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How to Identify Online Fraud

BrickarmorBrickarmor USAMember Posts: 1,258
edited January 2012 in Buying & Selling Topics
I'm new to both eBay and Brickset. Could someone clarify precisely what the risks of purchasing Legos on eBay are? Is it simply that the item may not be shipped or may not match the details in the listing? I scanned the lengthy Announcement regarding this but it seemed geared to folks already in the know. Any clarification of the risks as well as ways to discern the fraudulent from the authentic (they can't all be bogus, right?) would be appreciated.


  • choob99choob99 Member Posts: 147
    We are all mostly going by the rule of not buying anything that is not retired, if it is available to order from then don't buy it from ebay, only way to truly stay safe
  • The_Brick_BuilderThe_Brick_Builder Member Posts: 658
    edited January 2012
    The item will be shipped, just watch out for sellers who describe boxes as "mint" when they are clearly not. I purchased a NISB 4956 Creator House for $101.79. The seller described mint, but when I received it, it was all beat up and only wrapped in shipping paper! If you see a "mint" box, don't expect it too arrive that way. Fradulent sellers list the 10188 Death Stars of 100+ quantity, for anywhere between $120-$250. They are also located outside the US. Their feedback is fake and don't believe it. Drop-shippers list current sets like 7939 for example. They list it as Buy It Now for lower than retail price. If the item location is Southhaven, MS, that is a drop-shipper. If it seems too good to be true, it is! I am staying away from eBay as buyers try to scam me, and there are too many dishonest sellers.
  • gmpirategmpirate Member Posts: 1,654
    Many issues can be avoided by simply asking questions "before" purchasing. There are no standards as far as words or acronyms used. People have different definitions and interpretations. Just ask. Sellers do not always think of every way something could be interpreted.

    They only times I have only been disappointed as a buyer is when I made assumptions.
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,712
    edited January 2012
    I think I would need to defer to the numerous threads explaining the 'do's and 'don't of buying off of eBay in terms of warning signs...
    It is is not a standalone thread already, maybe it would be. I mean a checklist being built of what should be looked for:
    a dead giveaway is if they are showing a stock photo, they are selling about 10 auctions with the same item(some times the sell multiples in one auction, but I think those are the scammers in Asia mostly doing that), they literally say they are dropshipping from LEGO if you ask them, their shipping is listed as Fed Ex (LEGOs shipper) AND their details entry in the eBay auction is vague and generic
    I use 'AND' because some legit sellers sell with stock photos (why is it so hard to take a photo of an item you are selling, I do not know), but I know the frauds do not do it because they have no stock to take a pic of since they are dropshipping.
    The details are also a dead give away, they basically copy and paste off of LEGO's site for the item description, AND they all seem to show the shipping from Olive Branch MS.

    Now, all of this can change because I am guessing these dirtbag scammers also look at threads such as this to get tips on how to better conceal themselves, (such as recruiting gullible people to help sell, who think it is legit) but we have to stop people from getting suckered in by these tools.

    After saying all of this I would recommend going to another thread that deals with this specifically and closing this one, but that is just my opinion
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,712
    Many issues can be avoided by simply asking questions "before" purchasing. There are no standards as far as words or acronyms used. People have different definitions and interpretations. Just ask. Sellers do not always think of every way something could be interpreted.

    They only times I have only been disappointed as a buyer is when I made assumptions.
    Correct, the other thing is never assume.
    Always ask questions when in doubt.
    Again some of these drop shippers got suckered into this by the scammers so if you ask they will probably be more than happy to explain if it is dropshipping or not..
  • akunthitaakunthita USAMember Posts: 1,038
    One other thing I would like to add to the excellent responses above is that when you pay with PayPal use a credit card. NOT your PP balance. This will give you double protection in case PP drops the ball. They shouldn't though; recently eBay/PP has been really good protecting buyers and refunding their money from fraudulent sellers. However there may be cases where you do receive the item, but it is singnificantly different then what you expected. In situations like that PP wants you to return the item at your own expense to get a refund. This may costs more than it is worth doing. Your credit card would give you better protection in cases like this then PP. Also, as others have said; NEVER buy from a dropshipper! LEGO will refuse service to you in the future if they have been scammed by someone who dropshipped a package to your address. It is not worth it!
  • BrickarmorBrickarmor USAMember Posts: 1,258
    Thanks everybody. Now if i could just get the wife to raise my Lego allowance...
  • OdinduskOdindusk Member Posts: 763
    ^ dump her, man. You have to prioritize in life.
  • CoolsplashCoolsplash Member Posts: 935
    @Odindusk you crack me up hahaha :)
  • monkeyhangermonkeyhanger Member Posts: 3,157
    edited May 2012
    I received an email supposedly from paypal ([email protected]), wanting me to open an attachment to restore full use of my account following an "unauthorised credit card payment" attempt. The email is below:-

    Dear PayPal user,

    We recently received a report of unauthorized credit card payment attempt
    associated with this account. To protect you against any further unauthorised
    payment attempts, we've limited access to your PayPal account. Please take
    a minute to review the details below and what steps you need to take to
    remove the limits.

