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 🙁


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  1. Raby Whyte Said,

    March 31, 2007 @ 1:08 am

    so you have his address? Could pay him a visit with a couple of friends…Or send a nasty letter…let me know if you want me to come along for support, I have been scammed before and it doesnt feel nice!

  2. Kieran Said,

    March 31, 2007 @ 1:03 pm

    Thanks for your support.

    As I say in my post however, there is nothing that confirms to me that his name or address is correct. As such we could go over to “his” house and find that it wasn’t his house at all and that would be a wasted journey and wasted time for all who went.

    Its also questionable what I could do once I got there even if it was the right house; we would be in no position to force him to hand over either the money or the laptop, even if I recognised him. We would only be able to hope the numbers of people scared him into paying up or handing back the computer, but thats never certain. Time and manner of arrival might help of course.

    A letter could easily be returned as non-deliverable although it might be worth a try, and I’ll be sure to send one soon.

  3. Norman Ralph Said,

    March 31, 2007 @ 5:40 pm

    I would send him a letter and report him to the police, regardless of recovery, it is worth making a complaint and getting it logged. This case on its own might not be big, but if enough people make complaints then eventually it becomes a big case.


  4. Chris Worfolk Said,

    April 1, 2007 @ 3:43 pm

    What did PayPal say to gip you our of their seller protection or whatever it’s called?

  5. Kieran Said,

    April 1, 2007 @ 4:15 pm

    What did PayPal say to gip you our of their seller protection or whatever it’s called?

    The way they got out of it was because the buyer collected the item. They require that the item is posted to a “confirmed” address and is trackable using an online tracking number such as royal mail track and trace.

    Essentially the majority of eBay transactions are not covered in one way or another. They are as good as frauds themselves 🙁

  6. Norman Ralph Said,

    April 1, 2007 @ 4:22 pm

    They say caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) but if nothing else this proves caveat venditor (let the seller beware).

    It is a really nasty thing for anyone to go through – I have been the victim of fraud myself. I hope you get something back, even if it is only the sight of him behind bars.

    As commented before, at least file a complaint of theft.


  7. Kieran Said,

    April 1, 2007 @ 4:43 pm

    I’m gathering the information I need from various sources and then I’m reporting him to the police. Do you know the best way of getting in touch with them? Id rather not have to spend ages down the station filling in forms if it can be helped but if thats the only way then I’ll have to.

    Sorry to hear you have fallen victim to fraud in the past too – it seems like its happening to more and more people these days. Whatever happened to good old fashioned trust *sigh*

  8. Norman Ralph Said,

    April 1, 2007 @ 4:50 pm

    I know what you mean, there just isn’t any trust these days. It’s a vicious cycle too, as i am sure you will now be even more wary about buying and selling.

    I can’t see a way round the form filling. If you are going to report them to West Yorkshire Police, start by giving them a ring on 0845 6060606. I had to go and give a statement and provide a couple of bits of paper (bank statements in my case). They should let you know over the telephone what the procedure is, so if its too long winded then I guess you could knock it on the head then.


  9. Kieran Said,

    April 1, 2007 @ 4:56 pm

    Thanks for the number, just what I was after 🙂

    I’m not going to be more wary of buying and selling, I’m just going to be wary of PayPal and how they offer sellers no protection. In future I’m going to demand payment by cash for collection and cheque for posted items, waiting for the latter to clear of course. Because unlike a “cleared” PayPal payment, a cleared cheque truly means you have the money safe. Cash, well, that speaks for its self.

    Being wary of buying and selling in a community environment after such an incident would be letting the cretins win and we just can’t be doing that.

  10. Paul Said,

    April 2, 2007 @ 9:40 am

    Unbelievable…You must be gutted

    I know I’d most certainly take a few mates round there, you are probably correct, he’s given an incorrect addr as he did give a duff tel no but for the sake of knowing I take a trip out there to be sure!

    I got done years ago when buying my first house and it sure leaves a nasty in your mouth.

    It is disappointing that ebay aren’t prepared to assist you, closing his account, well that wouldn’t work as he’ll just sign up under a different name but surely there is something they can do to protect future purchasers?

  11. Kieran Said,

    April 2, 2007 @ 5:39 pm

    Thanks for your support Paul, I certainly see what you mean about taking a trip over there. I’ll have a chat with some of my mates and see if we can’t get something sorted.

    I’m sorry to hear you got done in the past. The more people talk to me about this incident the more I realise that being defrauded isn’t something that only happens to a few people – it happens a lot.

    eBay, PayPal, the whole family, stink of just doing the bare minimum and towing the crap policy line. Its a miracle they are as successful as they are; you would think they could afford to assist fraud victims better seeings as how many good transactions they must have to have such a high user base.

  12. Paul Said,

    April 2, 2007 @ 10:04 pm

    You can take Otis with you as well if you like 😉 if he’s there my dog will sort him out!!

    Unfortunately it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better. The frustrating this is, the credit card companies do seem to be willing to help when this happens, I know plenty of people caught up in the card fraud thing and the card guys seem to be on the ball, ring up if they think something suspicious is going on, credit the money back to you etc…Its a shame paypal dont take the same stance but thats probably getting into legal stuff I know nothing about…but surely they cant just leave you high and dry. If the money wasn’t in your account, you would not have given the laptop to him.

    Will make me think twice before I sell something else on ebay, thats for sure.

  13. Kieran Said,

    April 2, 2007 @ 10:47 pm

    Unfortunately its the willingness of the card guys to refund money that is part of the cause of the problem. What goes on behind the scenes when your money is refunded by the credit card company is they start to try and recoup the funds. Even if the buyer was just being an arse and got a refund from the card company because “he could” the company diligently goes about demanding money. Organisations like PayPal, rather than defending their corner, receive a claim like this from a credit card company that has issued a refund to one of their customers and just hand over the cash and leave their sellers of business account holders to foot the bill (aka taking their money).

    As you can see the actual seller or business is so far removed from the initial action that caused the chain of events they haven’t got close to a fighting chance to say “Oi!, thats not how it happened, the money is rightfully mine.”

    By all means buy and sell on eBay, but most certainly consider the methods of payments you accept. In future for anything much more than £50 I intend to demand cash if they intend to collect, or a cleared cheque if they want it posting. That was my contact with the buyer is direct and I have a fair chance with getting my money or compensation should anything go wrong.

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