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Ebay’s BIG problem with hacked accounts

October 1st, 2014

If you’re like me, you’re probably like the many millions of folks out there who only sell something on ebay once in a blue moon. Recently I decided to buy a new laptop and wanted to sell my perfectly good old laptop. I’ve sold things on ebay in the past, I have friends that have sold things on ebay in recent history, frankly it seems like the natural choice to make such a sale. I’m here to tell you that couldn’t be any further from reality!

I almost lost my laptop

Yes you read that right! My trust for ebay (which has now dropped to zero) was initially quite high; as I told you I’ve sold on there in the past and so have my friends. So when I listed my laptop which is in amazing shape and still has a good 16 months of warranty on ebay, I was enamored to find out it had sold by the next morning once listed! “Damn,” I thought myself, that’s got to be some of the easiest money I have ever made… Ebay had sent me some literature, which admittedly I read hastily, that made me think “hey, ebay is a trusted source…, and they want me to send the package right away…” Here’s what they said in part of an email “Access to funds from buyer payments will be delayed to promote successful fulfillment.” It’s been a while since I sold anything through ebay and my dumb ass went and shipped the package pretty much immediately in good faith. Now I did look over the profile of the person who allegedly bought my laptop and they had some decent feedback, but I didn’t look close enough at first.

Soon after I received notification from the alleged buyer I received an “eBay User Information Request”. This is where the buyer can ask ebay to divulge contact information of both the buyer and seller to both parties, stipulating the information should only be used for communication regarding the sale. GREAT – I’m thinking… This person is legit and wants to ensure I am too. So I promptly drop the laptop in the mail because I’m offering free shipping and I want to encourage this person to pay and get everything taken care of in a timely fashion.

Ebay’s label printing service sucked, because I had to pay for extra weight of the package once I got to the post office. Their label printing service estimated the weight of my package based on similar packages – FAIL. That was a drop in the bucket compared to what happened next though. I got a new tracking number at the post office and decided to send the new info to the buyer to let them know, plus there was a little voice inside me that was skeptical about how quickly the laptop sold. Well soon after I sent that mail, I get a response from the alleged buyer telling me to ship the package to Nigeria!

Hello,you have shipped to the wrong address because I want this item shipped out to my cousin in Nigeria.here is the delivery addressDavid Matthew
7. Capitol Road
Lagos State.

Again,you will have to go back to the post office and have it sent to this address am sending to you now,I will add you 150 dollar for the international postage.Please confirm this is your Paypal email (omitted for blog post) .I will send payment asap.Thanks

WHOA! My laptop is gone!!!

Immediately I rushed to the post office to reclaim my laptop, but it was already too late. It had slipped out of the local office and was on it’s way to the original address somewhere in Tennessee. At this point I had to pay roughly $30 out of pocket to have the post office put in an intercept request. It was a very painful process that I won’t bore you with, but suffice it to say you never want to have to put in an intercept request with the United States Post Office!

Right before all that I called ebay to get some advice – go to the post office and get the package they said. But also, while you’re at it, check off a bunch of silly things on your account to protect yourself in the future. Under Buyer Requirements I checked the following

  • Buyers without a PayPal account
  • Buyers with Unpaid Item strikes (Block bidders and buyers who have received 2 Unpaid Item strike(s) within 1 month(s))
  • Buyers in locations to which I don’t ship
  • Buyers with policy violation reports (Block buyers who have 4 Policy violation report(s) within 1 month(s))
  • Buyers with a negative feedback score (Block buyers who have a feedback score of 1 or lower.)
  • Don’t allow blocked buyers to contact me.

What you are about to find out is that these settings did NOTHING to prevent another fraudulent purchase attempt. Eventually I did get my laptop back through the post office, though they were dumb enough to ship it all the way to Tennessee before intercepting it (this after assurances they would catch it before it hit the air).