Dr-Fix-It! Notebook Archive:
Bye Bye, eBay . . .
Until recently, I have been a member of the eBay community. I have bought and sold on the on-line auction platform for about ten years. In the beginning, it was an exciting premise; a global garage sale - a marketplace where one could find almost anything at a mutually acceptable price. It was that and more for many years. It used to be one of my favorite Internet sites.
But the threat of fraud, theft and corruption has steadily grown. I feel eBay's ability to protect MY security has eroded to the level that I can no longer justify the benefits of being an eBay member as compared to the risks.
From eBay: "Since its inception in 1995, eBay Inc. has expanded to include some of the strongest brands in the world, including eBay, PayPal, Skype, Shopping.com, and others. . . eBay's original vision was to create the world's first global economic democracy. We saw a "people's market" in which anyone in the world could sell or buy just about anything for a fair price. And today on the eBay marketplace, trust, honesty and efficiency are rewarded more than size or status."
"Trust, honesty and efficiency"? At his writing, there are some 36 discernible categories of scams freely operating on eBay. For an updated list of how well "Trust and Honesty" are faring today, visit "Scams In Progress" updated by eBay Member "pi_r_square".
When the Trojan.Bayrob scam first surfaced in the fall of 2007, it worried me because it was such a sophisticated fraud that I could not tell how it was done. I couldn't tell I was looking at a fake!.
You see, I still try to keep up what is going on 'under the hood' of these newfangled computer gadgets. But, I admit my technical understanding has been eclipsed by the exponential growth of the computer sciences over the years. And, with the debut of this Trojan, I realized just being aware of the risks was no longer enough to protect myself from them. Just one 'click' on an innocent-looking eBay link could bring a scammer into my computer to re-arrange my 'host files' and set up a key-logger spy program. Scary Stuff!
From the Symantec Security Response Blog: "A sophisticated Trojan menacing eBay users continues to circulate, according to researchers from Symantec, who say the malware is still morphing several times each week in an effort to avoid detection. The Trojan.Bayrob is in constant contact with a fleet of control servers so it can be updated in real time - all the better to trick victims into making pricey fraudulent purchases. It regularly downloads fake pages that masquerade as authentic eBay content and program updates".
Here is a video from Symantec showing actual screen shots:
But, accidentally downloading a Trojan isn't the only way to get "ripped-off" on eBay. The good old-fashioned "low-tech" cons are alive and well. For instance, bait-and-switch is very common due to the mechanics of the eBay transaction.
Buyer: "The package was sent from China. the customs slip was marked 'photo'. I open it and it is a plastic baggy folded neatly and THAT'S IT!!" No refunds for overseas transactions - even if the buyer is lead to believe the deal is being made in the USA.
Buyer: "I bought a Digital Nikon D3 camera for $4900 and after 20 days receive a box with blank sheets of paper and one-time-use Kodak film camera." In this instance, PayPal confirmed that a box was shipped from the seller and received by the buyer. The buyer must file a SNAD Dispute (Significantly Not As Described) and return the box to the seller to qualify for a refund of $200. The buyer is looking at a $4700 loss on the transaction.
eBay: "eBay's Trust and Safety team is responsible for keeping the marketplace a safe, well-lit place for people around the world to trade with one other."
A senior eBay source replies: "EBay is the world's largest market place of fakes and counterfeits. The proliferation of auctions for counterfeits overwhelms the few legitimate auctions and drives the prices down for the legitimate sellers. Many of the counterfeits are good enough to fool even experts when they can't actually handle and examine the item. - - And Certificates of Authenticity are as close as the nearest graphics program and printer."
eBay: "eBay Feedback fosters trust between people by acting as both an incentive to do the right thing and as a mark of distinction for those who conduct transactions with respect, honesty, and fairness."
Well, perhaps that was the original lofty intent of the Feedback system. However, in today's eBay, a new member can just purchase some feedback by bidding and winning several penny auctions. It only takes a week and a few dollars to put togther your very own "mark of distinction" - a high feedback score.
E-Book Downloads are favorite Penny Auctions:
And, in spring 2008, eBay is rolling out new feedback policies to prohibit sellers from commenting on the activities of buyers. Instead of fostering "respect, honesty, and fairness", sellers fear that unscrupulous buyers will be able to scam them with impunity. One- way feedback is not being received well by eBay's selling community:
"The new feedback policies show little or no consideration for the Sellers who pay the bills."
"This will be the demise of Bay. What decent seller in his right mind would stay?"
"The new rules spell disaster. Bay is killing off a good part of their business, which they have spent years (and millions of dollars) developing."
eBay: "eBay also works behind-the-scenes to prevent fraud and, in the event a problem occurs, eBay proactively works with law enforcement and government agencies throughout the world to enforce its policies. Rooted in the values of the marketplace, eBay's policies are aimed at offering a level playing field, encouraging open, honest, and accountable transactions, and creating economic opportunities for everyone."
From Seeking Alpha: "In an effort to fight fraudulent transactions and boost trust in on-line purchases, Paypal, the on-linee payment service of eBay (NSDQNDAY), bought Israel/California based Fraud Sciences for a whopping $169 million in cash.
Fraud Sciences is has developed ND risk management tools, creating propitiatory technology that identifies fraudulent transactions and suspicious bidders before they impact. For PayPal and eBay, the acquisition is expected to enhance their fraud management systems and accelerate the development of next-generation fraud detection tools."
NY Times: "EBay Inc. Chief Executive Meg Whitman is preparing to retire. In the past few months, Ms. Whitman, who has led the San Jose, Calif., Internet auctioneer since March 1998, has been delegating more daily responsibilities to her lieutenants and is completing her succession planning, say people familiar with the matter. A decision about her departure could come within weeks, though the situation remains fluid, say these people.
John Donahoe, 47 years old, whom Ms. Whitman recruited in 2005 to become the president of eBay's auction business unit, has emerged as the leading candidate to succeed her."
Yahoo Finance: "Since last summer, eBay Board members have been systematically cashing in their stock options realizing about $20 million personal gain PER MONTH". View eBay Insider Trading here. (Keep scrolling down . . . It's a long list!)
Motley Fool Caps: "It might take a while for the latest changes to hit their stock price, but the latest fee increase + sellers no longer being able to leave negative feedback will be their final demise. The fees have just gotten too high to compete and sellers are now flocking to other sites such as Amazon, and are praying that Google or Microsoft/Yahoo come up with a viable alternative to eBay."
"This company has continously shot themselves in the foot for the last several years, and it looks like they are now trying to completely commit suicide. eBay has a ton of problems they need to fix. Their only solution has been to increase fees and alienate sellers."
"The eBay Auction model has problems with theft and fraud that is growing daily. eBay seems powerless or disinterested to combat the rising tide of scammers and thieves on their site. PayPay is under severe assault from Google, Microsoft - all major bankers are trying to get a grip on internet commerce - lots of competition. All that would be just another day on Wall Street except I am left with the feeling that eBay just doesn't give a hoot about the customer. Bottom-line thinking will sink them to the bottom."
I'm sorry this happened. I really liked eBay. It was a good run while it lasted. But, like Meg Whitman, I'm closing my accounts and leaving.
Bye Bye eBay.