Lee Alexander

Lee Alexander

Air Force, Sgt.

St. Petersburg, Florida

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.

(4) comments

TanyaD

I also experienced this type of scam just few days ago. 'A very nice pickup was advertised locally, contacted the person who said they were in the military and being transferred to Alaska and did not want truck to sit garaged for three years. They would ship truck to me for inspection (from Nebraska to Florida) and if in 5 days I did not like it, would be shipped back to them. All along I played with them saying I was interested, and yes money to be sent to eBay as well. By now it was obvious it was a scam. Wrote and told them my son said the truck was to nice for a give for my grandson. That ended communication with them but could have easily gotten roped into a problem.

CitrusCo Citizen

Strange place to post a "headshot". At first glance, I thought that young soldier was a scam artist we have to watch out for!!

Miuke Nelson

This is a common scam especially with classic cars. I ran across one for a Willy's that was supposedly in Ocala. When I asked to see it, was told it was packed in a trailer in Minnesota, but once I got it, I could return it via E-Bay motors., etc, etc.

Watch out for scammer Lisa Carver. This scam is worldwide. The asking price is usually very reasonable on the low side but not too good to be true. There is usually a death or divorce given as the reason the price is so low. Bottom line, if you can't see it before putting out money, pass.

CitrusCo Citizen

Don't be shy about following your own instincts! If you see or feel even a bit of a red flag, check it out, do your homework, make a few calls, ask experts, and follow your intuition. Our parents TOLD us--if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Our grandparents told us--"There's a sucker born every minute" and "A fool and his money are soon parted." Even Aesop from 4,000 years ago wrote some pretty remarkable fables about scam artists! And if you are scammed don't be too embarrassed to spread the word and warn the rest of the "tribe" (community) about it and expose those scam artists. Around here, watch out for tree trimmers, roofers, and driveway asphalt people. They are "gypsies"--there today, gone tomorrow--with your cash and the job not done or completed properly.

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