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Profile of an eBay Scammer 401

prostoalex writes "FastCompany is running an article about Jay Nelson, whose primary income source for about 5 years included selling goods on eBay. Considering that he chose to skip the delivery, the profit margins were at an all time high. Under the names of biggerthanu, harddrives4sale, diamondsoft, yoshiinc and susancutey Nelson would collect five-digit PayPal payments from the buyers on eBay and Yahoo Auctions."
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Profile of an eBay Scammer

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  • Theft or no... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by The Only Druid ( 587299 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @03:33PM (#6713491)
    I'm not saying this guy didn't steal a tremendous amount of money, but I'm shocked he was able to perpetuate such an series of thefts. Isn't this the purpose of the eBay rating systems, etc.?
    • Re:Theft or no... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by eclectro ( 227083 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @03:38PM (#6713510)

      I really don't think we will know the true depth of ebay scams, unless there is legislation to make it public.

      If that were to happen, ebay sales would decline drastically.

    • Re:Theft or no... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by alexre1 ( 662339 )
      Yes, but he did use many different IDs.

      And I suppose there are ways to circumvent the ratings systems. What if he made a BUNCH (say like 100) accounts, and sold items to himself - he'd then be able to give himself really good ratings.
    • Re:Theft or no... (Score:5, Informative)

      by theNote ( 319197 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @03:39PM (#6713518)
      You obviously didn't bother to read the article.

      It goes in depth on how he rated himself with multiple screen names and used various other techniques like buying inexpensive items from others with fake mailing addresses.

      I love the image of the postal inspectors carrying guns. Reminds me of the accounting division of the FBI that walks into the accountants office strapped with a piece.
      • Re:Theft or no... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Jhon ( 241832 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @05:16PM (#6713942) Homepage Journal
        One of the interesting things I found about the article was the listing of some of his "usernames". I checked my ebay transactions a while back and found I had one with one of his accounts. I had received a broken proxim wireless modem. I mean broken -- it rattled, the case was cracked etc.

        I looked at his feedback and checked on some of his older positive feedback transactions and found that the pay-pal link was identical to the one I had purchased from. I sent a mail to THAT user saying basically "You are [BLANK] I know this because the paypal links on both user's auctions point to the same account. How about you either refund my money or send me a working item and I let this go".

        He said he was the BROTHER... blah. I think the idea of getting reported scared him enough that he sent out a WORKING modem.

        Moral of the story: If it's an item that's going to cost you more than what you can comfortably lose, check the old feedback for anything suspicious -- like identical paypal links, a lot of 1 or 0 feedback bidders (shills), and even how LONG the account has existed. One month? Two? A few years? The longer an account has been around with a decent amount of feedback are USUALLY good indicators.
        • Re:Theft or no... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by rainer_d ( 115765 ) *
          The longer an account has been around with a decent amount of feedback are USUALLY good indicators.

          Except for the "few" cases where the account has been hijacked.
          In Germany (, we've got lot's of persons from GB, Spain, Romania "selling" expensive goods (plasma, G4-powerbook) very cheaply under accounts originating from the US.

          "Greed eats Brain"


    • Isn't this the purpose of the eBay rating systems, etc.?

      Well, Slashdot's system gives good ratings to the majority of the people with something interesting to say. And you can just set your system up to block off most of the AC's. But then there's the few devoted trolls who sign up for 12 different accounts, jack them up to excellent karma, and then go posting goatsex links on every post they can until someone cuts them off. It doesn't happen often, but...

      ...Oh yeah, please mod this up so that I ge
  • And for 5 years... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Spoticus ( 610022 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @03:34PM (#6713494)
    law enforcement did what exactly?

  • If this guy had done the exact same thing for 10 billion dollars, lying about stocks on the exchange as he drove a company into the ground, he would be considered an investment guru would be free.

    Let's see who damages the economy more:

    Ken Lay, Robert Smith, Carl Icahn, Nassar, or this guy, and which of the above is going to jail? :-)

    • by mc6809e ( 214243 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @04:40PM (#6713746)
      If this guy had done the exact same thing for 10 billion dollars, lying about stocks on the exchange as he drove a company into the ground, he would be considered an investment guru would be free.

      The difference is, when investors and shareholders are ripped-off, it's decided that it was just "a risky investment".

      People have much less sympathy for capitalists than they do average Joes. This guy ripped-off average Joes so he gets hammered.

      CEO's are just well-paid employees taking money mostly from rich capitalists.

    • If one person it ripped off, that's a tragedy. If one million people are ripped off, that a statistic.

      I guess the only moral of the story here is that if you are going to rip people off, do it for a couple of million at a time, not a couple of hundred.

      Though looking at what this guy managed to steal, $200 grand? Over 5 years that's $40k a year. And he is going to rot in jail for 6 years.

      What a complete idiot.

      If he had put a fraction of that brainpower used to scam people into LEGALLY scamming people he'd have made $200 million and not be facing any jail time at all. Look at Microsoft. One of the biggest companies in the world sells licenses to use software. Look at the RIAA. They pay artists peanuts to gouge consumers for recordings of them playing.

