eBay have failed to shut down the scam where sellers’ PayPal email payment address is changed diverting funds into scammers accounts. This weekend, yet another seller contacted Tamebay having fallen victim to the scam in what’s becoming a steady trickle of devastated small business owners.
The scam goes like this: At some point a seller account on eBay is compromised. The scammer checks the PayPal email payment address, buys a URL with a similar (usually only one letter different) address and sets up an email address. The scammer sets up a PayPal account with the fake email address. They then go back into eBay, pick a few listings with relatively low value but high sell through rates and change the PayPal email payment address to the fake one. They then sit back and watch the funds roll in.
The daily take rate may be low but over months the sums add up and thousands of pounds are stolen. In the latest case, the seller lost £14,000 from a total of 3260 transactions over a four month period.
The human cost of fraud
This is no victimless fraud and is taking a heavy toll on the sellers who are being scammed. In this latest case the seller was losing all faith in his business plan and pouring money into the business to keep it afloat. The seller was questioning why they were doing everything right but at the end of the month the predicted funds simply weren’t there.
Why haven’t eBay taken action to stop this PayPal email payment address fraud?
It’s been a month since we first reported on the case of Richard Crisp who lost £54,000. Since then we’ve heard of several other cases so the question has to be asked why haven’t eBay taken action, especially as we know this scam has been taking place since 2017. That’s two years that eBay could have taken action.
Why are there no alerts when a PayPal email payment address is changed on active listings? Why is there no warning on the seller dashboard? What are eBay doing to prevent this from happening to you? Or is it already happening to you and you just aren’t aware you’re being scammed?
The question every seller that has contacted us is asking is why have eBay done nothing to stop this happening and when will they take action?
eBay blame PayPal, PayPal blame eBay. Neither take responsiblity
In the latest incident, as is always the case eBay refunded the fees associated with the hacked listings and directed the seller to PayPal to recover the funds. PayPal washed their hands of everything saying “I would suggest you push a bit harder on eBay, the fraud happened on their site (you can’t add a PayPal email address to an eBay listing via PayPal, it has to be done with eBay), regardless of the bank that processed the funds. PayPal process the funds according to what email address we’re told to send the funds to by eBay.”
eBay also refuse to take responsibility saying “I would advise you to insist on pursuing PayPal as they are the people who hold control of the money. eBay never handle transactions.”
PayPal watch the money go missing
In this latest case, the seller was in contact with a buyer who supplied some details from the payment that went to the scammer. When PayPal were contacted there will still funds in the fraudulent account but rather than freezing the account PayPal left it live, the account finished verification and PayPal then paid out the funds to the scammers account!
What about consumers’ personal information?
Apart from the continual fraud which is adding up to 100s of 1,000s of pounds, possibly millions, there is another aspect to this organised crime which hasn’t been considered. What is happening to the personal details of the consumer victims who have unwittingly paid scammers?
Consumers are sending payments to scammers including their PayPal email address, their home address and a record of the item that they have purchased. We don’t know and have no way of telling if this personally identifiable information is being added to scam lists to target them in future, but by not shutting the scam down eBay are allowing the personal details of innocent consumers to be harvested.
It’s likely that the primary aim of these scams is to illegally steal large sums of money. As a side line, they are also gaining a list of thousands of innocent consumers.
Are you a victim? Get in touch with Tamebay
If you have discovered this fraud on your account then please get in touch. We will if you wish keep your details confidential but we would like to assess the scale of this fraud and all indications suggest that this isn’t just a handful of cases perpetrated by a bedroom hacker. This is a highly sophisticated fraud being run by criminals.