back to article Canadian loses $20K in phony eBay sale

A Canadian man was scammed out of $20,000 when he tried to buy a car through eBay. Shaqir Duraj, a baker from Calgary, thought he was dealing with a reputable seller because the person had a 98-per cent customer satisfaction rating. The refugee from Kosovo had already made high-ticket purchases off eBay, buying a big oven for …


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  1. Herbys

    Ebay reputations

    Ebay reputations mean nothing.

    First, they can be manufactured. Just create a few hundred accounts, and then buy/sell small things between the accounts. Pay the ebay fees, which should amount to a hundred dollars at most. Always give top ratings and voila! you have a hundred sellers with high ranks! Then put a few expensive things for sale at very good prices, get a few sales on each, and you can get probably a few thousand high margin sales before anyone complains of not receiving the goods. Basically, make a million quickly.

    And you can repeat the process many times if you are ambitious.

    In addition to that many sellers selling fake, low total value articles (like a $30 BT headset) will include with the article a letter saying "we will post automatically a rating identical to the one you post". So if you give them a bad rating, you are getting one too, screwing up your account.

    Based on my (and my close friends) experiences, the majority of products at eBay are either fakes or scams. There are many great sellers, but they are simply outnumbered by scammers. Many users do not detect the scams (they will blame the problems of a working but low quality fake to the purported manufacturer) and those who do will not dare damaging their reputations by complaining.

    What bothers me most is that both problems are easily solvable. The first one by implementing a rating analysis system that detect such closed groups, or that weights the amount of a sale in the rating.

    The second one by hiding one side's rating until the other one has been posted.

    But apparently ebay is too happy counting the money. A sale is a sale, after all.

  2. Peter Wood

    Ripped off and never helped!

    I was screwed out of $2,500,00 by a scam like this for an iMac. E-Bay was useless and then thanked me very much for pointing out that the same scam was being run by the same person, with the same account a week later. That did it for me, e-Bay can go off in a corner and die before it ever sees another penny of mine pass through its hoary portals.

    All need to beware that they talk a good game but never deliver the protection they promise.

  3. Henry Keultjes

    Canadian loses $20K in phony eBay sale’

    There is an interesting website that every eBay user should read.

    How many users actually audit their eBay and PayPal accounts? After finding discrepancies in my PayPal account two years in a row I had to make a decision to either go to court or severely limit my use of both eBay and Paypal. I chose the latter and have peace of mind, rather than getting my life tied up in knots for a very limited gain at most although, in a class action, the loss to PayPal and its owner eBay could be in the millions.

    The crux of the problem appears to be that eBay and PayPal act like a bank but they are neither regulated like banks nor do they allow their customers to deal with their mistakes and misdeeds in an effective manner.

    After finding those problems, I started by removing my bank and credit card information from PayPal and then made purchases until my balance was insignificant. The next time I made an eBay purchase I used my credit card via PayPal without any problems. However, when I tried that again the transaction was redflagged with "For your convenience, PayPal saves your credit or debit card information so you don't have to enter it every time you shop at eBay, or anywhere PayPal is accepted. Learn More

    It turns out that the term "for your convenience" is deceptive because, whatever I tried, I could not use PayPal anymore unless in fact I was willing to entrust my credit card information to them again, the very thing I did not want to do.

    Perhaps, I reasoned, this problem is tied to my still having a PayPal account so next I set out to close the account. Yes sir, you certainly may close your account and we will send you your check for your $2.77 balance after we deduct a $1.50 fee but *first* you must give us either your bank account or credit card information.

    This maddening circular problem would drive someone with lesser control to go berserk and get notions of taking the law into ones own hands. Fortunately writing this is a much better solution.

    I believe that both eBay and PayPal can continue to play a legitimate role if they are willing to recognize the, mostly monopoly type, problems that are of their own making and that eBay and PayPal know most of the crooks that ply their trade on eBay but don't care as long as users eat the losses and eBay continues to reap the profits. When these facts start dawning on enough honest participants that whole segment of the www could come crashing and burning down and lots of good honest people and businesses will be hurt in the process because, unlike a bank, PayPal's deposits are not federally insured.