  • Way to go Paypal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Shdwdrgn ( 162364 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @03:38PM (#6713514)
    Considering all the horror stories I've read on, this story somehow isn't as shocking as it should be. How is it that people like this continue to operate, when legitimate merchants are getting screwed out of their cash?
    • by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @08:57PM (#6714700) Homepage Journal
      So what is Paypal supposed to do? Absorb all your loses?

      Yeah, I know, that's what banks do on credit card transactions. Because Federal law says they have to. But before you decide that the law should cover Paypal too, consider how much banks charge for credit card transactions. Plus they rake in huge amounts from interest and client fees. If they didn't have these huge income streams, they couldn't afford to obey the federal law -- and credit cards would be a lot harder to get.

      Which wouldn't be a bad thing, come to think of it.

      I find this quote from the article very telling:

      "Until the day I got caught, I thought that no one had lost money," Nelson insists, explaining that he had thought that his buyers would be able to get their money back from PayPal or their credit-card companies.
      That neatly expresses the it's-somebody-else's-problem attitude of modern consumers. If the cost of something isn't something that directly and conspicuously affects them, then the cost doesn't exist. Sorry, a market economy doesn't work that way.
  • by popo ( 107611 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @03:48PM (#6713550) Homepage
    What's really incredible is that this doesn't happen more often. How many times have I bought things on eBay from "New" mercants? (ie: merchants with no reputation score). Most frequently its for low-dollar items -- so its no big deal anyway. But for all I know its a scammer creating his latest false-ID.

    I've yet to be ripped off though.

    But even if all buyers diligently checked the reputation of their sellers, how easy is it to have multiple logins and create a "false reputation" for yourself as a seller?

    I'm always amazed that eBay works as well as it does...
    • by satellite78 ( 622838 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @04:07PM (#6713627)
      how easy is it to have multiple logins and create a "false reputation" for yourself as a seller?

      you can have an ebay id for every email address you have. however, the biggest scam currently on ebay involves stealing other people's good reputations by gaining access to their account and then posting high dollar auctions - laptops, digital cameras, etc. a huge majority of these will ask for payment via western union to a foreign nation. people who are only checking feedback are continually scammed by these people.

      your best protection (as a buyer) is to pay for any auction with a credit card via paypal. ask your seller a question before you bid. their answer will help reveal if they are the kind of person you want to deal with. check their history. did they sell 100 widgets for $1 and then suddenly list a plasma tv?

      i would also suggest any buyer check out the trust and safety forum in the community section. a quick read of the latest messages will alert you to the current scams and help you avoid them.
      • by afidel ( 530433 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @05:00PM (#6713867)
        This is exactly why I haven't used eBay since they bough PayPal. Before PayPal they had a service where I could directly place the funds in escro using my credit card. This worked well and the people who had the accounts that accepted this were generally merchants who did enough volume and had enough invested in their account that they were not going to defraud you. Sure it kept out some small sellers, but the things I looked for were generally auctioned several times a week, not once a year so being a bit more choosy about the vendors I dealt with wasn't a limiting factor. PayPal on the other hand has basically no anti-fraud protection mechanisms, and as you can see on often abuses the victim rather than the perpetrator of the crime. Until PayPal is regulated as a banking entity or eBay brings back a real escro system I will not be using it.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Thats the thing hey. You just said it, you have yet to be ripped off.

      I've been on eBay for probably almost 4 years now, and I enjoy it but I've been ripped off basically 3 times. The mentality is that people get ripped off but there are drones in lineups with their money in there hands asking for the same shit.

      I'm all for eBay creating something that can cause more security for buyers, or a better authentication system. I'm ALSO all for more, and I mean MUCH more law enforcement intervention.

    • If most ebay scammer stories are anything to go by, sellers with no feedback are not scammers. Scammers generally will perform legit tasks or use dummy accounts to raise their feedback before scamming.
    • In this case, even checking out the merchant's reputation would not have helped. He bought cheap things, sent the money, and had them delivered to a fake address. All this so he could boost the reputation. Then he would start scamming until the identity got suspsended. Then he would do it again with a new identity.
  • Over the past few months, I've been trying to clean out my Cupboard of Random Tech to sell some old mobile phones, a couple of laptops, and some miscellaneous techy things.

    Usually I have to re-list an item 3 or 4 times before it sells, because people will bid, win, and then simply disappear off the face of the Earth.

    Also, the number of e-mails I get asking if I can ship to some obscure country where credit card fraud is thriving is very high.

    eBay needs to find some way of beating the scammers to survive.
    • After watching eBay auctions for a while, I notice that a lot of sellers just plain flat out refuse to ship outside the U.S. Some of them add comments that they do this because of credit card fraud.
    • Also, the number of e-mails I get asking if I can ship to some obscure country where credit card fraud is thriving is very high.

