Recent Ebay Scam

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by Clint Geller, Jun 29, 2015.

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  1. Clint Geller

    Clint Geller Registered User
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    Jul 12, 2002
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    I am a research physicist at a government lab
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    I saw the following Ebay listing, now ended, a few days ago:

    ANTIQUE 18K GOLD APPLETON TRACY WALTHAM CIVIL WAR POCKET WATCH RARE #281732476670

    It was listed by a guy with zero prior feedbacks, and contained only three pictures, all of the case. However, the lot description promised an 18K Robbins & Appleton case, and aside from some wear on the bow, the case appeared to be in great shape with nearly all the engine turning still on it. So I contacted the "seller," asking for the movement serial number and some more pictures. He responded, and told me the watch was a "fully jeweled" twenty size with S# 50,141! That S# didn't immediately ring any bells, although it should have. About two days later, the promised pictures arrived, via my direct e-mail address, along with the message below:

    My Appleton Tracy Waltham Civil War Pocket Watch is not on ebay anymore, but it's still available for sale.
    My usual schedule has been changed and I had to go to Spain to take care of some business and that's why I've ended my auction.
    The final price for the watch is US $ 1,500.00 including all the shipping costs and insurance.
    Also I want to let you know that you will have the opportunity to receive and inspect the watch before you actually pay for it. If you are interested and want to know more details regarding the purchase just contact me.
    Thanks and sorry for delay,

    Marshall


    $1,500 is way less than the scrap gold value of the case, and the crook figured I would know that. The pictures told the story. The dust cover carries an unique Civil War presentation to a "Pay Master Major Ladd." That exact watch sold on Ebay a few years ago for over $10,000. I remember it well, as I was the back bidder. (The winning bidder had more information about the provenance than I did, and so was willing to go higher.) It was subsequently featured in an NAWCC BULLETIN article, as it may have been present beside Abraham Lincoln's deathbed. I told this fine gentleman exactly what he could do with his watch, as anatomically challenging as that advice might have been.

    The "I'm in Spain" part of the thief's message was his excuse for not being able to speak on the phone. This is a common motif among Ebay thieves. The only baffling part is his claim that I would be able to inspect the watch before paying for it. This makes it plausible that he actually has the watch, and that it is stolen, but I doubt it. My other theory concerns the images he sent me. When I opened them, the suffix "_cleaned" had been attached to the file names, which raises the suspicion that this scam was just an elaborate ruse to get some malware onto my computer.
     
  2. mauleg

    mauleg Registered User
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  3. darrahg

    darrahg Moderator
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    Some eBay sellers have their own internet stores. They will use eBay to list an item high and have a submit a counter offer bid button available. After submitting a counter offer they will counter with a price similar to one they list on their own store and suggest that you purchase it there. The buyer will then refuse to buy on eBay, go to the other internet store, buy it and the seller closes the auction stating that the item is no longer available. This process avoids paying the eBay fees and you get a better deal but is risky. A buyer has protection when using PayPal via eBay. The seller in your case does not have a store which increases the risk factor significantly. Just walk away and buy something else.
     
  4. Clint Geller

    Clint Geller Registered User
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    The "seller" in my case wasn't actually a seller at all, as he didn't actually have the watch, so the "risk factor" was infinite. He had lifted the images of a watch he didn't own off the Internet and was planning to keep my money if I was foolish enough to send him any. By quoting a price of $1,500, he was hoping that greed would get the better of my common sense.
     
  5. Clint Geller

    Clint Geller Registered User
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    The message I quoted came through the Ebay site! Only the pictures came off-site. Had the seller seemed legit, and I was able to speak with him on the phone, I might have asked him to post a pre-arranged Buy-it-Now price for me.
     
  6. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    I had marked the very watch you speak of. Glad you dealt with that one for all concerned. Sometimes you never know about sellers. Even those with
    many sales and good feed back will end a sale early probably for a number of reasons. I was Just on an 18k Robert Roskell and this morning I get notified
    the seller ends the listing early without explanation. Ever vigilant. Keith
     
  7. Clint Geller

    Clint Geller Registered User
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    A good friend was just contacted very likely by the same scammer. He used a different zero-feedback Ebay ID, a different e-mail address, and a different phony name, but the M.O. was exactly the same: He claimed that he ended the auction, which contained very few pictures, early because he had to go to Spain, but was willing to sell his watch off-line for some ridiculously low price (this time, a gold Jules Jurgensen minute repeater for $3,600!) and he would allow you to inspect the watch before buying. I now know how he had planned to convince his mark that the transaction was safe. My friend played along with the thief, and he was sent a spoofed link to a legitimate third-party escrow website, Skrill, which holds payment until goods are shipped and accepted. When my friend contacted Skrill, they knew nothing about the guy. Fortunately, I had already warned him about the Waltham 20 Size scam, so he saw through the repeater scam immediately.

