Auctions Fraud


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Have you ever made a purchase or sold anything on an online auction? Is it secure to transact in this way? Not quite, if you are not aware of some loopholes that a clever scammer has in store to cheat you. But if you are aware of how to prevent yourself from being cheated, you can enjoy online auctions, just as much. Let’s tell you how.

Mr. Emmanuel wanted to gift his son Josh a telescope, when he turned 12. He accessed a few online auction websites and finally chose one that gave him a very good deal. He bid, won, and paid for the product using his debit card. The product was to be shipped to him within a week. 10 days passed by and the telescope wasn’t delivered. He checked with the auction site and got the street address of the seller, he found that the street address wasn’t valid. The seller was nowhere! How did the seller suddenly disappear? He did not, for there was no such seller in the first place.

Mr. Emmanuel had become a victim of online auction fraud. When at an online auction, make sure you gather sufficient information to validate the claims made by the seller. If there are unrealistic claims of benefits, it most likely is a fake. Avoid purchasing such products.

How is it done?

As it happened in Mr. Emmanuel’s case, the seller registered as a potential seller with the online auction website. The seller advertised fake products for auction. Now, buyers such as Mr. Emmanuel are at loss, with neither the seller’s whereabouts nor the product.

There are other ways sellers make a scam. When they put up a product for sale, they register several dummy bidders and constantly increase the bid on that product. This is called shill bidding.

All buyers are not non-scammers either. Sellers need to be wary of them too! To make a fraud, a buyer may bid a very low price for a product. Using a different name, the same buyer bids a very high price. This discourages others from bidding for the same product. Just before the auction ends, the buyer withdraws his/her high bid, leaving the product for himself/herself at the low bid. This is called bid shielding.

What is the impact?

If you get involved in an online auction fraud, you are left with either a faulty product, a product you did not intent to buy, or worst of all, no product at all.

When a seller knows of a prospective buyer like you, the seller contacts you directly to make a deal outside of the auction website. If you make such a deal—such deals are quite lucrative—you cease to have whatever protection that the auction website could offer and are susceptible to fraud.

What can you do to avoid it?

Here is what is in your power to prevent online auction scams:
Be aware of phishing. Verify that you are receiving emails from the correct source and that you are logging in at the correct website.
When making payment, prefer using your credit card over online transfer. Using a credit card give you the opportunity of a chargeback in case the transaction turns out a fraud. Use debit card, wire transfer, or money order only when you completely trust the seller.
Use reputed escrow services. An escrow service mediates a buyer and a seller. They accept money from buyers and release them to a seller only when the buyer confirms that the product was received to his/her satisfaction. But be wary of sellers or buyers who themselves pose as an escrow service to cheat the other—a buyer posing as an escrow service gets a product released without making payment, or a seller poses as an escrow service to trick the buyer from making a payment.
DO NOT entertain emails received from outside of the auction website mentioning that the highest bidder has withdrawn and you are now entitled for a product. They veer you off the auction website and you lose any protection that the website may provide.
NEVER make a deal with a seller outside the auction. Although they sound lucrative, you are at a very high risk of being cheated.
READ the auction website’s terms and conditions, buyer protection policy, refund policy before making a transaction. Here, they list in how many days the order will be fulfilled, what if the product you receive is not the same as what was advertised, and so on. Also check that the policies are fair on both buyers and sellers.
Check if the product you are purchasing has appropriate warranty and documentation with it. If not, make sure that you intend to purchase it without that protection. Check if shipping and delivery is covered by the seller or if you have to bear those costs.
Check that you are not purchasing a product that you are not allowed to possess lawfully.
BE WARY of products that offer revolutionary results. In most cases, they are fraudulent claims.
DO NOT respond to emails that ask for your personal information, such as your log in details or credit card details.
READ the online auction website for feedback on the seller and a rating that they give to sellers and buyers. Most online auctions rate the sellers and buyers based on their transactions’ feedback.
READ the product features and the model number that you intend to purchase. Verify these with what is being advertised by the seller.
When giving your credit card details or your debit account details at a website, check that the Internet connection you are using is secure. Look for the lock at the bottom or https (an‘s’ appended to ‘http’) in the address field of your browser. These indicate that the connection is a secure one.
Avoid making a transaction if anything in the auction seems suspicious to you.
If you are cheated on any product purchase, be sure to post a note on the online auction website and let them know personally.

Sharing and Caring

You know there are so many of your friends and family who are attracted to online auctions for the benefits they offer. You now know how to protect yourself from a fraud. Make your friends and family aware of this too; you will definitely help them prevent an online auction fraud.


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I'm sorry , but you are giving advice how to avoid and spot online auctions on a carders board ?
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