smart spending

Beware second-chance auction scams

Real offers should not:
  • Ask that you pay by instant cash wire transfer service or bank transfer.
  • Direct you to e-mail the seller.
  • Direct you to complete the sale off-site.
  • Come from the seller directly.
  • Come to your non-eBay e-mail account.
  • Have the subject line "Message From eBay Member."
  • Ask the bidder to pay more than an original bid.

Fraudulent offers appear as e-mails with the subject line "Message From eBay Member" and usually request payment for the item through instant cash wire services, such as MoneyGram International or Western Union, or by making a direct bank transfer. EBay advises members not to send money for merchandise if the seller insists on these risky payment methods. While they're convenient ways to pay, they're difficult to trace.

Unofficial second-chance transactions do not receive eBay's purchase protection coverage, so verify the offer's authenticity before sending any money.

What to do about fraudulent second-chance offers
EBay members can make it easy to spot these scams by configuring their eBay preferences to not receive second-chance offers. Second-chance offers received after that will obviously be scams.

Wall says victims of second-chance fraud should alert the auction site and the IC3. EBay members can forward fraudulent second-chance offers to spam@ebay.com. Other eBay auction complaints can go to eBay's online security center.

Money sent is likely a total loss
If you already arranged payment through an instant cash wire transfer service, call the company to see if the funds were sent.

It's "virtually impossible to recover your money once it's sent," says Steiner. "If your money has gone overseas, the chances of your getting it back or getting help is very small."

Depending on the amount you sent, local authorities may or may not do anything about your loss. Contact them anyway, Steiner suggests, and they will direct your complaint to the proper authorities.

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