    If the thief did this twice, he probably did it more times than that. The guy is using a banking contact in Spain.
     
  8. mauleg

    mauleg Registered User
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    If the notification arrived via email, it's possible, or even likely, that he was spoofing the ebay address.
     
  9. Clint Geller

    Clint Geller Registered User
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    hmm. That's possible, I suppose, but I don't see that he needed to. I contacted the "seller" through Ebay asking for more information and pictures. So he responded back through the site. The only thing he did against the rules was to provide his personal e-mail address, but that is not uncommon, even among legitimate sellers.
     
  10. prideofmatchingham

    prideofmatchingham Registered User
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    Exactly the same thing had happened with me reg a triple fusee and the seller sent me the Skrill. That link of Skrill was ofcourse all done up and illegal and as clean as a monkey's chest. In my case I dont exactly where he went to-Spain or somewhere else- but he wanted money and said that his servant would ship the clock! It was this that got my goat!

    These are variants of Nigerian scams, including Pe**s enlargement schemes and one must always be on guard!
     
  11. Firegriff

    Firegriff Registered User
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    The auction site has an escrow option that holds the money till you are satisfied prior to paying the seller this is only way I would even consider a multi thousand dollar buy purchase of the site(If I had that much to blow)
     
  12. MartyR

    MartyR Moderator
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    #12 MartyR, Jul 4, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2015
    I've seen this option, but I have no idea what it consists of.

    Who holds the escrow? Is it Ebay or Paypal or a legal firm? If it's Ebay or Paypal then who adjudicates the escrow, then I would not advise anyone to use it - Ebay is an offshore company which is not subject (necessarily) to the laws of the buyer's or the seller's country and is an extremely difficult company to sue, and Paypal is the same until its separation from Ebay is complete (at which point we have no idea if it will be offshore or not!)? What is the exact legal meaning of "satisfied" to which the escrow is bound?

    Of course the same is likely to apply to a legal escrow holder - they may or may not be bound by the laws of your country.

    Having said all of that, I suspect that Skrill (of whom I had never heard before this discussion) may suffer the same problems. Anyone using these facilities should really find out exactly what they are bound to before using the service.
     
  13. topspin

    topspin Registered User

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    If I imagine myself as a seller - I am struggling to think of a situation in which escrow would be an attractive way to do business, even if the escrow holder was a reputable bricks-and-mortar company in my own town. Escrow is good for situations where both parties really don't trust each other, don't like each other, or where a good result for both parties is the item remaining in escrow indefinitely.
    Therefore, as a buyer, I would also be immediately very suspicious of any deal being offered with an escrow element - what is this seller up to, what is the game here?
     
  14. MartyR

    MartyR Moderator
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    There is nothing suspicious about the principle of escrow, which is simply a device to enable two parties to exchange goods for money. Escrow is necessarily a part of every single sale of a house in Britain, for example.

    The problem with the escrow systems being discussed here is not the principle of escrow, but the identity of the stakeholder and the laws under which the stakeholder operates. Unless both buyer and seller know and understand both of these, they would be very unwise to use the process.

    Many people do not realise that Paypal operates a discretionary escrow system under which they withhold the buyer's payment from the seller until delivery of the purchased item is proven, and after allowing a discretionary period after delivery to allow the buyer time to complain of damage in transit or misdscription. I am not entirely cognisant of the details of the discretionary elements which Paypal apply, nor of the exact rules applied for completion of the transaction. While Paypal was owned by Ebay, I could rely on Ebay's need to maintain reputation to ensure that the Paypal processes would be broadly fair (to both buyer and seller). But I have to admit that I held serious misgivings about using Paypal because I know very well that Ebay (UK) is registered in Luxembourg who seem to have almost no modern consumer legislation of worth, and suing a company in Luxembourg would be prohibitively expenseive.

    When Paypal departs from Ebay and becomes a strictly financial entity, it will become subject to UK legislation relating to financial services, and I will feel much more comfortable then.
     

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