    Details of disputed transaction

    Case ID Number: PP-001-546-712-069

    What to do next

    Please download the form attached to this email and open it in a web browser.
    Once opened, you will be provided with steps to restore your account access.
    We appreciate your understanding as we work to ensure your account safety.

    Due dates

    Please get back to us as soon as possible.

    Other details

    There are no other details for this transaction at this time.

    Yours sincerely,


    Please do not reply to this email because we are not monitoring this inbox.
    To get in touch with us, log in to your account and click "Contact Us" at
    the bottom of any page.

    Copyright © 2012 PayPal, Inc. All rights reserved.

    PayPal (Europe) S.а r.l. et Cie, S.C.A.
    Sociйtй en Commandite par Actions
    Registered office: 22-24 Boulevard Royal, L-2449 Luxemburg
    RCS Luxemburg B 118 349

    PayPal Email ID PP1569

    I took the ebay way in to my paypal account and noticed nothing unusual about it, no alerts etc when I logged in, everything is normal. There are a number of spelling discrepancies with the email, such as a few russian backward "N"s and the use of 2 different spellings of the same word in the same document (unauthorised/unauthorized). This comes at a time when I have previously been a modest ebay user to selling around £1500 worth of merchanise within a few weeks - do people monitor certain sellers for high activity to target them, on the assumption that they'll have a large paypal balance?
  • starfire2starfire2 Phoenix AZMember Posts: 1,329
    I keep getting those, but the return address says [email protected] ( note the 2 ll's) If you get this email DO NOT CLICK ON LINK!!! This is a scam! Instead, forward it to [email protected]
  • monkeyhangermonkeyhanger Member Posts: 3,157
    Starfire: I didn't open the attachment and I have informed paypal (again, going in through my ebay account). Never seen one of these mails before, maybe triggered by my high recent activity, or just coincidence? The date sent is 01 Jan 1970 according to the email!
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,712
    edited May 2012
    NEVER open an attachment or URL link in an email from anyone.. If you know the site go directly to the site and check first hand. NEVER use a link, period!
    In fact, most sites tell you this and will give instructions to go to a URL (and usually do not have it linked) and how to check things (Paypal is very good for this)
    But I have seen scams like this, one was saying I had sent payment for a 3000 dollar Rolex... I ALMOST clicked on the link, but remembered that paypal, 9 times out of 10, will not send such emails OR if they do they will not put a URL link in the email, they will tell you to go to and do x then y to get to where they need you to go, but they will never say 'click here to dispute this'. Sure enough I went to paypal by using my browser, and not the link in their 'helpful' email, and I had no such transaction.

    There are exceptions to this (like site verification links) but you should have an idea about those... anything unsolicited that does not look right is probably because it is not.. You can also check the 'header' information usually, which you will probably see not coming from the appropriate domain either.

  • phatphil55phatphil55 Member Posts: 45
    Anyone who acts on an email from a company asking you to log in again needs their head testing.
  • TheCableGuyTheCableGuy Member Posts: 114
    I have one for ebay that people need to be aware of.

    The scammer uses contact details available at the bottom of an auction in the business contact details and sends this:


    I purchased an item from your ebay store but i can not proceed with the payment. It seams that listing has been removed. Can you check it out? Here is the auction link: ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem& item=170671556256

    Please let me know as soon as possibile.



    On NO account should you click on the embedded link on the email, as it takes you through to a fake ebay log-in and then they will have your ebay details.

    This has been reported to ebay but as long as you have to display contact info then this kind of thing will happen.

    The advice is use the "my ebay" section to check if you are awaiting payment for any item or just enter the item number manually into ebay if unsure but once again never click on the link.

    Hope that helps someone.
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,967
    You can tell this is a spoof (phishing) email just from the first line: "Dear PayPal user".

    Legitimate emails from PayPal will address you by name rather than as a generic user. If in doubt, never click on anything in the email, and instead browse directly to If your account really has been limited, then you'll be told so there and given an opportunity to resolve it there.