      I heard about someone who counter scammed. He accepted their cheque. Delayed for a while, asked for an extra fee for some made up reason via Western Union, and after the cheque failed to clear, refused shipment until the scammer sent the money.
    • Hah! Ebay is THRIVING in the current atmosphere... IF they could find a way to beat the scammers, they would just EXPLODE... I bought EBAY stock at $55 against my better judgement a year or so ago..(their p/e was too high for my comfort) and lookie! its over $100 now. I just can't imagine if they could get rid of that albatross of fraud, then they would be bigger than MS.
    • by Politburo ( 640618 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @04:30PM (#6713716)
      eBay needs to find some way of beating the scammers to survive.

      EBay already has a system. Don't sell internationally, and use ONLY USPS money orders. That way, if you have a problem, you have a real address to go off of, though this still may not be much help.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 16, 2003 @07:37PM (#6714447)
      In my experience as a long time sellar on eBay, since 1996, there are certain categories which attract "scum." Computer hardware/software, video games, jewelry/watches, toys (especially Transformers) and worst of all consumer electronics.

      When I do get a non-paying bidder, I follow the eBay guidelines, eventually get a refund on my fees and relist the item. I require the buyer pay postal insurance on all items over $ 20 to guard against the "item never arrived" excuse.

      As I see it eBay has no incentive for guarding against non-paying bidder fraud. Most sellers won't complain so eBay makes double when the item is relisted.
  • Ebay should take the credit card number of any user that sell stuff on Ebay and if doesnt deliver the property then they should charge him and give a refund to the buyer.
    • by Stubtify ( 610318 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @03:55PM (#6713575)
      The problem in doing that is that you will then have a whole group of people who claim they never got their goods and end up ripping off the legit sellers. Its a screwed up system in the first place because of its anonymous nature.
    • I thought Ebay already requires a checking account to be a seller. At least they asked me for one, that's why I haven't sold anything yet.
    • by fishbowl ( 7759 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @04:09PM (#6713641)
      The thing that stuck out in the article for me, is that the perp believed the people he swindled would have gotten their money back. I would have thought so too. What's implied here, is that they did NOT get their money back -- even with the perp admitting the crimes and going to prison!

      I'm pretty sure I'd be screaming bloody murder at this point, if I'd been a victim. I'd want to be reimbursed before his lawyers got paid, that's for damn sure.

      I do a lot of ebay buying, mostly for used pro-audio equipment (I am a musician). Anyway, the one experience I had with a seller was just "almost" a problem. I bought an instrument on an auction that happened to be in the the same town as me, and when I went to pick it up, the guy told me he was still considering selling it to someone else. Since the deal went ok otherwise I didn't press the matter, but I was really insulted for a minute.

      Ebay may have it's fraud, but I've had consistently good luck. I go for realistic deals and stick to either sellers that have good feedback profiles, and stay away from too-good-to-be-true deals.

      On the other hand, I've heard several first-hand reports from people who got straight-up ripped off by the lowest-price vendor on a pricewatch search. Pricewatch continues to list vendors who are well-known swindlers. I think they should share the responsibility for the fraud. As in, be tried with the fraudsters as co-consipirators. RICO violations will get you a lot more than six years...

      But the buyers didn't get their money back? That's not ok.
      • You have to be careful on places like Pricewatch. I love Pricewatch and I use it all the time but you just have to learn to not always trust the lowest-priced seller. For example Computer Giants always has the lowest price on hard drives. They also have an unbelievable failure rate. Check out Computer Giants on I'm one of the people that gave a nasty review on them. The cheapest places aren't always the best. Pick a handful of good vendors and stick with them, even if they charge
        • One scam I've noticed on the real low-priced vendors selling IDE hard drives via Pricewatch is selling either OEM drives, intended only for use as part of a name-brand PC, or selling the drives received as RMA replacements from defective drives.

          Many people don't realize it, but whenever you send off a hard drive that's under warranty for RMA replacement, your replacement drive you get back is only warrantied for the remainder of the warranty the original unit had. Some vendors will sell these replacements
  • by Stubtify ( 610318 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @03:52PM (#6713570)
    Well I've never been burned for a large amount of money, I have had items for under $20 become "lost" in the mail. I find it hard to believe that in the 20 years I've used the postal service I've never once had a piece of mail become lost, yet ebay sellers seem to magically have trouble in this area.

    It pisses me off too because they know that for $20 or less its not worth my trouble to do anything. Plus they can send negative feedback regarding the transaction if I do the same. I know I've been burned and still ended up with negative feedback against myself as "retaliation." The Feedback system in ebay needs to seriously be reworked. As the article states the seller could buy a hundred stamps for a dollar and have a great rating and then just rip everyone off.

    The only way that I can recommend giving yourself a little extra security is to Always pay for the damned insurance. At least then when they say its "lost in the mail" you can say "ok fill out the form and get the money back to me." Then you could take things further up the ladder if you don't get anywhere. I really think that most sellers know this and that is why they use non insured auctions as a way to take extra money.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Here's another tip: read the whole auction. I got burned for $10 on a game guide. Got sent an email instead. I was pissed but the original auction did say that I was getting a link to a guide, not the actual guide.

