Alert: eBay and SquareTrade scam, Part 2
Are you being scammed? Need to know the definitive answer right now?
READ THIS ARTICLE and then come back to this page when you're finished (if you like).
Infopackets Reader Brent W. writes:
" Dear Dennis,
After Googling for some information concerning a possible eBay scam, I stumbled across your article entitled 'Alert: eBay and SquareTrade scam.' Thank goodness for your web site!
The *exact* same scam is happening to me as it did with Rupert H. in the article. I was so excited about my 'too good to be true' deal, that I nearly bought a 2003 Harley Road King for $5000 off the eBay Canada site. (I don't know how I got there because I started on the US one-item number 4554173433 -- the guys eBay id was 'diamonddust7').
The scammer wanted me to email him directly, and told me that the details about the auction had changed -- big stuff, like the year of the bike, the size, and brand, etc. He said the bike would need to be shipped in from Italy, but it would be at no cost to me. He claimed to be a member of Square Trade and wanted me to send money to them so they could hold it until I got the bike -- but Square Trade did not have him listed as a seller.
As the night went on, I decided to do a little research through eBay. Later, I found out that the scammer had dropped all his auctions from eBay and was no longer a seller -- even though his eBay account had 177 positive feedbacks! And during all of this, he was still writing me emails asking for eBay ID, address, phone number, and full name 'to get me set up with Square Trade.'
This scam has got to stop! Can you please tell me, is there any way to stop these guys? "
You aren't the first person to email me this question. In short: yes, there is something you can do that could put the scammer out of business -- at least, temporarily (read on)!
I believe that the one most effective way to put this scammer out of business is to have his web site shut down, since it's the domain name "transaction-squaretrade.com" that lures people into the scam in the first place (see article #1 for more info on that). However, others will disagree with this methodology and say that it's a much better idea to contact the Police or "FBI" [Federal Bureau of Investigation, if you're a US Citizen] and have them take care of this. It certainly is worth a try; however, going this route may also prove to be fruitless simply because:
Side note: A Domain Registrar is a company that manages web site names (or "domain names") on the Internet. In short, a domain name points to an IP address, which then points to a web site name (and vice versa). In a simpler sense, IP addresses and domain names "map" a computer or web site on the Internet. For example: the web site "Tucows.com" is the Domain Registrar for infopackets.com.
Now, if you think about it: the fraudster's web site really *is* the only physical lead you have -- and it's the only thing that keeps on getting others lured into his scam. Having said that: the best way to put an end to the fraudster's web site is to contact his Domain Registrar and complain [hint: when emailing the Registrar, include links or screenshots of the illegal activity].
Shut down the scammer: complain to the Domain Registrar
If the domain registrar gets enough complaints, they will -- hopefully -- take action and relinquish [take control] of the scammer's domain name: transaction-squaretrade.com.
The only downside to this methodology is that the fraudster will (in all likelihood) open up another domain name, similar to the previous, and the scam will begin again. The "upside" to this approach is that: if the scammer's web site is relinquished enough times, his domain name will be less effective than the previous, and his scam will also be less effective than the previous. Eventually, the con-artist may give up and move onto something else -- or at least, that's what we hope for.
To find out the scammer's Domain Registrar, simply visit dnsStuff.com and look down the left of the page for the "whois" field. And don't forget: although the domain registrar for transaction-squaretrade.com is valid, please keep in mind that the contact information for the domain is most likely forged. So if you're looking for the scammer's home phone number and street address in his domain record, you most likely won't find it there.
What else can you do to stop the scam from propagating?
One other very important thing you should do is to alert others of the scam. Go onto online forums and complain. Go onto eBay and complain (user opinions count!). The more people who read about the scam, the less effective the scam becomes. And most importantly: link to this page or the previous so that others will get the full story!
Hot question: Can you get your money back if your were scammed?
The short answer: highly unlikely -- especially if you sent the money via wire transfer. Why? Simply because scammers know the best way to make it next-to-impossible for you to get your money back once the scam plays through (which is also why it's called a *scam*!). The only recourse is to contact the companies or parties involved in the transaction, explain the circumstance, and try to have it reversed. Good luck!
Update 20050710: This article has been updated -- and you won't believe the news! Click to view:
Hotter question: ... "if I email you something, can you tell me if this is a scam"?
Please don't. Just incase you haven't already read the following statement in the other 2 parts to this article:
SquareTrade does not do "deals". If someone says they're using SquareTrade as a "third party" so that you can get your money back if the deal somehow sours or if you're dissatisfied, it's a SCAM! I repeat: SquareTrade does not accept cash, store goods, or work as a "third party" for deals that have not yet gone through. Furthermore: if the person you're dealing with has emailed you repeatedly "on the side" and says that they prefer you to wire the money directly to them, it's a SCAM!
This article is part 2 of a 4 part series. Click to read the remaining series: