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article imagePhishy Business on eBay, Accusations and the Hijack of a $20,000 Online Transaction

By Kyle Pallanik     Dec 7, 2007 in Technology
A Calgary man was scammed out of $20,000 for the purchase of a car in a transaction that he thought was eBay. CBC News reported on the story and eBay has accused them of getting their facts wrong.
The initial report by CBC released on December 3rd, indicated that Shaqir Duraj, a Calgary bakery owner is one of 1,000 Canadians who have been scammed on the eBay auction site by a technique known as hijacking. According to the report, the RCMP said that eBay was "not co-operating with their criminal investigations."
The article claimed that "When Duraj complained to eBay, the company wrote him a letter saying someone had temporarily taken over, or hijacked, the seller's page, and that he would have to contact police and the FBI."
CBC's RCMP contact was Cpl. Louis Robertson who is part of the Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Centre's criminal intelligence and analytical unit. Robertson was quoted in the article as implying that the online auction company was not willing to share the information about the fraud, saying "I don't think it will be in the best interest of eBay to say that X number of Canadian consumers have been the victim of a fraud."
CBC finished the article by stating that eBay had not returned several phone calls and an e-mail from them.
The following day CBC reported that Erin Sufrin, Manager of Public Relations at eBay Canada claimed that eBay was "not responsible for criminals who abuse its online auction service" quoting Sufrin as saying "That's an Internet problem, not an eBay problem."
According to Sufrin, Duraj would have been able to claim up to $25,000 if he had used his credit card or a protected payment service such as their own PayPal.
However in this case, Duraj had wired $20,000 from his bank account, thinking he was using PayPal, but was actually a fake website that was sent to him by the thief."Spoofing and phishing is something that we're all a victim of and that we try very hard to combat — trying again to get that education out. Never click on — if you think it's a fake eBay, or a fake PayPal or a fake anything site, report it." - Erin Sufrin
Sufrin, contradicted the story that RCMP's Cpl Robertson told CBC, saying that eBay is working with them to resolve situations where customers have been scammed out of large amounts of money.
An article on Digital Home tells a different story that Mr. Duraj was warned several times by eBay not to deal with the seller.
According to the article, Sufrin told them that a fake eBay listing appeared on the site, but was quickly identified and removed. They sent an email to all of the bidders, including the victim, telling them that the item was fraudulent. Mr. Duraj allegedly sent eBay staff an email about the item and was warned not to continue to deal directly with sellers, outside of the auction site, using personal email, wire transfers or instant cash transfer services, that the online auction company considers unsafe.
It appears, as Digital Home points out that Duraj did not heed the warnings and continued to deal with the seller. If this is true, eBay may have tried to do what they could to warn him against the potential fraud, but they also claim to have 2000 people in their security team available work with police. Is it then negligence that RCMP officer Robertson didn't work hard enough to investigate the matter when contacting eBay? Is CBC wrong by noting that a regulatory body in France is taking eBay to court to force the company to abide by the same standards required of all auction houses in that country?
To their credit, eBay has a Fraud auctions warning page and they say that they are performing their due diligence. It is not within their control to prevent bidders from using their own methods to purchase items, but a quick search in Google finds many references to fraud where the online auction system is concerned. Perhaps it's time for a eBay to work harder at their security and develop a more sophisticated phish proof online auction system. In the mean time, buyer beware and watch those urls, especially when it comes to expensive items.
More about CBC, Ebay, Hijack
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