      The thing that really pissed me off about it was he sent me a link to Too lazy to even do a little deep-linking, the ass.
    • by Punk Walrus ( 582794 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @04:03PM (#6713611) Journal
      I have made multiple eBay purchases (like 60) and only been conned once. And like the article, it was a Dutch auction, for a $20 Lego set. I got contacted by other bidders about a month later, and I hadn't gotten my set, either. We went to the account, and it was closed, but still had not one negative rating out of 350. A member for 2 years. I never saw it coming.

      eBay and Paypal didn't care, and this didn't really shock me. I mean, the guy (or gal) made $600 in $20 increments. I just chalk it up to 'Caveat Emptor,' and honestly, item for item, I have been conned more in garage sales and flea markets with a lot less purchases, so eBay is still okay with me.

      • There was a scam in Washington. I forget the name of the company, but basicly they auctioned computers and used a diffrent account to bid outlandish prices so no one wins. In turn, they then offered to sell the same system to other people who bid on the item at the price they bid. Got sent money, but no system. Couldn't actually complain on e-bay because the auction happened outside of e-bay. They did eventually get caught, but it kinda shows how painfuly easy it is to get postal money orders sent to a
        • by Punk Walrus ( 582794 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @07:21PM (#6714376) Journal
          Yeah! I have been fished for that on eBay, but never bit. For me it was always something to do with rare rock memorabilia and stuff (why? dunno...). I read about some guy who does this to get the maximum amount of money he can for multiple items. Here's how it goes:
          1. Say you have 10 "rare posters" of Bob Dylan (or at least claim you do) at some concert in the 1970s. Put one for auction.
          2. Top bid a few minutes before end is $100. Record all bids, get e-mails for all bids.
          3. Have a buddy sniper bid on it for $1200, auction ends.
          4. Wait one week. You know the most someone will pay for the posters by their high bids. Send e-mail to all bids, stating the top bidder backed out, and how mad you are, because you're a regular working Joe, etc, etc... To the first guy say, "I'll sell it to you for $90, $10 lower than your high bid, because I know this is outside eBay and all..." Hope he bites. The second highest bidder, do the same thing, with $10 off his bid, and so on down the line.
          5. Now you can send them the posters, send them misrepresented crap, or send them nothing. The official eBay policy won't cover what goes on outside their realm.
          6. You and your sniper buddy leave positive feedback for each other. Repeat.

          Nice scam, mostly illegal, but again, if you nickel and dime a ton of people who are too embarrassed, too lazy, or just won't bother to complain, you'll get rich slowly (or not, I have no idea if this works for a long-term plan). This especially works for low-end items where you guess your clientele are not too bright or have enough resources or perseverance to complain, like emo/punk clothing, "Spring Break" videos, "How to Get Di$$$$counted $$$$oftware!" promotions, and so on.

          I have heard, though, to never piss off Beanie Baby collectors... they can be mean and tenacious.

    • by PReDiToR ( 687141 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @04:39PM (#6713743) Homepage Journal

      eBay buyers and sellers are retarded in that they consider a deal done as "A++++++++++" rather than as a normal transaction that went OK and they paid for something and came away with it.

      When was the last time you went into McDonalds and bought a burger, then proceeded to scream to everyone on the street "HEY!!! LOOK! THEY SOLD ME A BURGER A++++++++++++ BUY HERE AGAIN!!!!!" or something equally as stupid?

      Neutral for every day "won, paid, recieved" and Good for "won, paid, mess up, fixed, got goods even though someone was moosing araound with us" or "came second, emailed, paid, recieved second set that were going to be auctioned next week".

      Or is this too much of an ass kissing world where we expect to get ripped off online that if we don't we feel the need to stroke the guy who didn't even think of ripping us off with a long list of A+++++++++++++'s?

    • Prime example:

      I just bought a 13w3->vga adaptor from clapro (ebay id). it was $12 with shipping. I have since called and emailed him multiple times and he always has a lame excuse (isp was down, paperwork missing, no record of me paying, etc) and he always promises to call or email back when this is sorted out. Well, it has been a month and a half since I send the money to him via Paypal (I also sent him my email reciept). He has never returned an email and has never called me. Obviously I have not gott
    • The only way that I can recommend giving yourself a little extra security is to Always pay for the damned insurance.

      Or you could try buying only from people in your area, and insisting on meeting them in person for the transaction. That's what I do. This should work for relatively generic stuff, though of course unique or hard-to-find items may not be available locally.
    • by scottj ( 7200 ) * on Saturday August 16, 2003 @06:51PM (#6714268) Homepage Journal
      I once sold $5-$20 items on eBay for a period of six months. I have NEVER seen so much lost mail. I was the seller. I'm an honest guy. I shipped the product out as soon as I had the payment EVERY time. And when there were reports of lost mail, I always shipped another free of charge.

      I can't help but think that it's the buyers half of the time. I know the USPS isn't that unreliable. These people were just taking advantage of the system. It works both ways.
    • by Spunk ( 83964 ) <> on Saturday August 16, 2003 @08:02PM (#6714530) Homepage
      True story:

      I bought a video adapter for $16 on Ebay a few weeks ago. I didn't pay insurance, and the guy claimed it was lost in the mail. A scam, you say? Judging from his zipcode, my zipcode, and the date, it was actually quite plausible: a truck carrying mail from his area to mine got into an accident and the mail was destroyed. It was in NC and featured in the local newspapers, but sadly I can't find a link at the moment.

