Many people buy and sell products via online web services such as eBay. Of course doing so brings with it a whole host dangers that can separate you from your money or product.
Just this past week a local resident reported being the target of a very convincing eBay scam. The resident/buyer became interested in a four-wheeler (all-terrain vehicle) that was listed on a local site. He traveled to the address listed in the ad but it was not the correct location. As a result, he called the individual selling the product and she gave him a story about how her husband had died and none of his family liked her so she had moved to Miami. Of course that meant the four-wheeler was now located in Miami.
Well the buyer really wanted the four-wheeler so he had no problem with having to go to Miami to get it if need be. She said she would be doing the sale through eBay Motors in order to safeguard them both but insisted that payment be made via eBay gift cards. The buyer thought this strange but once he received the email from “eBay Motors” he felt safe about the transaction. So as instructed he went to a local CVS and purchased nine $200 eBay gift cards to make the purchase.
Luckily prior to finalizing the transaction the buyer became concerned and contacted eBay and discovered that this was a scam transaction and not associated with them at all. Though he suffered no loss to the scam the buyer was stuck with $1,800 in eBay gift cards. After some diligent effort he was able to get CVS to refund his money since they have a policy not to put more than $50 on such a card and they failed to follow that in this case.
Now many of you might be thinking how anyone could fall for such a scam as I just mentioned. Well sadly it happens all too often. Granted there were a few red flags in the eBay scam, but if it is something you are not familiar with it can be quite convincing. So always do your due diligence and verify such purchases before you commit the money. If not you may pay a lot of money and get nothing in return.
Be alert for demands for payment in gift cards, transactions where people have all of a sudden had to move to another area or unexpected fees. Sellers need to be aware as well. Don’t fall for the “I will pay you more just send me back the difference” scam. Only accept payment through a recognized payment process that ensures you receive payment before you give up the product.
With the holidays upon us such scams will be flooding the internet so make sure to protect yourself by taking these simple precautions. A legitimate seller, or buyer, will have no issue with any precaution you wish to take. If we each put in the effort the holidays can be the enjoyable occasion they are meant to be.
Lee Alexander oversees the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office’s volunteer programs.