Fraudsters manipulated eBay listings to defraud customers

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The US Department of Justice announced yesterday that two fraudsters had manipulated eBay listings to defraud customers.

A US federal jury convicted the pair of Romanian nationals over a scheme which infected shoppers’ computers with malware to steal their credit card details and other information to sell on the dark market websites.

Fraudsters had created 1,000 fraudulent eBay listings for automobiles, motorcycles and other high-priced goods. Photos of the listings were infected with malware which redirected computers that clicked on the image to fake webpages, designed to resemble legitimate eBay pages. Shoppers paid for the goods but never received the items or their money back. The verdict states that this has resulted in a loss of millions of dollars.

The evidence as presented at a trial set out an international criminal enterprise with victims around the world, including people here in Northern Ohio. While they stole millions of dollars, what they thought was a veil of anonymity was no protection against law enforcement, who worked diligently to track them down and bring them to justice in an American courthouse.”
– Justin Herdman, US Attorney of the Northern District of Ohio

This news highlight the dynamic landscape in which international criminals utilise sophisticated cyber methods to thrive on fraud.

What is eBay doing to tackle fraud?

eBay say that they use automated systems to track fraudulent behaviour. It scans and analyses the contents of every message sent through their messages platform, including messages between users, to detect and prevent fraudulent activity or violations of eBay’s User Agreement, including the incorporated terms, notices, rules, and policies.

eBay gives advice to buyers in regards to combating fraud. They say if a buyer loses money to fraudsters, eBay Money Back Guarantee will only reimburse genuine transactions on eBay. eBay advises fraud victims to be “more cautious” when spending money. They say that buyers should look out for warning signs such as short duration listings, heavy discounted or sold-out items, and off-eBay contact or unsafe payment methods.

In 2017, more than 42,000 reports were filed to Auction Fraud, Britain’s fraud and cybercrime centre which blamed eBay for allowing fraudsters to post fake listings on their platform.

4 Responses

  1. The article makes it sound like the scam was a lot more elaborate than it actually was. It sounds like they just had hyperlinks in the images (in the description) that took them to a phishing site, where customers would enter their personal details.

    This type of scam is very commonplace. The headline makes it sound like the scammers actually manipulated something on eBay’s system, which doesn’t appear at all to be the case. Anyone can enter basic HTML in their description, including hyperlinks to scrupulous websites.

  2. What is more of a concern is the millions lost to fraudsters using ebays only rules set up to rip people off. The old not as described, item not received, used and returned, return an empty box scams etc must make this one look like pocket money.

  3. Our items are constantly copied for scams and eBay do almost nothing about it. We report these weekly if not daily and the result is customers getting ripped off and our brands get damaged. Worse still, these scammers now using the “promote your listing” tool. Also it does nothing for trust of the eBay site. You don’t get this on Amazon!

  4. Ebay need to work on the other frauds as well – Shill bidding, location fraud, fake goods, multi-variation manipulation etc, etc.

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