    My suggestion is to seek out eBay sellers who have a merchant credit card account because credit card fraud protection is so much greater than any protection that PayPal can ever offer. If an eBayer is selling lots of items over ten bucks for an extended period of time and is unable or unwilling to get a merchant credit card account and/or is not collecting sales taxes for the state that they ship from, one has legitimate reasons to shy away from those sellers

    Henry Keultjes

  4. Aubry Thonon


    "Six weeks after he wired $20,000..."

    Says it all right there, really. The man paid for an eBay purchase via wire-transfer/western union. He might as well have mailed a big wad of cash.

    And I am *sure* there will be eBay haters who will pop up out of the woodwork to denounce eBay's security and fraud prevention etc, etc, etc.. and I agree that eBay (like just about all web-facing enterprises) has security issues. But in *this* case, the problem is that someone did not Caveat Emptor with a large sum of money.

  5. Glen Guenther

    Partial disagreement w Herbys

    I have nothing but contempt for eBay or the clowns who run it. They have so far been absolutely and totally useless whenever I've had a problem either with their system or with a seller.

    Having said that, though, I have to disagree with comments that the majority of the products are fakes or scams and that the bad sellers outnumber the good ones. Certainly there are both bad sellers and bad products on eBay but I haven't seen anything to indicate that they outnumber the good ones.

    We've bought a variety of products from eBay and have a 400+ feedback score and have over 1,100 total positive feedbacks so while we can't compare to the heavy eBay users we aren't novices, either. And out of over 1,200 successful auctions (counting the ones that never left feedback) we've had only 9 bad auctions from 6 bad sellers. And of those sellers 2 had serious medical conditions which we were able to verify to our content to show why they didn't send us the items in question. So less than 1% of the sellers we've dealt with have been bad ones and less than .5% of our total auctions have been bad ones. I don't mind those odds at all.

    As for Herbys' suggestions, eBay DOES indicate in the feedback list if a seller is "No longer a registered user" so having scores of closed accounts would be noticeable. I look at the feedback for each seller before I buy from them. I check how long a seller has been selling items, and even watch the buyers' userids and comments (such as if there are identical comments from a number of different buyers). So I think that there are ways that you can protect yourself from most of the bad sellers.

    Please don't confuse me with someone who likes eBay and PayPal and thinks that they're a wonderful company. I have a higher opinion of pond scum. If anyone ever creates a real competitor for eBay then I'll abandon eBay in a heartbeat (I wish Google would work on that rather than trying to find ways to get your private data on their systems). Until then I'll have to content myself with the illusion that at least I'm not directly giving any money to eBay or PayPal. Regardless of what I think of eBay/PayPal, though, I DO have faith in a vast majority of the sellers with whom I've dealt.

    Glen Guenther

  6. Mark Hartman

    Ebay: Home of the Electronic Grifter

    I was almost the victim of the same type of account hijack a few months ago. Fortunately I got my money back, although anyone who has gone through a similar experience knows that ebay is of ABSOLUTELY NO HELP! As I've said before, their so-called "safe harbor" policy actually helps the crooks get away with their crimes.If you want your money back, it's up to you.

    Since my experience, I've checked out many high-ticket items similar to the acution I was involved in. An amazingly high percentage of them appear very sketchy, with descriptions that read like they were written by a fifth grader (ore shoud i say, discripsions that read like they wear write by a 5th grader), similar use of all caps and highlighting for key item description tags to draw suck in more buyers, and no response to inquiries asking for details about the item or local pickup options.

    While legitimate sellers still vastly outnumber the scammers, I believe it is a growing epidemic, which is why I think ebay should change their tag line from "Shop. Victoriously." to "ebay: Home of the Electronic Grifter."

