Feedback extorter demands payment for positives

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Reports are circulating of a feedback extortion racket where sellers are demanding $100 in exchange for positive feedback.

A thread originally posted on the , and reposted on eBayink comments, explains how a seller received an email from a buyer, saying “We are prepared to leave you 5 Positive Feedbacks or 5 Negative Feedbacks depending on your actions. In a nutshell, we are in the business of selling Positive Feedbacks to eBay Sellers for $20 each, totaling $100 for 5 Positive Feedbacks.”

The email warns against reporting the demands to eBay and threatens “If you refuse to purchase the 5 Positive Feedbacks, we will leave you 5 Negative Feedbacks for starters…. we have enough [eBay accounts] to consistently leave you Negative Feedbacks for months resulting in you having to shut down your business.”

Whilst this might appear a truly frightening prospect it’s not only something that eBay would take extremely seriously, but is also without a doubt illegal. Any extortion attempt along these lines should be reported to eBay as soon as it is received, and also to the police.

Regardless of how many user accounts may be involved (assuming the rumour is true) the perpetrators would soon be identifiable if negative feedback was left. It should also be remembered that feedback extortion is the very rare exception rather than the norm.

31 Responses

  1. “It should also be remembered that feedback extortion is the very rare exception rather than the norm.”

    Sorry Chris but you are writing nonsense here because the rules have changed.Now feedback on ebay is comparable to paypal disputes.You get a certain % and you get suspended – be it temporarily or forever.

    The point is that ebay make those suspensions automatically and your emails will not be read properly.They may remove a couple of bad feedbacks but they will not do so continuosly.

    And IF you should get suspended you will have serious problems to explain to ebay that you were being extorted by someone.The system will be showing that a number of customer have complained about you , the % is bad – you are bad and need to”ship out” as apparently you could not “shape up”

    I am very frightened and concerned because of this.

  2. ebay has created this monster by creating a climate of fear
    with their draconian application of SNP,

    If this threat is indeed true, ebay needs to stop the SNP program, and the suspension of sellers because of negative feedback,
    until their system is less open to abuse by these feedback blackmailers

  3. It was inevitable this would happen.
    Once other ‘bad’ ebayers’ learn of this, there is likely to be an explosion of ‘buyers’ trying it on, be it by asking for money or favorable goods in return.
    for + feedback.

    Ebay might well have thought the new SNP rules were the right thing to do, but now they stand a chance of really mucking up the system (that’s beyond the damage they have aready caused).

    The next thing wil be people selling ID’s with a clean 100% feedback, so you can start again.
    HEY thats not a bad idea…..is it!!!!!!

    Yes this is all extortion, but ebay allowed these people & the mess to happen & won’t be able to stop all.

  4. I have absolutely no confidence in eBay being quick enough or competent enough to sort something like this out.

    They have implemented wholesale changes but do not have enough “live” staff to cope with the fall out.

  5. What annoys me is that this was just so obvious right from the start. Look at the sudden explosion of emails you now get from new IDs in China offering supposedly cheap electronic goods for resale. Hell, I must get at least 5 a day. As soon as this feedback ransom threat spreads (which will probably only take a few weeks) then we’re all on borrowed time.

    As others have mentioned, it wouldn’t be so bad if we had human beings at eBay watching over our accounts, but we don’t. We have computers automatically ending our careers in a split second. Then we have weeks of receiving cut and pasted email responses from eBay customer services when we ask them for help.

    It seems as though in the last 12 months eBay have employed a complete bonehead to run the show. If they’re even suspending their ex-employees under the new SNP policy then what hope have we got? Even Richard from eBay UK doesn’t know what hes talking about. He’s been caught out twice in the last week alone giving incorrect answers and conflicting advice (once to myself).

    The sad fact is… eBay are just so nonchalant, blasé and incompetent that there will be thousands of us put out of business before they get it sorted out (if they ever do).

  6. I second that jamie. Ebays new policy means sellers are walking on a knife edge while buyers can do no wrong. It was obvious that this would cause feedback blackmail and extortion. The feedback scamsters can rest assured that any suspended sellers wont get taken seriously by ebay staff once they become suspended and branded as ‘bad’ by ebay.

    Ebay dont listen to any appeals for mercy, they behave like the cyber men in Dr Who.

    In 1997 it was considered acceptable for an internet business to seem faceless, have no ‘real’ point of contact and only communicate through automates and virtual means. By 1999 E businesses realised that it wouldn’t work long term if they continued with the whole ‘you are dealing with a robot’ approach to customer service.

    Ebay however still hide behind the fact that they are a huge e business to avoid any level of human interaction with their customers. It simply doesn’t wash these days.

    The site goes from bad to worse,

  7. By all means, report it to eBay, but if you want results, step it up.

    If you are the victim of this email, or a similar email, ABSOLUTELY report it to your local police department or better yet, your FBI office or the U.S. Attorney for the District Court you live in. Don’t take no for an answer. If this is one person, its blackmail, extortion. If multiple people are working in tandem, this is not only a shake-down, its called racketeering, a possible RICO (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act violation (18 U.S.C. 1962). That is a serious federal offense. Criminal penalties may include seizure of any property used as part of, or acquired because of, the crime as well as face imprisonment for “not more than 20 years (or for life if the violation is based on a racketeering activity for which the maximum penalty includes life imprisonment)” (18 U.S.C. 1963(a))

  8. SLW,

    If I lived in the US then I wouldn’t hesitate to report it to the police. But, here in the UK, the police will be about as interested as eBay themselves i.e. they couldn’t care less. That’s maybe a little unfair, the fact is the UK police are so bogged down with bureaucracy that anything other than a motoring violation is usually avoided.

