FRAUD on eBay UK right now, avoid! (multiple very cheap Samsung 840/850 Pro listings)...

mapesdhs

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WARNING: in recent years eBay has been targeted by fraudsters who list insanely cheap, popular items that of course don't exist. One such example was the following, for a Samsung SSD (this link is now defunct, but I'll leave it here because eBay can check their archive):

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=282014623558

Title: "AAA Samsung 512GB 850 PRO SSD Internal SATA III Solid State Drive 2.5" Black"

I have seen this type of scam before; they are called Long Scams, ie. where someone builds up a positive-sounding reputation over time that can then be used to commit fraud. I talked to eBay about these scams extensively in 2014/5 (there were hundreds on the site at one point), but alas they have not yet implemented my suggestions for preventing such scams. I contacted ebay again on 07/Jul/2016 and received a more positive response, so I hope something can be done. Please, more people need to complain, make a noise! Contact ebay and demand they take action. eBay needs to feel the pressure to prevent this kind of blatant fraud, and it is very easy for them to fix as I told them before (simple parameter matching of their own trending data and seller feedback profile).

As ever with any sale, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is! The above example was for a Samsung 850 Pro 512GB for only 20.50 UKP with free shipping, with dozens available. Who would think this was genuine?? But almost sixty people bought them in just a single day (6 more in the time it took me to write my initial post here). The scammers are clever, they begin the listing when eBay's live customer help contacts go offline (out of business hours, usually at the start of the weekend), so it can be days before anyone even notices what's going on. And this is just one example I've found, there are likely other fake items on eBay, probably things like Z170/X99 boards, GTX 900 series GPUs, Skylake CPUs, top-end SSDs, etc. Anything really popular at any moment in time. It's probably happening for all sorts of other items aswell (not just computer parts), eg. popular jewelry, hifi, watches, car parts, etc., but I only come across the listings mentioned here because tech is what I look for. I should imagine non-UK eBay sites are also affected.

Don't fall for these scams!! Spread the word!

Though the scam listings always adopt the same approach (overly cheap, new items in high-demand), they differ in the tell-tale signs relating to the seller's account feedback profile.

These are the signs common to all such listings:

1. The listed item cost is incredibly cheap, far too good to be true (typically between 10% and 20% of what the normal price for the item would be). The item is always someting that is currently very popular and in high-demand, the latest in whatever technology sector, usually PC components. One example was an i7 4790K listing, though in recent months the most common items have been Samsung Pro-series consumer SSDs.

2. The item will always be new.

3. The seller will often have multiple listings for the same item, each described as having many available; in this case, the other item numbers are 282014628312, 282014628792, 282014623125, 282014628568 and 282014627386. All of these are scams. These types of listings appeal to buyers who don't or won't think too much about what it is they're buying. Other listings, perhaps those with the Type 2 feedback profile described below, target those who might be more suspicious but are persuaded to buy on the spot because the quantity available is instead rather low, perhaps less than ten (and there may be just one listing from a particular seller); this appeals to the sense people can have of not wanting to lose out on a bargain (what happens is the listing is simply repeated immediately once the low quantity is sold out). I'm not sure yet if there's a correlation between listing quantity and feedback profile type.

4. If the multiple listings include what appear to be real pictures of the item, every listing will actually use the same pictures. Other listings use stock images.

5. The seller has a 'reasonable' sounding 100% feedback rating, usually in the low to mid tens, but never more than a hundred, ie. what might one regard as a believable novice level user.


The above are features all such listings have in common. Where they differ is in the nature of ther feedback profile. The first type will be as follows:

Type 1

1. Their feedback page as a seller is empty.

2. Their feedback page as a buyer shows dozens of purchases for items which are either not accessible, have no description or occured many months or more than a year earlier.

3. The sellers from whom they have supposedly bought items in #2 above all have very high feedback ratings, typically in the tens or hundreds of thousands. The feedback list will never show any sellers with normal-sounding feedback ratings, with values one might typically expect to see of real sellers, ie. a spread of numbers including tens, hundreds, or low thousands. Instead, the sellers in question only appear to sell very low value items with peculiar descriptions. Scammers use these seller accounts (real or otherwise) to build up moderate 100% feedback ratings by buying a few dozen items that cost virtually nothing (or the seller accounts in question are also fake, I'm not sure; I suspect they may be able to create fake accounts directly).

4. The sellers often have obscure location descriptions, such as, "UK, United Kingdom", ie. no mention of town or county.


The other kind of feedback profile is as follows (currently, item 201616650064 for an 840 Pro 512GB is a typical example, though at some point this listing will vanish since I've reported it to eBay, so I'll add pics later):

Type 2

1. Their feedback page as a buyer is empty.

2. Their feedback page as a seller shows dozens of sales for completely unrelated items, occuring months or more than a year earlier, and are often the same repeat item listing. Checking an individual listing (if possible) will often show a feedback comment from a buyer that doesn't match the listing. These are likely fake transactions which are used merely to build up a moderate 100% feedback rating, ie. no actual goods or money changed hands.

3. The buyers to whom they have supposedly sold items in #2 above all have very low feedback ratings, typically zero. As with Type 1 feedback profiles, the feedback list will never show any buyers with normal-sounding feedback ratings, with values one might typically expect to see of real sellers, ie. a spread of numbers including tens, hundreds, or low thousands.

4. I don't know yet if this is another correlation, but the listing is often outside the UK (in the example above, China).


