Ebay Scam.

I think a scam was just tried on me. I’m researching how it works and what’s involved. If anyone out there knows the details of something like this, or how it goes, please let me know… I smell foul play.

Here’s what just went down.
I was looking for a USB 3.5″ hard drive case. I went to Ebay and did a search. For starters, I found the shipping and handling costs of computer related products outrageous. $15 for handling on a $14 item? I see how they make money. It seems that the majority of auctioneers are using this same practice.

I find what I’m looking for. It’s an aluminum case 3.5″ drive bay with USB cables and software. 1hr 22min remaining – no bids. I carefully go over the specs, and the shipping and handling costs, etc. I contemplate how much this would cost at CompUSA and what little selection I’d have. Plus the time to drive 20 miles to Salem, NH.

Opening bid price is $14.95. It has a “Buy Now!” price of $16.95. I think about how many hundreds of drive bays they had listed and if it’s worth the $2 to secure my purchase. I figure I could use the two extra bucks and match the starting bid of $14.95. I click bid. I go get lunch.

Now let me preface the next statements by saying the following: Okay, sure I got out-bid. It happens. I can even see (on a 1 day auction where hundreds of duplicate auctions for the same or similar products are held) it as being a remote possibility. But what unfolded, in my mind, was not a coincidence.

I get back to my computer and check my email.

From Ebay
Received at 4:37 – eBay Outbid Notice:Aluminum USB 2.0 3.5″ External HD Drive Enclosure
Received at 4:50 – You’ve won your bid! Now What?
Received at 5:26 – eBay – Item Not Won, Similar Items Found: Aluminum USB 2.0 3.5″ External HD Drive Enclosure

From “Biteme”
Received at 5:11 – Message from eBay Member

Hi, I have one of the exact same 3.5′ HD enclosure. I bought it from the same store you are bidding on right now. If you want it, I can sell it to you for $26 shipped to you. I also have a Seagate 80GB HD if you are interested, it is brand new. you can contact my at 862-684-XXXX or through email. That number is my cell phone. thank you.

I’m calling this guy Biteme because of his Yahoo mail address is “biteme(a bunch of random numbers)@yahoo.com”

I wanted to ask Biteme if he had any golden toilet seats as well.
So, I was outbid by $1. Shortly after that another Ebay member graciously saw this and offered the exact same thing to me for $2 less? Plus the added bait of a drive? I smell fish. Then he gives me his cell phone number?

1. I’m not sure why Ebay sent me email saying I won, when I didn’t. I’m checking the headers and authenticity of the email. 2. I’m sure Biteme wants me to reply to his email – or give him a call. I don’t think so… 3. People are nice in this world, but if it looks to good to be true, it probably is.

I’m curious to learn if this IS a scam. Is the seller pushing up prices with fake bidders? Even if I contacted Biteme – He then would be taking my money OUTSIDE an Ebay auction, so I would have little recourse through Ebay. I’m sure Biteme is tied to the seller in someway. If Biteme rips you off, you can’t blame some other seller of some other auction now can you.

Caveat emptor!

Update:
After some more digging I found there are a number of widespread seller practices that Ebay appears to look the other way on. “Shill bidding” or fake bidding with a fake Ebay account, tied to a disposable email address. Feedback padding; Where several hundred items are listed cheap. (Like a $4.04 128MB Flash Card) The fake bidder A makes a first low bid ($4.04). Then a fake bidder B makes a second outrageous bid to drive any legitimate other bids away ($180.00). Auction ends, and bidder B retracts his bid. The seller allows this because it’s either his buddy or himself making the false bid. The bid is won by bidder A. The “widget” is “sold”, even though no money or items ever exchange hands. Ebay gets a few coins for listing the item. Then bidder A leaves a glowing seller comment, and the seller can leave positive buyer comment. If done carefully, this can drive up a sellers rating in a few days for a few hundred in Ebay fees. Worth the price, as the top sellers get special Ebay deals and people are more apt to buy from them.

Comment padding can be this blatant. I was stunned that this practice was allowed to go on. Really easy to track because it’s the same group of sellers and buyers making hundreds of comments over and over. Easy to stop too. Well it would be easy if someone wasn’t getting money out of the deal. *cough.

So the seller has a few shill bidders on his side. I bid $14.95. The seller shill bids $15.95 hoping I watch my ebay items closely. Now I would have to raise to $16.95 to take it. If I bite, the seller has raised the price of his item $2. I don’t bite and this makes no difference to the seller. He can now “sell” the item to the shill bidder. Comment padding happens and the item gets re-listed. You could say: “What’s a few bucks here and there?” We’re talking hundreds of items listed every day. Margins count, 2% here, $0.55 there. I’d take two more dollars on the 150 items I had for sale.

“Let’s turn those bastards in!” Sure, I’m right behind you. You can send an email to Ebay; That might get you an automated response this week. You could post on one of the forums; Tell me you have better things to do then read Ebay forums? The solution is the same as before; Watch your ass.

Latest Ebay scam list.

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