      In the end, he refunded my money, even shipping. yay!

      Excellent Ebayer. Would do business with again. A+++++++
  • eBay is a joke (Score:5, Interesting)

    by whereiswaldo ( 459052 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @03:57PM (#6713587) Journal
    Don't forget to read the sidebar []

    One area where eBay has gotten consistently high marks is in collaborating with law enforcement.

    "We treat law enforcement [agencies] like a customer," Chesnut says. "We make sure that they get the information they need to fully and fairly investigate cases." And eBay leverages its experience with serial auction fraud - like the Jay Nelson case - to try to figure out how it can prevent future occurrences.

    "Resting on our laurels isn't something that crosses my mind," Chesnut says. "I'd sure like to have the reputation of being the worst place on the Internet to commit fraud, because we're going to come after you, and you will go to jail."

    If they treat law enforcement as a "customer", then law inforcement must have a lot of unreturned emails and automated replies.

    I challenge anyone to find a conspicous mention anywhere on the EBay site where you can phone and talk to someone about someone defrauding you money.

    I've lost over $200 on EBay and have all the evidence in the world but EBay will not do anything about it or even acknowledge the problem by sending a human-generated response.
    • You have his address right? I don't think anyone would fault you for sending $200 worth of unpleasent thing to his box.
    • Re:eBay is a joke (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      When I worked for an, um, "major online auction house" there was no call center, so there wouldn't be anyone to take your calls there at all. The resources just didn't exist in the company.

      Everything was done by email and like most "customer service" and "technical support" these days, they have to send you canned responses several times before you'll get special attention paid to your case. Employees were rated on the number of email responses they sent every hour, not on the level of service they provide
  • by Stonent1 ( 594886 ) <stonent@stonent ... t c l a r> on Saturday August 16, 2003 @04:01PM (#6713605) Journal
    I bought a few DIMMs for one of my SparcStations. A week or so passed with no items. I contacted the seller and he gave me the date that the item was shipped. A few days later I got a sticker on the door saying my item was at the post office. I went there and they said someone filled out the wrong form. They meant to send me a form saying my item could not be located. I went back and forth with the seller with him supposedly going to his post office and complaining. Still not knowing if it was ever going to come. About 2 months later the packaged arrived with the original shipping postmark. Pretty good for "Priority" mail.
    • I was selling a video card for a friend on eBay, and someone writes me from Spain, saying she's starting a computer shop in Amsterdam or something and needs parts. She was completely insane, but I just chalked it up to the language barrier. I cancelled the auction so I could send her the card immediately and waited for her to transfer money to my PayPal account. I wasn't really concerned because I figured since I got the money first, what did I have to lose?

      A lot, it turns out. So she finally transfers
    • Speaking of bad post office experiences:

      A few years ago I got an illegal left-hand turn ticket at a poorly marked intersection. I sent in the request for trial and $644 in bail (!!!) to the City of San Francisco via certified mail, return receipt requested. It was delivered two months later, well after the deadline, and I received my return receipt around 400 DAYS (!) after my original mailing. Fortunately I've been burned enough by bad service that I always check up by telephone before important deadli
  • by Syncdata ( 596941 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @04:03PM (#6713613) Journal
    I like how the Postal inspector (Higgins) is trying to make this out into an epic battle between a criminal mastermind, and himself, a master-sleuth.
    Higgins had been on eBay once or twice, but he'd never bought or sold anything on the site. Working the Nelson case was "a fast learning process," he says. "It was like skipping 101 and going right to the master class."
    The perps ID lead straight to his home address. No PO box, no nothing.
    This is an example of how long some dumb punk can get away with a pretty simple fraud, not an example of investigatory brilliance. Hell, the guy had already been visited once before by a postal inspector.
  • by John Seminal ( 698722 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @04:09PM (#6713637) Journal
    Everyone thinks they deserve a good lifestyle simply for being born. The problem with these kinds of people is they are not willing to work for anything. Take the following example from the article:

    When he applied for a job as a Lotus Notes administrator at Caterpillar, for example, Nelson said that he had a degree in criminal justice and that he was familiar with Notes. "I got a copy of Lotus Notes for Dummies and learned enough of the buzzwords," he says. After three rounds of interviews, "they hired me on the spot," Nelson says. "I'd never even turned on the program." But he was a quick study, and he says that he was soon competent at creating and maintaining Notes databases.

    We have a society where people want to do the least amount of work, if any, to get the reward. And when they fail, they blame society and find ways to steal. Perhaps if people felt a sense of responsibility for what they do, we would not have these problems.

    • I think that statement says more about poor hiring practices based on buzzwords than an epidemic of people wanting to do the least amount of work. Although you could say that the "least work" ethic had spread to the HR dep't, causing them to hire the person that just "sounded the best" rather than actually investigating their skills.

      In any case, if he was able to perform the duties of the position, it shouldn't matter if he actually had the knowledge beforehand.
    • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @05:25PM (#6713969) Journal
      We have a society where people want to do the least amount of work, if any, to get the reward.