    Filling in the form attached to your phishing email will merely send your username, password (plus whatever else it asks for) to a fraudster, who will then use those details to gain unauthorised access to your PayPal account or use your card details for various nefarious purposes.

    Phishing is very prevalent nowadays, but it's something you grow used to and can easily recognise after the first few attempts. Many people regularly receive several PayPal phishes every day, plus a whole bunch of other phishes purportedly from banks and other services that they might not even use (those are obviously the easiest to spot!).

    PayPal is, unsuprisingly, one of the most popular phishing targets, as lots of people all around the world will have an account with them, and unless you've opted into using two-factor authentication, it's generally easier for a fraudster to gain unauthorised access to a PayPal account than an online banking account.
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,967
    Anyone who acts on an email from a company asking you to log in again needs their head testing.
    What do you suppose happens when a PayPal account has been genuinely limited?

    Answer: They notify you via email and ask you to visit the Resolution Centre to complete some additional security measures. There will be no hyperlinks or attachments, though.
  • YellowcastleYellowcastle Northern VirginiaAdministrator, Moderator Posts: 5,234
    Whenever you lose your password, many sites will indeed send you a hyperlink to reset your account.
  • paul_mertonpaul_merton UKMember Posts: 2,967
    Whenever you lose your password, many sites will indeed send you a hyperlink to reset your account.
    Yeah, but they won't do it unsolicited.
  • morbiczermorbiczer Member Posts: 50
    If you get a genuine email from Paypal or E-bay or whatever, it will usually address you by name.

    If you are simply called "Dear Paypal user", it is most likely a phishing attempt.
  • starfire2starfire2 Phoenix AZMember Posts: 1,329
    Plus if it is from Paypal, the return sender email won't say [email protected] (2 LL's)!
  • phatphil55phatphil55 Member Posts: 45
    Anyone who acts on an email from a company asking you to log in again needs their head testing.
    What do you suppose happens when a PayPal account has been genuinely limited?

    Answer: They notify you via email and ask you to visit the Resolution Centre to complete some additional security measures. There will be no hyperlinks or attachments, though.
    Thats what i ment, log in thru the email. None of the big websites will ever ask you to log in via a hyperlink. If you rest your mouse over the link in one of the corners of your window it will normally say were the link goes. e.g

    clicking this will land you in trouble.

  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,357
    Damn.... does this mean that I won't be getting those 800,000 Euro's in the El Gordo Lottery from Spain if I give them my account info??

    And what about that widow of the bank president from Nigeria who wants to (keep it a secret) send $20 million to my own checking account and share it with her later??

    Shoot... there goes my retirement condo in Florida.... and an annual holiday on the Cornish Riviera... :-(
  • starfire2starfire2 Phoenix AZMember Posts: 1,329
    ^ Why would you vacation on a hen? hehe
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,357
    ^ Don't tell a Brit that.... nor the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall.... ;-)
  • hippoeaterhippoeater Member Posts: 30
    edited June 2012
    Hey everyone! Just made my first ebay lego purchase and I just wanted some insight.

    I picked up a UCS Millennium Falcon NIB for 1500.00. The box has some wear and tear on it hence the low price and it's apparently never been opened. Seems like a pretty good deal. I don't want to collect and not open it, I want to buy and build it - so I'm not worried about the outside box.

    What concerns me tho, is the seller has 129 positive remarks but all for purchases - never for selling anything - and he isn't selling anything beside this.

    I contacted him to ask a few questions and he hasn't responded yet.

    Just curious - should I be skeptical - or am I just worried from hearing scam stories.

  • AFFOL_Shellz_BellzAFFOL_Shellz_Bellz Member Posts: 1,263
    ^ Hope you paid with a cc via paypal for your protection!
  • emilewskiemilewski CT, USAMember Posts: 481
    ^^ I bought a used Taj Mahal off ebay from a seller with 0 feedback. I was concerned, but they had a real picture and I made sure I had the credit card via paypal for protection. I got the set as advertised and was happy with the transaction. So you do have some protection against seller scams, and they are not all scams.
  • AFFOL_Shellz_BellzAFFOL_Shellz_Bellz Member Posts: 1,263
    Congrats! Yes, there are lots of honest folks on ebay! I'm happy you found one of them to deal with!
  • JP3804JP3804 Member Posts: 332
    We need to remember that the majority of sellers are honest. Everybody starts with zero feedback and if nobody gave these sellers a chance there would be no sellers on any of these sights.
    When you buy from a new seller make sure you pay with a CC and follow all the rules and you will be fine.I would avoid anybody buying current sets because we all know how that can turn out.
    My 2 cents John
  • PhoneboothPhonebooth USMember Posts: 1,430
    edited October 2012
    Anyone notice how saturated Gumtree has been with Lego scams lately?

