Alice Medlock of Van Buren, Arkansas, was helping her son buy two jet skis for $9500 on eBay. However, she very nearly lost the $9,500 to a scammer using the online auction service to fleece the unwary.
Medlock said she contacted the seller, who listed her name as "Debra Rose."
Through a series of email exchanges, Rose told Medlock that she would send her the titles, pay for the shipping, provide a tracking number, and accept payment for the watercrafts through eBay.
Shortly thereafter, Alice received an email invoice that appeared to be from eBay. The invoice instructed her to transfer $9500 from her bank to an ING Direct account in Minnesota, and after the wire was complete, the seller sent her pictures of the certificate of titles in the name of Debra Rose, a Web address for the shipper and a tracking number.
It all looked very legitimate, but it wasnt.
But by the time Medlock began to smell a rat, she had transferred the money.
In most cases, victims are simply out of luck at that point. However, Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniels office was able to contact the bank that had received the wire transfer and stop it from being forwarded to the scammer.
Where was eBay in all of this? According to Medlock, they were no help at all.
I can tell you that I am very disappointed in eBay, but I am very impressed with the manner in which the Attorney General assisted me in getting my $9500 returned, said Medlock.
EBay never responded to my five emails concerning this fraudulent transaction until the day after my money was returned, and then it was to tell me they were not liable.
Scams like this one are all too common and all too convincing, said McDanial. Worse yet, there are usually many victims involved because the criminals commit one crime, like identity theft, in order to perpetrate another one, like the auction scam.