R/E/P > Klaus Heyne's Mic Lab Stickies

eBay: How To Avoid Becoming A Scam Victim

(1/5) > >>

Klaus Heyne:
A client asked my advice and kept me abreast on his bidding of a beautiful looking U47. Then he became the high bidder, at  over $6,000.- Then he received the following notice from eBay:
Dear (---),
We're writing to let you know that eBay has ended the following item you were bidding on because the item appears to have been listed without the account holder's permission:

Item Number - 20005735xxxx
Item Title - Neumann U47 Kondensator-Mikrofon (Long Body)
We are now working to restore the account to its original owner as soon as possible.

When the auction first came up, the client asked me what he should do.
After I looked at the site, and saw the rather strange combo of vintage parts on this seemingly pristine looking mic (the vintages of electronics, housing tube and transformer varied, and did not match up to the serial number), I advised that if he is the high bidder, to NOT pay the client remotely, for security reasons, but drive up to his location, look at the mic in person and, if the mic and the seller looked trustworthy, pay him cash.

That strategy in the end saved his money and peace of mind.

Another method of relieving a buyer of his money was recently featured in the L.A.
Times. I quote:

'Second chance' scams

A classic Romanian scam is the "second chance auction." The mark: an EBay user who has narrowly lost an auction. The scammers can see that the user was prepared to spend, say, $145 on a particular item. They will then try to guess the user's e-mail address so that they can make contact off the EBay platform to offer a second chance to buy the item. Users commonly have the same e-mail address as their EBay user name, so the scammers may send out 50 e-mail messages using an EBay user name and the most common domain names such as Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo.

The Romanian scammers then cook up elaborate stories to persuade their victims to send money via unrecoverable methods such as Western Union -- even instructing people not to tell Western Union the payment is for an EBay transaction, claiming Western Union will charge them an EBay surcharge of 10% (it doesn't), and instead to say they're sending money to their Romanian cousin.

eBay gets less and less exciting as a place to shop for expensive mics. Not only is it yet another realm on the internet where our innate desire and ability to trust one another is betrayed, and more and more so every day, but where a seemingly easy way for a clean and fair transaction between a willing seller and buyer is shifting unacceptably in favor of the seller:

* frauds like the ones above increase, to the point where I hear at least of one of these cases every week

* scams, like shill games get more frequent, and more profitable in the $3,000 plus range- right at the price range of our beloved vintage mics:  
a friend of the seller bids up the price, thus creating the impression of a higher value for the item than its actual or average market value, all the while monitoring, through his access to the bidding progress and history, the bidding pattern.

I am sure there are other scams going and they are probably only growing more frequent, as the market for vintage mics tightens up more, and, because of the seeming ease of transactions, is shifting from reputable, or at least reachable, brick+mortar sellers to the virtual, anonymous market of eBay.

I have warned, again and again, against bidding when no personal contact to the seller can be established, or where the personal contact seems suspicious (late, insufficient or no responses to questions during bidding, ambiguous or contradictory language in the item description, etc.)

As buyers we must find a better way to exchange our money for vintage or other high priced professional mics.

I welcome your tips and strategies, and may include them in a new sticky.

J.J. Blair:
Here are the first things to look for in a fraudulent auction:

Bidders IDs are set to "private", so they can not be contacted and warned.

If you look at the seller's feedback and they have had no activity for months or years.  Also if they typically sell only non-audio or music related items, that's a red flag.

If their message says, "Do not contact me through eBay.  Use this e-mail address only."

Hijacked account auctions are usually only three day auctions, since it takes at least three days for eBay to respond to a report of a hijacked account.

If they do not accept Paypal, and won't even take it if you offer to pick up the fees yourself, that's a big red flag.  

BTW, Paypal wil only guarantee up to $1,000.  The last time I had an iffy auction for over that amount, even after I spoke to the person on the phone, etc., I made sure to use Paypal and pay with my American Express.  My suspicions proved correct, and I got scammed.  I filed a report with eBay and informed Amex, who reversed the charges.  

Also, sometimes if I have doubts, I will ask them if I can pick it up in person, or have a friend who lives in that town do it, etc.  If they say no, then look out.

Personally, I will not buy from somebody with less than 95% positive feedback, but they have to meet all the above criteria.  Account hijackers love to use accounts with great fedback.

Klaus Heyne:
Good points, J.J.

Here are other hazards of buying on eBay, one of which I have a solution for:

A rising form of scamming is what eBay calls "picture and text theft":
A beautiful looking mic is pictured, and, because of the pictures, ends up selling for a lot of money. Only after the poor high bidder opens the package does he realize that the picture on the auction page is NOT of the mic he just bought, but was stolen by the seller from some other, earlier eBay auction's photographs of a similar mic.

Solution: before the auction ends, insist that the seller includes a close-up picture of the mic's serial number on his auction page.

Klaus wrote:"As buyers we must find a better way to exchange our money for vintage or other high priced professional mics. "

Klaus, personally I would never buy or sell any vintage mike, without having an expert in between like e.g. you. Maybe it gets a bit more expensive because of your commission, but that is worthwhile the investment.

Erik Sikkema

J.J. Blair wrote on Sat, 16 December 2006 21:53

If their message says, "Do not contact me through eBay.  Use this e-mail address only."

that's the single biggest tip-off.

that is ALWAYS a scam, and the most common type (hijacked account)


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version