Tuesday, 1 August 2006

eBay robots - the latest weapons in scammer wars

eBay scam latest: I learned something new today - eBay power sellers use bots (web robots) to post hundreds of sales offering "Buy it Now" stuff such as e-books, digital photos and Windows wallpaper for a penny (or a cent). It's all delivered digitally, but automating the process is the only way the sellers can make any money.

When a buyer clicks to buy and pays up, the bot is programmed to automatically email the product and at the same time, a standard generic positive feedback notice which is recorded on the buyer's profile.

Impressed at the quality and speed of the service, the buyer responds with positive feedback for the vendor and everyone is happy. And so are the scammers.

Now the crooks have got wise to the system. They use similar bots to create a large number of fake buyers' accounts and to locate and purchase the digitally delivered cheapo stuff, thus building up convincing amounts of positive feedback.

The rest is obvious. They then set up bogus sales for valuable kit that doesn't exist, rake in the proceeds and vanish.

Time was when it was enough to simply check that a seller had a good level of positive feedback to feel comfortable about buying from him. Now it's becoming increasingly important to check out exactly what goods the feedback relates to. If you find lots of 1p purchases listed - steer clear.

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