      Every kind of society had/has its share of shirkers; this problem is not particular to western or capitalist societies.

      What is particular for our type of society (and some other types) is that it wants its members to be succesful. The 'ideal' thing in our society is to do well in school, get a good job, get a nice raise and promotions from time to time, marry, buy a house and a good car, and live the good live. Those who do not attain this ideal may feel left out... in fact, their peers may start wondering about them. And this feeling may drive some people to turn to crime or unethical behaviour in order to attain the ideal... others may sit and moan about society being unfair.

      I've spent some time in the Dutch Caribbean, where no-one gives a toss about how much you make, how your career is progressing or what kind of car you drive. I must say it's been refreshing to live in a society where there is no constant pressure to perform. Then again, very few people there feel the need to perform, and thus not much gets done. The real question of course is: who lives the better (ie. more enjoyable) lifestyle? Us or them?
  • Interesting Story... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ihatesco ( 682485 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @04:23PM (#6713688)
    This reminds me of the morons that here in Italy try to sell on Usenet their warez crap, as if the internet isn't enough for doodz to find warez spending no money.

    Those idiots spam, spam, spam, and continue to fill the newsgroups with their sales and shit, even coming to harass people with curses and blasphemy. I wonder HOW Usenet in Italy is still widely used with all that shit pestering it.

    Luckily the Guardia di Finanza (Fiscal Police) regularly does a full clean sweep of morons selling on the newsgroups AND THEIR FUCKING 14yr old buyers (and supporters), like they have done with famous spammers (and scammers) Claudio Gaudino ( also known as "I would like to be like Goatseman") and Streetguy ( y+group%3Ait.comp.giochi.*)

    You are so unfortunate not to be able to read Italian... otherwise I would suggest you to read this site:

  • by linuxislandsucks ( 461335 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @04:25PM (#6713697) Homepage Journal
    So SCO can sell Unixware on eBay and not get prosecuted fro not delivery working goods?

  • by mwfolsom ( 234049 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @04:27PM (#6713703)

    One of the reasons Joe and people like him get away with this is that eBay doesn't care. They make it practically impossible to turn someone like him in to the "authorities". They know this is going on and turn a blind eye to the problem.

    If you get ripped off after an eBay auction there is a "system" called "Safe Harbour" you can go through to handle the situation. The dirty little reality is that its fairly difficult to deal with and is really designed to protect eBay from any liability while not adding to their workload in any way. There are time limits that get imposed on you in all sorts of ways and there is no human being to help you through the process. In short, it is more "apparent" than "real".

    Re: the feedback system. Again, its set up for eBay's benefit. There are limitations on the number of letters you can use in your feedback and you won't know if or when a seller responds to your complains. It requires that you constantly check back and counter any statements such as "it has been shipped - let me know if you have problems". Unless the buyer cares to continue to fight a war over the theft forever sooner or later whatever they say will be countered. And, remember that no person at eBay will ever bother to monitor a seller's feedback so even if you get lots of negative feedback there isn't any cost save a few buyers that might stay away. This of course is easily handled by "selling" great stuff cheap. Since you won't ever ship it anyway this isn't a problem.

    Finally, even if a seller builds up a bad "feedback record" this isn't much of a problem. He/she can just change their name and start all over again. eBay doesn't care.

    Frankly, my guess is that you can steal lots of money from people on eBay as long as you do it in small increments. The story only talks about the most blatant form of theft at eBay. What about those who knowingly ship defective merchandise and say its good? This happens a lot on eBay. Most people just can't spend the time to jump through the "hoops" eBay has set up to get money after it is stolen. And, the nasty fact is - even is you spend time on the "process" you may never see a cent of it!

    Remember, it is the seller who pays eBay so their customer isn't the buyer - its the seller! eBay gets its cut each time so as long as it doesn't hit the press and hurt sales it ain't their problem. eBay survives because most sellers are honest. If/when that changes it will be interesting to see what they do!
    • by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @05:27PM (#6713975) Homepage Journal
      I've seen comments like this before, and you do have a very credible point.

      Thankfully I've only been had 1% of the time, one time as a seller and one or two times as a buyer.

      The one time I was a seller, I sent DVDs in perfect condition and even put extra protection on each disc to prevent scratches, and padded protection surrounding each keepcase, in a box. In my opinion, the customer watched it, thought it sucked, scratched them (even _both_ sides of all discs) and then complained that the discs were bad and didn't work. Since I can't prove it, there wasn't anything I could do.
    • The thing is, most sellers *are* and will continue to be honest. For starters, a given percentage of the population has religious reasons to "do the right thing". Another percentage takes a certain pride in their reputation as a "fair and honest guy/gal", and that extends to "cyberspace" as well as the real world. Still others are just plain scared of potential consequences of their actions if they rip people off continuously.

