall internet users, then we'd have another story...
    • That would be a marvelous feature. I wonder if someone could implement an IE thing to do that, too.

      I'm still waiting for Mozilla's much-touted "pop ups create new tabs instead of windows" feature to work.
      • Well, it works on Galeon, which is based on the Mozilla engine. I don't know why it would no work on Mozilla too.
        Ah, Galeon does have that JavaOn/Off button.
    • Galeon does. The
      • S
      ettings menu is just full of juicy goodness like that. You can turn on and off Java, JavaScript, popups, animated images, disable site stylesheets, and more, all from the menus.


      Sorry, had to go off topic there.

  • I've had problems with people not sending my stuff out, but all it really takes is an email. Ususally, you get the "Oh, I meant to send that out, but I lost your address." The majority of people are basically honest. Just 1)trust the user rating, 2)keep in constant contact (I sent it, did you get it, yada yada yada) and 3)don't bid on anything "illegal" -- what recourse could you have when they don't send you your DirecTV pirate card like they said they would.
  • hong kong (Score:2, Redundant)

    by cswiii (11061)
    Just ask CowboyNeal about some of his fun with dealing with dealers in Hong Kong.

    Well, that's what you get for bidding on that "Asian Massage + FREE Wife!!!" listing.
  • Check out my journal.

    One year ago I bid on something from a seller in Hong Kong, I had received items from the seller before, but this time they had taken the money and run, from me and many other bidders.

    After an article about the antique dealer in Michigan taking money and running, I saw the same item I had bid on appear again on ebay. I notified eBay, PayPal (whom I'd paid through) and finally used address information from previous transactions to notify the Hong Kong Police.

    Cut to the chase, after the weasel was hauled in and questioned I am awaiting the item in question to be mailed by registered letter. I have an inspector to correspond with should it not appear.

    Sometimes there is justice, but I've found it relies on not just a little bit of luck and sweat.

  • Just ask CowboyNeal about some of his fun with dealing with dealers in Hong Kong.

    I knew /. was starting to get hard pressed for money but I HAD NO IDEA !
  • Better Luck Online (Score:2, Interesting)

    by blankmange (571591)
    I have had much better luck online than I did using the old direct-mail/telephone model. I have purchased items, sent some of them back, and have had to resort to asking my credit card company to dispute the charges only once - online. The direct mail/telephone model was fraught with delays and companies who did not answer telephones, shipped wrong items, refuse to correct shipments, etc. I would like to see these figures of online fraud compared to good-old-fashioned mail fraud.
  • *Sigh* (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheGreenLantern (537864) <thegreenlntrn@yahoo.com> on Thursday April 11, 2002 @12:22PM (#3323993) Homepage Journal
    Why is this news? "Oh, gee, you mean this person I'm trying to buy something from, whom I've never met before, have no idea what his real address, phone number, or even his name may be, might be trying to rip me off?" You know, if people were conducting this transaction over the phone, or by snailmail, everyone would say, "Well Duh" and laugh at the person's stupidity. But it's on the Internet, so suddenly it's a major catastrophe and the FBI has to step in and save us.

    It's like all common sense flies out the window whenever any issue deals with the Internet in any way.
    • Re:*Sigh* (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dvdeug (5033)
      But it's on the Internet, so suddenly it's a major catastrophe and the FBI has to step in and save us.

      It's FBI's job to deal with interstate fraud. Of course they should step in when somebody is being ripped off via the Internet (or the phone or snailmail).
  • And that represents less than 1/100th of 1 percent of auctions.

    And this must be the end of the world.
  • An interesting statistic would be the number of people who have been defrauded online who are new/uninformed/shouldn't be online without supervision....
  • My guess is that all of this online auction fraud is taking place amongst all those hackers on IRC. So, if the FBI can infiltrate IRC, they can kill the proverbial two birds with one stone.
  • This is just one more nail in the coffin of industry "self regulation".

    Next up: taxing internet purchases!

    • In the US internet purchases are taxed, so is mail order.
      The fact that you don't report it just makes you a violater of tax code, and people like you will probably force some kind of immediate taxation which will raise the base cost of goods.
      • Aren't they specifically excluded from tax, thanks to the "Internet Tax Freedom Act" or whatever? Most mail order purchases are also tax-free if the buyer and seller are in different states.


        This is totally unfair, of course. (Whether you think sales tax or tax in general is good or bad doesn't matter: The point is that all purchases should be treated the same.) But then, so is much or the tax code.

  • by ephraim (192509) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @01:11PM (#3324285)
    Quite a few credit cards with online services now offer the ability to create a one-use-only credit card number. Some of these systems also let you choose a specific dollar amount and expiration date for the "card" you've created. The number is linked to your "real" credit card number so that all your charges show up on the same bill.

    The beauty of this is that if your generated number gets "stolen" by an unscrupulous dealer, you don't need to worry about it because the number will be almost useless!

    I'm honestly surprised that these services aren't advertised more widely, because they're probably one of the best ways to protect yourself against credit card fraud when dealing with unknown and far-away merchants. I know that American Express and MBNA cards have this capability, and I've heard rumors that Discover can do the same thing.

    /EJS

    • Quite a few credit cards with online services now offer the ability to create a one-use-only credit card number. Some of these systems also let you choose a specific dollar amount and expiration date for the "card" you've created. The number is linked to your "real" credit card number so that all your charges show up on the same bill.

      The beauty of this is that if your generated number gets "stolen" by an unscrupulous dealer, you don't need to worry about it because the number will be almost useless!

      I'm honestly surprised that these services aren't advertised more widely, because they're probably one of the best ways to protect yourself against credit card fraud when dealing with unknown and far-away merchants. I know that American Express and MBNA cards have this capability, and I've heard rumors that Discover can do the same thing.


      I've used both American Express Private Payments and Discover DeskShop in the past and my biggest complaint was that you could not set the expiraton...thus the expiration month/year would always be the current month and year and on many badly-programmed websites the merchant would simply reject it. It may be different now though.

  • Shesss. Duhh.

    News flash, this kind of stuff has been happening for years before the internet was even created. That's why we have things such as escrow services, collection agencies, etc.

    I highly advise using escow for sales on the net. Especially since places such as iEscrow will now process a credit card for you. ... it's like PayPay, but not evil and a pain in the butt.
  • You best bet for domestic purchases that are large is to involve the post office, send money orders via mail, and have all items sent via the same. In this case everything comes under the juridiction of the PostMaster General and Federal law. So you don't have to worry about prosecution over state lines and such cause the case is at the federal level. One the other hand if you use PayPal and UPS (or the equiv) you are stuck within the boundies of that, and with interstate commerce laws (which make prosecution much harder).
  • The internet is still much like the old west. It is lawless and wide open. If you aren't dealing with a known company you need to be extra careful.

    When you buy something at an online auction you should consider paying though a trusted third party. Basically the third party can hold your payment until you receive the merchandise.

    Have you ever noticed that if you put the word "The" and the acronym "IRS" together it spells "Theirs"
  • Just ask CowboyNeal about some of his fun with dealing with dealers in Hong Kong

    I'll bite.

    CowboyNeal, tell me about the fun with dealing with dealers in Hong Kong...

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