    Crunchy Frog.

  7. Andy

    Don't spend anything you can't afford to burn

    I recently got burned on eBay. After many successful auctions I finally found somebody who didn't ship the item I paid for.

    But to me the rule of "don't spend anything on eBay that I can't afford to throw away" is just as important as "don't click on attachments in your email".

    eBay is fun and quite entertaining in its own way. I don't think its very reliable but I can afford to throw away the few pounds I got scammed of.

  8. Sampler

    RE: Peter Wood

    Quarter of a million for a Mac - I heard those pieces of shit were expensive but sheesh!

  9. Richard Read

    Escrow is the answer

    I can never understand why people buy high-ticket items on ebay without using an escrow service. It would have cost Mr Duraj only $201 to use a reputable escrow service and had a totally safe transaction.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Ebay scammers

    I have feedback of 100+ and have only had one bad experience.

    I was selling several gold bullion coins, and one of them (A chinese panda 1oz coin, worth about £480 at the time) was bought and the buyer tried to convince me to ship to an alternative address in the UK (buyers account was US registered).

    Obviously did not ship. Got an email 24 hours later from the actual PayPal acocunt owner telling me not to ship and that his PP account had been hijacked. Refunded the blokes money and sold the coin offline to someone who had bought other coins from me on ebay.

    Seems to me that such frauds are endemic and ebay/paypal did absolutely nothing to chase it up. There stance was that no harm was done as the money was refunded to the buyer, and I (as seller) did not lose out as I hadn't shipped the item. This tells you all you need to know about how serious ebay are about reducing fraud.

  11. Paul Talbot


    I think that anyone buying a product remotely via eBay is taking their risks knowingly. Whatever protections eBay or PayPal profess to offer, ultimately it's only a step up from classifieds in the local AdMag. If you're going to buy a car for over $20K, I'd be wanting to physically check the car over for defects at the very least before handing over money.

    That said, I've never had any problems with eBay auctions. I do tend to stick to smaller items though - usually under £50 - but occasionally buy other things. I've just bought a brand new Creative Zen 60Gb Vision:M, the new slimline model that's not out in Europe yet, for half the usual retail price from Singapore. It arrived in perfect condition, so no problems. I didn't get ripped off because I could spot the obvious scams, I researched the seller before bidding and I used a credit card which (should) protect me against fraud if it happened. It didn't, so I'll be saving cash again.

    Moral of the story: if you buy a high priced item, be careful. Agreeing to buy something for thousands of dollars without having seen the item, then wiring cash to a complete stranger is asking to get ripped off. Be careful, you won't have problems.

  12. Duncan Hothersall

    @ Herbys

    Sorry, but "the majority of products at eBay are either fakes or scams" is just bollocks. You might have had a valid point, but as soon as I read that sort of hyperbole, I moved on. What a crock.

  13. Anonymous John

    Even if the seller's legit,

    why would anyone buy a car without seeing it, kicking the tyres, and taking a test drive?

  14. Keith T

    maybe it's time to wake up

    In the U.K. if you have your card cloned the police and banks will more or less tell you that it's just tough.

    I don't see droves of bank customers withdrawing their money every day when interest rates change so what's the difference? (Northern Rock doesn't come in to this as it's the bank that fucked their customers over).

    How about all those lovely adverts about 'consolidating all your debts'? Does no one realise it will still cost more money and that the firms don't give a toss about you as they own your home and dog and cat? How about 'releasing the potential of your mortgage/pension?

    Nah, E-bay aren't the real crooks - they may act as agents for crooks but that's about it. Do the police really care if you get robbed for £50? - they might if it was a few hundred thousand.

    The man was persuaded to go outside the system to pay for his car.

    "Hello? yes your new car is being delivered today. Not in? just leave the cash under a brick by your front door."

    There's are more than one born every minute.

