I was recently contacted my a friend of mine who was leery of a particular eBay transaction he was about to make. My friend, who we shall call ‘Joe’ for the sake of this article, was not the most internet savvy guy and had never purchased anything on eBay before, so he asked if I would take a look at the transaction information.
I have personally sold on eBay since the late 1990’s and am well aware of what is legit and what is not. In this particular case, there were way to many red flags not to investigate.
So here is the breakdown :
Joe found a great looking four wheeler on Craigslist for nearly half of the retail price, this was flag number one. The four wheeler, in the condition it was in typically sells for $2500-$3000. The seller only wanted $1500 and that included shipping to anywhere in the country.
Joe was in contact with the man who said the wheeler was still available and that it was sitting in a garage in Arkansas just waiting to be shipped. The man however, stated he was in the military and stationed in Alaska, but he had someone who would take care of the shipping for him. This was flag number two.
With Joe being a little leery, he asked the man for a contact phone number. The seller gave him a phone number, but stated he would not be able to talk because he was in the middle of a training mission for the military. Flag number three.
The seller then directed Joe to an eBay listing where the four wheeler was also listed. He instructed Joe to check his email and he would send over an invoice and payment instructions. This is where the scam starts to take shape and can really dupe many people who are not familiar with how eCommerce works on the web. Luckily, at this point, Joe was sending me all of the emails he was receiving from the seller so I could take a look at them.
Joe also told me he contacted eBay Motors to inquire about him as a seller. This was done after the seller advised Joe to click the ‘Live Chat’ link at the bottom of the invoice. Joe clicked it and spoke to eBay Motors about the seller…so he thought. Everything checked out thought Joe, but, Joe was never really speaking with anyone from eBay. He was live chatting with the actual scam artist who told Joe that everything was okay and to continue with payment so the shipping process could begin.
Here is the fake eBay invoice. This is the actual invoice that was sent to Joe and is still being used by the same scammer today. Please note : eBay will NEVER send an email like this one. eBay will NEVER ask you to send payment via a prepaid card. This is a HUGE RED FLAG and 100% guarantee that you are being scammed.
After seeing this email, I quickly let Joe know that he should NOT send any money to this person. Joe was getting ready to scan and email the seller five prepaid Visa cards. Luckily, I was able to stop him from losing $1500.
I decided to do a little investigation work myself. I clicked the ‘Live Chat’ link and was immediately brought to the following link, another red flag : https://app.purechat.com/w/eBay%20Motors%20Customer%20Support. The link did not go to eBay at all. The link was nothing more than a generic chat program, where anyone can remain anonymous. I entered the appropriate information and immediately someone started chatting with me.
The person on the other end of the chat acted as though they were form eBay Motors and asked for my invoice number and name that appeared on the invoice that was sent in the email. I played along. My first thought was, wow, this guy has so many scams going that he has to have an actual database of invoice numbers to reference.
As I played dumb with the suspected scam artist, his patience grew thin with me. I finally called him out on his scam and was less than impressed. What really got me however, was the fact he didn’t hide it. He was proud of scam.
His immediate response to me calling him out on his scam was ‘F**k You!’. He then proceeded to tell me that I would not believe how much money he makes in a single day by running this scam. The scammer was very outspoken, appeared to be English and very young. Based on his language, emoji’s used and context of the conversation, I would say he is in his mid to late 20’s.
This scam artist is still alive and strong today, right now in fact, he is stealing peoples hard earned money all over the country. Immediately after our chat session (which you can see below), the live chat feature went away and you are now forced to email the scam artist, not chat directly. Clearly, fear that his IP address could be traced.
In recent weeks I have heard of 2 people locally that have been scammed out of thousands from this same person, using the same name, same invoice and same chat program.