These indicators could easily be the basis of listings analysis code used by eBay to automatically detect and either suspend or immediately take down such items (and suspend suspect accounts pending enquiry), but they've not done this yet. Hence, until they do, be on your guard!

Yours,

Ian Mapleson BSc.

 

mapesdhs

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Qick update: a friend informs me that the police refer to this type of scam as a, "Long Scam", ie. where someone builds up a positive reputation over time in order to then commit a fraud.

Ian.

 

mapesdhs

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The listings I referred to have ended, total scam takings = 13200 UKP. Some were ended early, so maybe this was done with a hacked account. Either way, watch out for these scams!
 

ssddx

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yes, but its not instant payment if you use paypal. buyer->paypal->seller and the seller does not receive immediate payment (it can take up to 30 days depending on the type of account). until the money is deposited it is not even registered as available and much before then it can be removed immediately.

i do suppose the system can be abused in certain special situations but i would worry more about the "chinese copycat substitute" over non shipment of items or people trying to ship things like old boards to people buying new. while its indian tech support and they can be hard to understand at times i've never had any real trouble with paypal despite having some buyer/seller and seller/buyer issues.

not saying its okay to have scams on there. it is not, just that you make it seem like they have the money in their pocket and that is not true unless people are dumb enough to pay them directly (which ebay forbids)
 

mapesdhs

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I can't comment on how the scammer may or may not be getting the money, but if they're not then I doubt they would be doing the scam. As I say, these have been going on for several years.

True, my wording allows someone to infer the money goes through straight away, but I see nothing wrong in scaring people into being more careful about this sort of thing. PayPal assurances aside, simple fact is that 600 people fell for what should be a blatantly fake bargain and bought them.

And I have certainly had problems with PayPal in the past, they have a pretty rotten reputation for handling problems (they are, afterall, not a bank). Not with good reason is there paypalsucks.com.

Besides, given the way in which the scammers are already manipulating the system, I have absolutely no faith that they haven't found a way round the normal PayPal protection mechanisms. Not saying they have, but many aspects of how these scams are done smack of careful planning, eg. feedback building via buying items that don't exist.

Anyway, I just wanted to try and prevent another spate of potential victims, but the scammers time them for when eBay live response is closed, so it's difficult to get them shut down (another reason why the auctions are usually of a short duration).

 

mapesdhs

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Two more scam listings have appeared (items 111978904012 and 111978895240), and the first -ve feedback from an annoyed (but gullible) buyer. 21 more victims already.

Btw, the police told me they don't investigate online fraud of this kind unless the per-person loss is several thousand, because the cost/time investment isn't worth it, as often there are international connections involved. This is why the scammers go for small amounts; for them it adds up to a lot, but each individual isn't losing that much in absolute terms. Many people don't report such frauds out of embarassment. Who knows how much really goes on, it's probably huge.

Another possibility I suppose is some of these are hacked accounts.


 

mapesdhs

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Thanks! Though TBH I'm probably missing loads of them, only noticing those which happen to fall under the searches I regularly do.
 

mapesdhs

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Two more scams! This time I'm including screenshots so people can see what I'm talking about (the file names show the relevant item numbers):

http://www.sgidepot.co.uk/misc/272306509526.jpg
http://www.sgidepot.co.uk/misc/272305921869.jpg

I have of course reported both listings as fraudulent, so hopefully they'll get taken down asap.


alexoiu, perhaps Samsung should look into this issue more closely? A hell of a lot of people are getting conned by these criminals. Not remotely Samsung's fault of course, but I've already explained to eBay several times in the past two years how they could easily prevent this sort of thing, so far they've not acted. Perhaps Samsung can apply some pressure?

Ian.

 

mapesdhs

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It's been a while, but the scammers are back! Here are the URLs and screenshots, this time both for Samsung 850 Pro 512GB units (both somewhat obvious frauds):

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Samsung-850-Pro-512GB-Internal-2-5-MZ-7KE512BW-SSD/263484490152
http://www.sgidepot.co.uk/misc/263484490152.jpg

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Brand-New-Factory-Sealed-Samsung-850-PRO-512GB-2-5-MZ-7KE512BW-SSD/323060930038
http://www.sgidepot.co.uk/misc/323060930038.jpg

Listings reported, but beware, there are probably others I've not seen yet. Please report the listings aswell, ebay needs to be pestered about this issue.

Ian.

 

mapesdhs

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An update to all this, and a warning: there are a lot of fake or knock-off GPUs on ebay at the moment, eg. GTX 1080 Ti for 90 UKP, GTX 960 4GB for 45 UKP, that sort of thing. The listings are either for items which just don't exist at all (you'll never receive anything), or the product sent out is a rebrand of some older tech with a dodgy bios installed to fool the card into thinking it's something it isn't, eg. the 960 4GB is actually a 600 series card with 1GB, which means applications can produce errors and crash because they're trying to utilise resources which don't exist. For example, see this video by Craft Computing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdH4EfXQ-1A

So, as always, if it sounds too good to be true, then it usually is.

Ian.

 

mapesdhs

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Another nonsense listing on ebay for an 850 Pro 512GB units, the usual insanely low price:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Lightly-Used-Samsung-850-Pro-512GB-3D-V-NAND-SSD-MZ-7KE512BW-6Gb-s-2-5-7mm/222927637641
http://www.sgidepot.co.uk/misc/222927637641.jpg

Don't fall for these ripoff merchants, report the listings! (ditto all these fake GPUs that keep appearing, even in ebay's own suggested list which is annoying) Until ebay feels the pressure from people complaining and reporing these fraudsters, they won't do anything about it.

Ian.

 

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