      For these reasons, I don't ever see the status-quo of "most sellers are honest
  • by wahmuk ( 163299 ) <> on Saturday August 16, 2003 @04:28PM (#6713709)
    I just got an email last night, of the type where it appears to be from eBay (it's not) and it's asking for you to verify some information. The URL in the body appears to be a valid eBay address. And although the email appears to be plain text, it's actually HTML and the "valid eBay address" actually takes you to a non-eBay and non-secure IP address where you're presented with a poorly-worded form asking for name, address, passwords, PayPal username, password, credit card numbers, etc...

    All other links on the page go to the valid eBay "help" and "contacts" pages. It looks really official, except for the non-professional grammar.

    I wonder how many people fall for this type of scam every day?

    It wasn't even sent to the special email address that I use exclusively for my eBay account (my first clue, woohoo!).

    And yes, I've already reported it to eBay...

    Wot sez we demonstrate the SlashDot Effect(TM) for the thieving bastard?

    Here ya go: []

    • Mozilla is so smart it's protecting me from filling out the form. (Actually it's probably just a problem with the web page.)

      Anyway, why would any company need someone's online banking login and password? Sheesh, I really hope no one was stupid enough to fall for this thing. Then again, probably a lot of people have.
      • Here's some keys to the mistery code:

        The form goes to:
        "http ://"

        Then there's an e-mail reference in a hidden field:
        input type="hidden" name=".email_target" value=""

        (Had to unescape() some JavaScript, then shove a bunch of junk though a function called v(). Embedded in the junk was more javascript, html and form fields that seemed to not be associated with any form -- until one reads the JavaScript.)

        Talk about elaborate...

        Have fun
    • being the geek that i am i hit view source for that page. it's all one long javascript string, completely obfuscated. very interesting indeed. meta content generator says frontpage, though. i'd like to slashdot the server the actual script sends to. this person appears to be smarter than they appear. just a sec, lets see here.... here we go, page properties courtesy of mozilla firebird. form method = post, action = unfortunately no apparent hidden field for the
      • by Anonymous Coward
        After learning my first bit of JavaScript, I was able to extract these goodies:

        <form method="POST" action=" cgi"> <INPUT TYPE="hidden" NAME=".email_target" VALUE="">

        When will people stop locking their keys in their car and thinking it's safe?

      • I poked around a bit too. Peeling back the URL to the root, you get what looks like it is probably an unpatched install of RedHat 6.x. The scammer probably rooted it, and is using the mail gateway to relay form results to himself. Someone already decoded the email address from the mess of Javascript, so I won't go into that.

        Rooting a default RedHat 6.2 install and finding an exploitable cgi mailer isn't much of a challenge, there are rootkits out there, so the simplest explanation is so

    • Great name for the directory: ebayDLLupdate

      He knows that when most people see "DLL" their eyes glaze over and they do whatever they're told to. It's easy to get people to click OK and change their homepage, but getting people to put in their bank routing number and pin number takes big brass balls. That said, I think we should draw and quarter this guy. People would probably think twice about online scams if there was a real threat that they would get torn limb from limb.

  • by zo219 ( 667409 ) * on Saturday August 16, 2003 @04:38PM (#6713739) Homepage
    The point is, Ebay has figured out a way to make zillions while steering all possible risk to the consumer. This is genius. Unlike any other business I can think of. Sure, shopping on Ebay has changed - you can't move an inch without being cautioned to Know Your Seller and similar worthless crap.
    It's gotten even more specific: don't buy from sellers who demand wire payment. Who refuse escrow. And above all, rest assured, your purchases are protected up to a big fat $200. I have this incredible idea - but no one at Ebay seems interested. How about, don't give sellers the option in the first place to list high-ticket items without escrow service? How about that? And "Feedback?" Clap your hands three times if you believe in Feedback. I figured it out. Ebay uses their customers for friggin' scam triage. I came across new Powerbooks at absurd prices, sent inquiries - and heard from five different guys. In Spain. At the same address. Special deal. Wire money first, please. Emailed Ebay - next morning, all gone. Fine - but try finding the form to email Ebay. The least, the very, very least they could do is a small "report suspect listings" button. A "community." "Built on trust." Sure, Meg. Need another wheelbarrow? or does the bank come to you.
    • There is not much difference between buying something off Ebay than buying from someone selling something on Usenet or the classifieds in your local paper. People are getting scammed everywhere, Ebay, usenet, classifieds, regular ads from what appear like legitimate businesses or at the street by someone with a "special price for you".

      By making things easier for buyers and sellers, they've made it easier for scammers too.

  • by Nate Fox ( 1271 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @04:41PM (#6713749)
    One day at Disney World, Nelson met a Disney employee. She eventually moved into his motel room. He told her that his wife had been killed in a car accident and that he was a special agent with the Department of Justice. Nelson said that because of the types of cases he was working on, the agency had had to move him out of New Hampshire for his own safety -- and that she shouldn't tell anyone that they were living together.