    For example, currently a Tower Bridge for 80 quid here: Great deal, right?

    The scam works in that the poster steals an ebay ad for the same set. Using the Tower Bridge set as an example, here.

    He/she uses the SAME picture and production description (first give away), and the set is NEVER where it is advertised (i.e., posted in London, but actually up in Norwich, so postage is required - second give away).

    Seller will only deliver via courrier, and never permits collection (last give away).

    I'm finding almost a set a day on gumtree that are flat-out scams. Sad.

    Really wish I could meet some of these scum bags in a dark alley and tell them how I really feel.

  • jondesouzaCEjondesouzaCE UKMember Posts: 241
    I contacted the person with the Tower Bridge and asked to collect - no chance. Definite scam.
  • PhoneboothPhonebooth USMember Posts: 1,430
    Yeah, it's pretty easily spotted when they same seller puts a new set up every two days.

    Up now? GG for £200. We ALL know that's not legit.
  • monkeyhangermonkeyhanger Member Posts: 3,157
    We saw these a while back with £400 unopened UCS MF 10179 being advertised there for delivery only.
  • PhoneboothPhonebooth USMember Posts: 1,430
    Still on there: £480 in Essex. It rotates every few weeks... Essex, Kent, Manchester.
  • Short_RoundShort_Round Member Posts: 161
    ^They don't even make an effort to disguise the con - if you click 'view image' on their pictures it shows in the address bar that it's an ebay image, then you can just check ebay listings (they seem to pinch the pics from recently completed auctions).

    There's an Eiffel Tower for a bargain £200 now :)
  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,733
    Is there no way we can either (1) report these crooks and/or (2) repeatedly string them along and waste their time ? Most buyers will be less aware of this kind of thing than we are, so we almost have a duty to make mischief as I see it....
  • PhoneboothPhonebooth USMember Posts: 1,430
    I've actually done both, but it's gotten excruciatingly tiresome. I'd love to just "meet" one in a dark alley.
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    Since ebay bought gumtree it's gone really downhill.
  • atkinsaratkinsar Member Posts: 4,258
    ^ I didn't know that, interesting.

    Gumtree is a swirling cesspool of scammers and not just where Lego is concerned. I've tried to sell numerous items (camera equipment) on there and the amount of scammers who got in touch was staggering. A few of us strung along a guy selling a UCS Falcon a few months ago, but it really wasn't as much fun as I thought it would be.
  • SirKevbagsSirKevbags Fairy Land Member Posts: 4,027
    ^ Couldn't agree more. I've looked at power tools on there. Some things are just to cheap. Either total scams or stolen.
  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,733
    Maybe we should rename it "Scumtree" ?
  • TyoSoloTyoSolo Member Posts: 539
    @adammullins I love how that listing is located on Brick Lane!!!
  • richoricho Member Posts: 3,830
    edited November 2012
    is it me or do law enforcement not give this enough priority? I mean if somebody stole a basket of food from a high street supermarket you would expect prosecution in most cases. Here, scammers get away with blatant attempted theft/fraud/deception, and yet I can't ever remember reading about a conviction of fraud via the likes of ebay/gumtree, or at least certainly not with Lego.

    I think a well tooled police department could trace common URL/USP addresses used in scams and do some undercover surveillance?

    Maybe I am over thinking this, but it is very annoying how often we are seeing these scams.
  • gifinimgifinim UKMember Posts: 174
    It might be worth reporting the UK based sellers as tax dodgers to the HM Revenue & Customs. The HMRC are having a crackdown on online sellers at the moment and pointing them in the direction of these guys might help scare them off a little.
  • PhoneboothPhonebooth USMember Posts: 1,430
    I think any effort would easily capture these guys. I've got names, bank accounts, addresses - all of which have been provided to the authorities. But there's no effort whatsoever.
  • leego76leego76 Chandlers FordMember Posts: 360
    Would Rogue Traders (beeb1) be interested in something like this? It would at least bring it to a wider audience
  • AmberylAmberyl Member Posts: 193
    I suspect that by and large, law enforcement prefers to go busting rings rather than busting individuals, when it comes to complicated cases that require actual legwork and time, particularly when international borders are involved.
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