Friday, July 22, 2011

Beware of eBay Trading Assistant Scam

I’ve seen this scam several times with my clients, and last week, they hit me. The scam goes as follows:

You will receive an email like this, usually from a web based email account like Yahoo, Hotmail, or Gmail. It is usually in broken English with incorrect grammar. Below is the exact email I received:

I found your profile using eBay Trading Assistant Program and I'm offering a long term cooperation to you. I've agreements with different outlet stores in different states, that allows to get the brand new products for a much lower price. I've many business partners in different states, they help me to buy / ship off stuffs and they check its condition for some % from my profit that I get when I sell all this stuff using Ebay service. We ship completely different types of products (from ice skates to binoculars), the average price of the items is $300-$600. We usually use FedEx delivery service to ship off the packages and USPS (rarely). I'd like to know what is your fees structure. I usually choose money transactions through MoneyGram or Western Union as a payment method, because it's the most effective way for me and it's easy to send. It would be great, if you could provide this money-sending service for me. I'm really interested in cooperation with you. Let me know, if we can start immediately.


Basically this person wants YOU to list items, send them money for the inventory, and then they will ship the items when sold. What’s really going to happen is that unsuspecting sellers will send them money and list items, then when a sale is made, there is no item shipped. Sellers will have to refund money to the eBay buyers. Another red flag is the use of Western Union or Money Gram. Never ever transact business with someone you don’t know using this service.

I knew what was going on here, so I sent the following reply, not expecting an answer:

Dear Sir,

Wow, this sounds like a fantastic business opportunity! I just need a few things from you before we go any further.

Your full name, address (street address, no PO boxes), and social security number or EIN, which ever you do business under.

A copy of your current driver's license.

A landline phone number where you can be reached.

We run a background check on all consignment clients and must be able to verify your identity, business address, and telephone number.

The business name you operate under, what city and state you are registered in, and a copy of your current business license.

We charge 25% of the sale price, and your eBay fees and Paypal fees will be deducted separately. The fee structure differs based on the sale price of the item. This usually comes out to about 60% of the sale price.

As soon as I get the requested documents from you, (you can just scan and email them, or fax to XXX), I will have my attorney draw up the paperwork / agreement and have it Fed Ex'd to the address you provide.

Looking forward to doing business,
Suzanne Wells

Of course, by adding words like “background check, business license, and attorney” you won’t hear from them again. Maybe if these crooks get enough of these types of emails they will go away. And in the event you get a response with any information you can verify, contact the authorities who handle fraud.


Jazzle Dazzle said...

There is another angle to the scammers. Some of them WILL send merchandise to their trading assistants -- which then turn out to be 100% Asian-made fakes. Either way, the TA ends up making refunds and with their reputation in tatters.

Serena said...

Love your response, Suzanne! The scammers know that they have met their match. I get a lot of emails with eBay's logo offering to sell me merchandise similar to the ones I have listed. I always forward them to eBay.

Kaci Rose said...

Love your response you right it was freak them out!! i was just talking to hubby about spammers on something different last night and we both agree all spammers shoudl fall into a dark hole never to be seen again. LOL.

lil_redS2 said...

i wish i had come across this blog sooner. i'm in the process of firing emails back and forth. i purchased a product off ebay but money was sent through western union.. and after all the agreements were made and money was picked up, the person tells me they can't ship it. i feel so helpless right now, is there any way to get the money back??? The ebay trading assistants are of no help.. it seems like they're in the scam too.

Suzanne A. Wells said...

lil_red, the first suggestion I have is that you keep all communications between you and the seller on the eBay messaging system. Having the entire trail of emails in your eBay account will help you once you have engaged eBay for assistance in this situation.

Also, if you have not already opened a case with eBay, please do so.

- Goto "My EBay"
- Choose "Purchase History"
- Find the item and "View details"
- If shipping date has passed, then click on item
- On the right side click "More Options"
- Then click "Item not received
- This will take you to the page to open a case.

If your emails were sent through eBay, that will help you a lot.

Good luck to you!