Its never nice when it happens but it looks like I’m a victim of fraud. A while ago I sold my old Dell Inspiron 5100 laptop on eBay so I could purchase one that was more suited to my needs. There was nothing wrong with the machine, it had served me well, but it was time for the drive to be wiped and for it to find a new home.
Like many people I figured eBay would be the best place to sell the laptop and indeed purchase a new one, so I took a photo and listed it. After a few hiccups where Nigerian scammers attempted to get me to send the laptop to Lagos I sold the laptop to a local person (relatively speaking anyway) who requested to be able to pickup after paying for the item. I agreed to this and so after receiving the payment in a completed state via paypal I provided my address for him to collect. He did so the next day.
Things started to go wrong a few days later when paypal put a hold on the funds that had been sent to me in the sale for “Investigation”. While rather unusual I have known this to happen before, especially with larger payments and as such wasn’t too concerned and decided to see what came of it. I did hold off leaving the buyer feedback in case there was a problem.
Unfortunately things took a turn for the worse some weeks later when I got confirmation from paypal via e-mail that the funds had in fact been reversed and I was both without laptop and payment. Only recently have I spoken to paypal and found there is categorically no way to recover the funds through them and that the buyer used fraudulent means to transfer them to me in the first place.
This leaves me in a nasty state of limbo. I want to take more action but feel I’m rapidly reaching the end of the line in what I *can* actually do. I’ve got eBay to place an unpaid item strike on the users account, but this has only served to get me my final value fees and listing fees back, a mere £15 compared with a £400 sale. Contacting the buyer proved useless; no response was received to e-mails and the phone number listed turned out the be a Keighley take away shop.
I noted however that the buyer had logged onto and used his eBay account because he had bought further items (laptops and computers) from other sellers, no doubt intending to defraud them too. I contacted one seller (who sold an expensive item to him before me) and was told that the sale was in fact OK, but I decided to leave negative feedback in order to warn other sellers about this individual. I also made a note of the other sellers who had sold to him in case I needed to contact them, after all if he’d defrauded a whole lot of us then we had strength in numbers. Surprise, surprise within hours of leaving the negative feedback the buyer made his feedback private. So he can log on and access his account when it suits him, but not read my messages which were there for him also – clearly a fraud.
The problem is where to go from here. I could contact the police, but with such a low (relatively speaking anyhow) priced item they are unlikely to investigate the case, at least not to a point where I get the money or the laptop and its likely to use up a fair whack of my time speaking to them and filling in forms. An insurance claim is useless as I intended to sell the item – it wasn’t stolen from me in the direct sense – so they haven’t have any interest in it. The last option I considered was a debt collection agency as I have a name and address for the individual, but I can’t be sure if the details are correct and all agencies have fees associated with them and I could stand to lose yet more money if they cannot trace the buyer.
All suggestions and comments are welcome of course, but it looks like I’ve lost the laptop with no payment and thats really not a nice situation to be in, in fact I’m rather unhappy and annoyed to be honest 🙁