    He got that from True Lies [], huh?
  • oh yea.. ebay's doing a terrific job at stopping fraud. ha! Check out my web page I errected about fraud that happened to me. Did ebay seller protection help?.. no because I recieved an item,... no matter that it didn't work at was fraudulent and was in some sort of house fire!

    reply to this.
  • Positive (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 16, 2003 @04:58PM (#6713852)
    great article, nicely written, very informative, will read again!!!! A++++++++++++++
  • by jesup ( 8690 ) * <randellslashdot&jesup,org> on Saturday August 16, 2003 @05:14PM (#6713928) Homepage
    In 97 or so, there was a scammer on EBay who was fleecing the Japanese sword collector community. He knew something about swords, and had done some real deals, but then started ripping people off - both not sending things and cashing money orders (this was before paypal/etc), and offering to repair/polish blades, taking the swords, and not sending them back. He was in the midwest at the time. People started to figure it out, and got together. He made the big mistake of ripping off a Deputy elsewhere in the midwest as well.

    He switched screen names and moved out of the town he lived in. He started scamming again under the new name, and I both identified him by his use of his real name to sign an email, and I proved he was using an image from someone else's website as the sword he was selling. We arranged for one of us (using a new screenname) to be the high bidder (the Deputy from KS). This gave us an address (Mailboxes/etc I think) in the northwest. He was arrested and forced to return about a dozen swords (and money I think), and I think was given a suspended sentence. He'd probably scammed on the order of $20-40K or more; one of the bigger ones at the time.

    Note: while I helped track him down, I was lucky and wasn't taken by him, so after he was caught I only heard a few random details.
  • by dodell ( 83471 )
    Guys like that make me fucking sick. I'll save you a 10k rant about that, and just say "Bah." They should cut his fingers off.
  • is apparently missing the single biggest change ebay made to prevent people like this guy from building up positive feedback:

    they separated buying feedback from selling feedback. now to get +50 selling, you actually have to sell 50 items, not just buy a bunch of paperbacks and give a false address.

    of course you can still get positive feedback selling cheap items but it'll take you a few days now instead of a few hours.

    could ebay do more? probably. but at least they're not missing the obvious.
  • Ebay Scammers (Score:5, Informative)

    by draed ( 444221 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @06:00PM (#6714097)
    I got scammed out of $1,500 on ebay a couple months ago... I researched a bit on what my options where and filed complaints to paypal and ebay. Paypal found the seller guilty and was able to get me back a total of *50* dollars out of the $1,500.

    It's amazing how difficult it is to get anything done about online fraud.

    Anyways, in doing research, here is a very helpful site I found :!turk []

    and don't ever order from these companies : [] [] []
  • by StevenMaurer ( 115071 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @07:31PM (#6714418) Homepage
    I know this is a late comment, and so won't be modded up, but I had some constructive suggestions about what ebay could do to deter fraudsters without much additional cost. Chiefly this entails additional positive markings on feedback. To wit:
    1. Have a special "verified id" program.
    2. Make feedback based on the cash amount of the transaction.
    This would make it so that a buyer or seller would know there is a real person or business behind the transaction. Further, it would make it quite expensive to fake a good feedback rating because of the fees he'd have to pay to ebay. This would be a lot better for all involved, rather than ebay and legitimate users arguing over who should pay for the fraudsters abusing the system.
  • by MoxFulder ( 159829 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @07:41PM (#6714462) Homepage
    Okay, I buy computer parts and electronics and such on ebay from time to time. Generally $20-$200 items. It's usually a good deal. I've never had a bad experience, though I've passed up many a good deal from a seller with insufficient feedback.

    This is what I do:
    (1) check out seller's feedback, make sure they've sold similar things before. If they have less than ~50 positive feedback and any legit negative feedback, I don't bid.
    (2) ask seller a question about the item, something so they'll have to put a minute or two of thought into it and actually LOOK at the item.
    (3) if they respond in a timely manner, I can be fairly sure they actually have the item.
    (4) go ahead and make a SINGLE BID for the item
  • by Slur ( 61510 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @09:49PM (#6714882) Homepage Journal
    (1) Never ship anything until you receive payment in full.

    (2) Never pay for anything until the shipment arrives in good condition.

    Voila, problem solved.
    • My Solution (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Baron_Yam ( 643147 )

      I don't worry about the seller's rating - sometimes you can get something you want from a first-time seller.

      However, I only buy from people

      1. less than a two-hour drive from my house
      2. who provide a traceable phone number
      3. allow pickup.

      At least then I know I have a good chance of being able to show up at their doorstep and kneecap them if they rip me off.

  • by quick_dry_3 ( 112334 ) <steven@quicFORTR ... t minus language> on Saturday August 16, 2003 @10:20PM (#6714967) Homepage
    a Dungeons and Dragons character...

    "He was traveling with ... about $4,000 in gold and platinum coins."

    When stopped by the Feds did he warn them to back off he's a 7th level rogue with a +5 short sword of slaying?
  • Niave (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LowellPorter ( 466257 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @10:36PM (#6715016) Journal
    from the article"One day at Disney World, Nelson met a Disney employee. She eventually moved into his motel room. He told her that his wife had been killed in a car accident and that he was a special agent with the Department of Justice. Nelson said that because of the types of cases he was working on, the agency had had to move him out of New Hampshire for his own safety -- and that she shouldn't tell anyone that they were living together."

    Talk about a stupid woman. This is one of the oldest in the book.

To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire