Ah, the joys of ebay…

So, I’ve been on an ebay kick of late, trying to sell crap I have been meaning to sell for a while as well as some stuff I just don’t use.

That went pretty well. Then, I got the itch to upgrade my laptop. But, in order to do that, I decided I needed to get rid of the two I already have.

Well, selling laptops on ebay is an entirely new adventure than selling anything else online. There are a number of scammers watching the laptops sales who either send you emails with sob stories, or worse, use the buy it now option on your laptop, then send you the same goofy story.

Every single one of these comes from a newly created ebay user with zero feedback. Often, the accounts were created the day they started sending questions. Buy it now bastards are the worst, because then I have to spend time fighting with ebay to get credit for the auction, then start over. Africa appears to be the ‘destination’ of choice, for whatever reason.

The technical term of what these guys are trying to do is called ‘phishing,’ where they are trying to get users to submit personal information for identity theft.

phishing – from webpedia

(fish´ing) (n.) The act of sending an e-mail to a user falsely claiming to be an established legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft. The e-mail directs the user to visit a Web site where they are asked to update personal information, such as passwords and credit card, social security, and bank account numbers, that the legitimate organization already has. The Web site, however, is bogus and set up only to steal the user’s information. For example, 2003 saw the proliferation of a phishing scam in which users received e-mails supposedly from eBay claiming that the user’s account was about to be suspended unless he clicked on the provided link and updated the credit card information that the genuine eBay already had. Because it is relatively simple to make a Web site look like a legitimate organizations site by mimicking the HTML code, the scam counted on people being tricked into thinking they were actually being contacted by eBay and were subsequently going to eBay’s site to update their account information. By spamming large groups of people, the “phisherâ€? counted on the e-mail being read by a percentage of people who actually had listed credit card numbers with eBay legitimately.

Phishing, also referred to as brand spoofing or carding, is a variation on “fishing,â€? the idea being that bait is thrown out with the hopes that while most will ignore the bait, some will be tempted into biting.

So, just for those of you wondering, here are the various emails I’ve gotten so far…

1) Hello seller, Am a Naval Officer, i will like to buy your laptop as a gift for my grandson,whose birthday is coming up,his on training to the American Embassy in Nigeria,since i need this for his birthday that makes it urgency needed,since his so crazy about this particular laptop,when i forwarded the page to him,I will like to know what you are asking for this laptop, I will be paying through bidpay money order, since it is faster and get’s approved in a maximum period of hours.so i will want you to advise the name and physical address where the payment should be sent to and a valid email address for confirmation transfer from bidpay. But before then,I’ll like to know how soon can it be ready for shipment. Can i offer you $1200 for this laptop???????? pls can you personally handle this for me??? reply expected

2) This guy used buy it now — he tried to buy 22 laptops in 30 mins

Compliment of the season to you. I am Patrick Vernon from VA,USA.But Presently i am leading a conventional church program in London. I saw your item advert on ebay and i’m interested in buying it for my daughter who is studying a Computer Science Course in the University of Lagos (Nigeria) and i will handle the shipment expenses.I will send you my personal fedex account number after the payment so that you can ship the item to her without paying any shipment fee. I will be sending you payment via PayPal,So kindly send me your (PAYPAL EMAIL ADDRESS) so as to immediately make out my payment to you. Make sure you get the package ready for immediate or next day shipment okay?.You can ship the item as soon as you receive the paypal confirmation mail. Expecting your reply so as to immediately make out my payment for this item purchase.Mail me back it’s urgent.

3) HELLO I GOT TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR ITEM THROUGH EBAY AND I WISH TO BUY IT FOR MY SON WHO SCHOOL IN AFRICA AND I WILL LIKE TO BUY THE ITEM FOR $900 AND I WHICH TO USE WESTERN UNION AUCTION PAYMENT (BIDPAY) TO PAY FOR THE ITEM AND I WILL LIKE TO HAVE YOUR FULL NAME,ADDRESS,PHONE IN OTHER FOR ME TO MAKE THE PAYMENT NOW AND UPON RECEIVING A CONFIRMATION/APPROVAL LETTER FROM WESTERN UNION THAT THE MONEY ORDER HAS BEEN APPROVED AND IS BEEN SEND TO YOU, I WILL LIKE YOU TO SHIP THE ITEM BY USA POSTAL SERVICE TO MY SON AND WHICH I WILL BE PAYING FOR THE SHIPPING OF THE ITEM TO SHIP THE ITEM BY USA POSTAL SERVICE WILL ONLY COST YOU ABOUT ($50-70) WHICH I WILL BE PAYING FOR INCLUDING THE PAYMENT FOR THE ITEM. I WILL BE SO MUCH HAPPY TO READ FROM YOU SOONEST. THANKS”””””””””””

4) Hi. I would like to send this unit to my friend to Russia. Please, provide me a cost of shipping to this place. USPS airmail 4 – 10 days or USPS Expres 3-5 days (you can check on usps.com) I can pay you today via PAYPAL.If I send money via paypal can you ship today? If you agree tell me the total price and provide you paypal email. shipping address: Country: Russia City: Saratov Zip/postal cod: 410012 Address: abonentskyi iaschik 915

5) Hello, With reference to posted item i saw on ebay.i saw your item and i really develop intrest in 1 or 2 of it because i will like to send it to my cousin schooling in Africa that will be celebrating is birthday this coming week.I will be paying you extra $80 over the exact cost of the item and let me quickly say, i will be ready to pay you $1000 for 1 which is without shippment fees.i will be ready to pay you through the means of Postal Money Order.If you are okay with this,get back to me with your full name and address and the amount of money to pay you with shippment fees to Africa in Nigeria..let me quickly estimate the shippment fees to Africa through DHL for the amount of $300..so the total amount of money that i will be paying you will be $1300 which is with shippment fees..mail me back as soon as possible with your informations like name and address so that i can have the money order sent to your address..i awaits your responce

6) I would like to purchase your item of 2 on behalf of a company client in South Africa.My client will be willing to make out your payment in form of a money order.Will you be accepting a money order? The Money order that will be drawn by my client would include the cost for shipping of this item to my client and my commission would also be included on the same money order.We shall solely be responsible for the shippment of the item. Please contact me asap via email for futher questions as regards this transaction . if you really show willingness in selling this item asap.Thank You and I am expecting your response asap. Regards.”

7) Dear Seller, Am Tolani i live United Kingdom, am writing you on behalf of your item you placed on EBAY. Am willing to offer you US$2000 for the item: 6776699408 I need the laptop very fast for my Daughter who school in Nigeria and she needs the laptop for her Final Year project in school but due to the Nature of my Job I won’t be Available to receive the Laptop here in the United Kingdom. so please I want you to send the Laptop Directly to her in Nigeria. Please make enquiry about the shipping cost to Nigeria by [FedEx Express 24-48 Hours Delivery]and get back to me with the shipping cost so I can make your Payment to you in full including the shipping cost. My Method of Payment is Western Union Bid Pay, which is a Money Order that will be issue on your name by Bid Pay and it will be send to you at your contact home address for delivery. Best Regards Tolani.

So, if you ever list stuff on ebay and see any emails that look like these, don’t bother to respond. The only thing you can do is forward the emails to ebay. Sometimes they catch them before you do (you’ll get a generic warning email about user xxx).

Getting around the buy it now guys is a little more tricky. The only solution that ebay presented was to add a “IMMEDIATE PAYMENT REQUIRED” flag on the auction itself. I guess that gives you the ability to relist the auction if the user has no intent on paying.

UPDATE 6/13/2005:

New emails!!!

8) “””””GOOD DAY, i am interested in the immediate purchase of this unit and will besending you (BIDPAY MONEY ORDER) WESTERN UNION AUCTION PAYMENT ,this is due to the fact that its demand is high in my store and so i will want to complete the transaction in a very timely manner.if you can do this, email me with your name, contact address and your phone number so that i can proceed with BIDPAY MONEY ORDER) WESTERN UNION AUCTION PAYMENT right away,And you shall also be the handling shipping with my shipping through DHL or UPS ,i will be expecting your reply”

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