WildBill's Blogdom

Mongo only pawn, in game of life.

Auction Fraud and My Letter to the Editor.

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Fast Company magazine just had an article on a self-admitted eBay scammer. This bastard took hundreds of thousands of dollars from everyday people who were just looking to trade stuff on the ‘Net. Considering I got ripped for $800 in April, I know how this feels.

I wrote a “soundoff” to the article. For archival sakes, I’m posting it here. If anyone who knows how to contact the postal inspectors that were mentioned in the FC article, please, drop me a line, either by the comments link or via email. Thanks!

Letter follows:
Sound Off Catch Me If You Can

Name: Bill Childers
Email: [email protected]
Location: Silicon Valley
Occupation: IT Engineer

I`d love to have an email exchange with this postal inspector fella - I was taken for an $800 laptop in April. Western Union (the method of payment I paid via), the FBI, and the Las Vegas PD (where the WU payment was sent) have all been black holes as far as this is concerned. Someone`s got my cash, and it`s really torking me off.

In my quest to recoup my $800, I`ve discovered that there is very little recourse for someone who`s been ripped off via the Internet. I`m far from an Internet newbie - I was trading stuff via USENET back in `91. Believe it or not, out of hundreds of successful trades, this one is the only time I`ve been bitten.

I thought I did my homework on this transaction, too. He had decent eBay feedback (72 positive, no negative), I google`d (both web and USENET) extensively for the person`s name and eBay handle, and both returned clean. He sent pictures of the unit, and the specs exactly matched the model number (Fujitsu`s model numbers are pretty descriptive).

What actually happened is a case of identity theft. The person`s name and address that I was given to send the Western Union money order to had actually been a victim of identity theft, and the scammer was using his ID to setup fake auctions and collect money via Western Union. I used a reverse address lookup webpage and got the phone number of the person I *thought* I`d sent the money to, and called them. Turns out this fella was completely innocent, and had his ID stolen. He even had a preexisting Las Vegas police case open, because someone else was ripped off by the person who stole his identity.

I`ve practically exhausted all avenues open to me: The Las Vegas PD has closed the case due to lack of information (In reality, they HAD enough info - Western Union was willing to tell them where the payment was picked up, and when - and they were willing to give them the video tapes of the transaction. Somewhere, this creep`s face is on a tape.). The FBI has been, literally, a black hole. I submitted a report on their “Internet Fraud” page immediately after I realized that I was scammed, and have heard exactly ZERO from them. I actually spoke with a Vice President at Western Union, but he refused to give me any refund, saying it`s not his company`s policy. My argument is that if the personnel manning the Western Union office had checked the ID of the person picking up the payment like they were SUPPOSED to, perhaps the money would have never been picked up, and maybe I`d still have my $800.

People say that there is a shortage of jobs - there should be a decent anti-fraud squad out there, and they should be Federal in nature. If the postal inspectors fit that description, great! How does one get ahold of them and file a fraud complaint? I`ve got quite a bit of information on my case (old email conversations, the Western Union paperwork, etc) - I would think that there would be SOMETHING that could be done.

I`ve written off the $800 as a very bad mistake I made - it`d be great to get it back, but right now I just want some justice.