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A new type of escrow scam is showing up on most of the east coast craigslist motorcycle boards. This scheme will advertise a great deal to elicit lots of responses, and each responder gets a few bait emails explaining that the item is “in eBay’s hands” because a previous sale there was not completed.
Lately, scammers are posting with gmail addresses that almost always contain a first name. After a potential target responds to the ad, the gmail address is abandoned. I have seen this trend in real estate as well. This particular scammer used [email protected] to send these emails to me in an auto-responder fashion after I contacted him. No matter what my emails contained, these three messages came from the scammer as immediate responses in this order:
First of all, please DO NOT REPLY at this e-Mail if you don’t have the amount available, or if you don’t intend to be serious.
I’m from Orlando, Florida.
This is the second time when I try to sell the motorcycle. First time I tried eBay.
Because all the time I use only 100% safe methods I sent the motorcycle through eBay Vehicle Protection Program to a buyer from Alaska.
I paid all the shipping fees from my money and when the eBay have requested the payment the seller have refused to pay because he don’t have the full amount.
Now I have the motorcycle in the eBay hands and is ready to be delivered to the next buyer.
If you want to purchase it and only if you are a serious buyer then send me your complete name and address for shipping.
The time delivery will be only 3 days and the motorcycle will be delivered at your home address full registered in your state and under your name.
This scam appears to be sophisticated for a few reasons. Above all, eBay does have a Vehicle Protection Program that was designed to shield buyers from scam artists on eBay Motors. After some quick searches, a shopper could be falsely convinced that this program exists as a transaction escrow service instead of just a monetary guarantee. Also, the ad text itself plays on a buyer’s emotions. This seller appears to be frustrated with dead-beat buyers and tire kickers, which is a typical grief that one-time sellers profess in their listings.
The second email…
The bike is in perfect condition. Full working. The technical inspection has been made 3 weeks ago.
Now the motorcycle is in the eBay hands and not in my possession it. If you will not like it and you will decide to return it then you will receive the full refund. If you will decide to buy it then eBay will release the funds to me.
If you agree with the terms then send me your complete name, address FAX number and I’ll redirect the motorcycle to you.
I’ll wait for your reply!
…and the third email…
eBay Protection Program help the sellers and buyers to stay safe with all the transactions.
How it works:
1. The seller ships the goods to eBay. They will inspect the goods and will contact you through email with the payment details.
2. You will send the payment to eBay.
3. After eBay will confirm your payment they will delivery you the goods in 3 days.
4. As soon as you will receive and you will inspect it if all will be ok and if you will decide to keep it then eBay will release the funds to me. If not you will receive the full refunds and the goods will be returned to me.
Tips that will save you from this scam:
- eBay does not handle merchandise or hold and release funds
- make sure the email address on the ad listing and the one you communicate with are the same
- avoid shipping, deal locally, and meet the seller in person
Have you encountered an online scam?
I am not a lawyer or a financial consultant, but I can help you report an online scam to the US federal authorities. If you publish emails that scammers have sent you on fightthescams.com, you can help save others from becoming victims of similar schemes.