    The other point is that the police (either here or in the USA) would have their hands tied because most of these racketeers will be based abroad (Nigeria springs to mind almost instantly). The threats of 20 years in prison won’t mean a thing to them. In the UK you can get away without a prison sentence for all but the most serious crime at present.

  9. Jamie Jimbob

    You took the words right out of my mouth.

    Can just you just imagine walking into my local cop shop (that’s after waiting an hour to be let in, with the que).

    Me;
    “Officer, I wish to report someone [don’t know their full details or whereabouts) try to extort money from me on ebay. for + feedback!!……”

    Police;
    “Oh sorry sir, can you come back tomorrow, when we have CID officer here, I’m sure they would be only too willing to listen to your complaint”

    YES…….As IF!!!!!,

  10. gerry007

    Yes, you would be laughed out of the police station without a doubt. Our cop shop is closed for business anyway these days… *sigh*

  11. The problem isn’t whether or not you can sort it out, It’s can you survive the suspension/restriction while it’s being sorted.

  12. The talk about police reports is ridiculous.Do you think you can send a copy of the police report to ebay so they reinstate you again?

    well , well , they will not even read it.They just look at your ID , see you it is marked as in breach of SNP and send you the standard text that they always send in these cases.

    That’s it , case closed!

  13. In my experience, “get a police report” is PayPal-speak for “we don’t want to make a decision”. I put in a complaint about a seller whom I had paid for 15 items but only received 13. PayPal advised me to go to the police to make a complaint about the missing items. The total value was about $20. I should probably have gone, I’m sure the police could do with a good laugh.

  14. Mandy,

    You’re right. The fact is, the police shouldn’t NEED to be involved. These matters are something eBay should easily be capable of sorting out themselves. The reality is somewhat different as we all know.

  15. Oh Stanley….’another fine mess ebay have got us into…….Doohhh.

    That’s an idea… Let’s all wote for Homer Simpson to be the next CEO of ebay.

    We could all go down Moes bar, and get thougthly stinking while we are at it….
    If we don’t laugh, we’ll all cry (and boy can I cry)

  16. ……so both Ebay and the police need more staff ! Ebay needs to take this very seriously and needs to be seen publicly the take it seriously and sort it out.
    Police attitude is a joke and the result of too much paper work. Maybe someone should redefine the word “crime” for them.

  17. Something similar happened to me a few years ago.

    I checked my emails one Monday morning & someone had won multiple items from multiple sellers (including us). They demanded that we send them £10 or they’d neg us.

    I went straight to the feedback console, intending to neg them first. But several other sellers had had the same idea & the account in question was already suspended because it had reached a feedback rating of -3 (just a few hours after he sent out the emails).

    Since the new feedback changes were announced, I’ve been wondering what would happen if such a thing was repeated today. I guess we’re about to find out. But while I didn’t bat an eyelid a few years ago, today I would be seriously concerned about my account being suspended. Even if it was only a temporary suspension while eBay investigated, I would still be seriously out of pocket, despite having done nothing wrong.

  18. same here..

    trying desperately to resolve all feedback problems and issues at the moment, still getting negs and big bad “neg-neutrals” left right and centre.. across the several powerseller Ids that are still running (2 still off as per my previous post) hoping to get the old wages paid this month ;( balancing on a knife edge with all my staff and suppliers to pay – great fun.

    Send me free ***** or I’ll neg you, give me free postage or your getting a neg, etc etc etc I’m being extorted right now, and having to pay just to keep my livelihoods and my staff going too. And some of them STILL NEG YOU when you send free stuff or refund!!!!

    If ebay are “helping” the blackmailers to do this, are they effectively “complicit” in the crime?

    An individual is complicit in a crime if they are aware of its occurrence, have the ability to report the crime, but fail to do so. As such the individual effectively allows the criminals to carry out a crime despite easily being able to stop them, either directly or by contacting the authorities thus making them a de-facto accessory to the crime rather than innocent bystanders.

    Ebay allows the criminals to carry out the crime despite easily being able to stop them.

    Not in the mood to be laughed out of the police station, so going to get my head down, and refund, and send stuff for free and cross my fingers, checking several times a day that the SNP trawler hasn’t pulled in any more nets…

    yours swimming feverishly

    shoal

  19. Just to add insult to injury, take a look at this incredible eBay seller. He is AN EBAY EMPLOYEE!!!!!

    https://members.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewUserPage&userid=frogswamp

    HE HAS 19,000 ITEMS FOR SALE, IS STILL TRADING AND NO SUSPENSION!!!!

    Meanwhile, hundreds of dolphins are being suffocated for hardly setting a foot wrong.

    Please excuse the capital letters but I just cannot comprehend what’s happening on eBay at the moment. Sheer exasperation.

  20. Just joking about the name change……Seems appropriate to loose 1/2 your name when you’ve lost ALL your business (was gerry 007,,,,now shorter)

    We have been suspended now for over 45 days. (2nd 30 day period still running, with no return emails from ebay).

    In a funny sort of way, I am relivered we are not ‘out there’ at the moment. as at least if we are not selling, then at least we cannot be NEGGED by the new generation of ebayers that choose extortion against fair & proper trading.

    (Funny it’s that, that ebay is accussing SNP sellers of ………………?????).

  21. gerry006-1/2,

    I beg to differ my friend but they currently have 18762 items listed for sale as of 14:14 BST.

  22. Judging by the lack of posts re suspensions on the US boards, they haven’t started implementing the same rules or they’re not going to on the .com site.

  23. So is it only .co.uk that’s getting these unfair SNP suspensions then???
    How fair is that!!……

  24. We had a client that got hit with this kind of extortion about a year ago. Took them 3 weeks of emails to eBay before anything was done about it.

    I’m not surprised to see this problem pop up more frequently without negs for buyers.

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