    (yes, I have lost out once on E-bay but it only made me more security aware)

  15. Hedley Phillips

    Paypal protection is worthless

    A few years ago I purchased an expensive item (£80 is a lot to me!) on Ebay through PayPal and was ripped off.

    So, I started to go through the process of reclaiming my money.

    Firstly, Ebay told me that the item number I was giving them in my claim was not a valid item despite it being in my 'MyEbay' page.

    I spent just less than a year faxing and emailing to Ebay in what was one of the most frustrating and pathetically pointless processes I have ever had the displeasure to go through. Their claims system didn't work, they had no records of my emails and faxes and I could never get to speak to anyone.

    They would say the same thing to me time and time again, despite me resolving that particular hurdle months ago. It got to the stage where I either gave up and cried or saw it as a fun game to play. I took the latter option and renewed my efforts to be even more annoying and see this matter to the end.

    Finally, I got my money back.

    It must have cost Ebay more than what they refunded me in the staff hours and fax paper alone.

    Needless to say, if it is worth more than £20 to £30 quid I won't buy it on Ebay as it just isn't worth the hassle of claiming.

    In fact, even with smaller items it isn't worth it. If you have to return something, you have to pay the postage which often costs more than the item so you end up chucking it in the bin.

  16. Jason Irwin


    "Six weeks after he wired $20,000..."

    Well, he only has himself to blame.

  17. Ben Bradley

    But... PayPal comission!

    So eBay recommends he used PayPal to transfer the money.

    Well being an eBay company, of course they're going to recommend PayPal.

    How much would PayPal have taken from a $25,000 transaction?


    I've never used Escrow and don't know much about it, but it seems like a perfect system for high-value items such as this.

  18. David S

    @Anon (soupy coins guy)

    I presume you reported this to the police as well? Given that the scammer had supplied you with his address, and with the virtual paper trail and all, it seems likely that eBay could be one scammer down thanks to you...

    Oh, and Richard: Can you recommend me a reputable escrow company? My cousin thought the escrow company which was holding his payment for him were reputable until they vanished, very like a thief in the night.

    I think the rule of "Don't spend what you can't afford to lose" is probably safest in this context...

  19. Oz
    Thumb Down

    Use the PayPal system

    "The company strongly advises customers to use the official PayPal payment system when making purchases."

    What a surprise.... there's more money in it for them that way!

    Let's be honest, there's not that much extra protection once you take into account that most of the time they won't do anything if you've been stung.

  20. Jonny Leigh
    Thumb Up

    PayPal Protection Does Work

    I bought some dodgy iPods from an eBay seller. When I realised they were fakes I started the PayPal protection reclaims process expecting it to be a hard slog at the best and a kiss-goodbye-to-£300 at worst.

    Much to my suprise, less than a month later I had all the money deposited back into my back account.

    Most other transactions have been absolutly fine.

  21. James Marten

    @Henry Keultjes

    I'm sure there are lots of horror stories to be told about Paypal, but I'm not sure that is the place for any authoritative information. Every anonymous "story" there seems to be advertising for their own merchant account service, with seven links on their home page alone.

    Read with a critical eye, if at all.

  22. John
    Thumb Down

    eBay/PayPal suck

    I "purchased" a laptop off of eBay and paid through PayPal but never received it. The Buyer Protection crap was listed in the auction to give you that warm fuzzy feeling of security. However both eBay and PayPal gave the same default reply to my conflict resolution request -- "There's nothing we can do.". I no longer use either of these.

  23. RancidM


    Theres a reason its called Thiefbay around this neck of the woods.

    it is full of scammers and con men.

  24. John Stag

    What if the car had turned up and it was a wreck?

    What if the car had turned up and it was a complete wreck? Would he still blame eBay for not personally checking out the car for him?

    eBay isn't to blame for the scammers which inhabit it. A couple of people have tried to scam me on eBay but after a couple of emails it was painfully obvious what was going on. Both wanted Western Union money transfer, both could barely write a coherent sentence.

    My advice: Ask the seller a question before bidding. Doesn't matter what it is, just talk to them and get a feeling for what's going on.1

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Paypal and eBay are good if you're not a moron

    The people complaining here either got scammed by an expert or are utter morons themselves. I've been on eBay since 2001 and, while I've had a couple of bad sellers selling dodgy ripoffs (which I got most of my money back on, after complaining to PayPal) the majority of the time it's good stuff from decent sellers. To repeat the above: check the feedback thoroughly, check how long the seller has been a member, and (the most obvious) find some way to check for expensive items. No, I also wouldn't buy a car without testing it first. I rarely buy anything with a value over 50 (insert major currency here) but I once spent $200 on a computer part and it arrived, well packaged and genuine, in good time. There's still some life in the old gal yet.

  26. fred bloggs

    Greedy, stupid people

    I limit myself to about $2000 for car purchases, and only in person. This bloke is just stupid. I do about $500 a month selling / buying IT,gadgets,hobby stuff, and have only been scammed once about 5 years ago, for $20, which I got back through paypal.

  27. David Lurie

    My recommendation...

    Personally the only time I spend more than a little - I bought my photography equipment on it, and my xbox 360 - I buy only from people who a) have usernames that show they only sell the one type of things (the xbox was from [xxxxx]-consoles) and b) shops with power seller ratings.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If ebay was smart they would pay those victims back _All of them

    The problem is that ebay allows the code in their listings. Security experts agree that is a big no-no, as seen in the article from this publication

    "ebay's phishy old problem"

    Ebay alone has the onus & ability to stop that, nixing the problem at the quick.

    I see the ebay bigwigs are busy cashing in stock options like there is no tomorrow.

    Maybe they should take a day's worth of interest & do the right thing, because their reputation is really suffering. And it will get worse as long as they let this continue.

    I hope everyone out there Boycotts them until they pay back all the bayrob.trojan victims. *All* of them.

    After all, this is one of their much vaunted 5 core values:

    "We encourage you to treat others the way you want to be treated"

    Does ebay want everyone to rip them off & disrespect them?

    Because it looks that way.

  29. Mark Hartman

    Using escrow to purchase -- try it sometime, if you can!

    The people on this forum who insist that buyers just protect themselves on high-ticket item purchases by using escrow obviously haven't ever tried it. I recently contacted 12 independent sellers asking them to go for an escrow deal, and they all refused except one -- and he had a (0) feedback record. And, yes, I indicated beforehand that I would shoulder 100% of the escrow costs. It actually represented a savings to the seller, because they avoid having to pay the large paypal commission. The typical seller's response? "There's nothing in it for me."

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Why would you buy

    Anything on ebay when there are so many good real retailers online and the prices are decent for the most part, why take the risk. I have news for people there some of us who will not do business with anyone who uses Paypal for lots of good reasons all of them money.

  31. Mark Hartman

    Understanding the meaning of "worldwide exchange forum"

    Some who have commented here don't seem to understand the meaning of "worldwide exchange forum." In the U.S., at least, it's not quite as simple as "catching the number 35 from Harrowgate to Leeds" to check out an item for sale.

    And some, like John, above, who insist that ebay is not responsible for scammers who inhabit their site are dead wrong when we're considering folks who have been ripped off because of fraudulent auctions due to ebay's gaping security holes. Just remember: it's ebay that has facilitated a fraudulent auction. Yes, ebay cannot be held responsible for someone who scams using their own account, but when it's someone else's account, that's a different story.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    One of the biggest scams going is the seller recommending an escrow service, to protect seller & buyer, only to find the escrow service is a fake! Honestly , some of these sites "look" very, very real carrying all sorts of links to fraud related websites & such. It would fool almost anyone.

  33. alan gunnigle

    ebay fraud

    sadly i have been part of a 10,000 euro ebay scam, i lost £775, other's lost alot more. marius8080 was the seller be aware.

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