What to do if being scammed online?
June 1, 2006 12:39 PM   Subscribe

I have been scammed! What to do if you bought an item online and the seller did not ship it and took the money? The money was money order which probably make things worse for me. After some research it turns out that this particular seller has done the same to several people and the site she uses to advertise on has no rating system. I filed a complaint here http://www.ic3.gov/ but other than that and learning a lesson, anything else can be done to stop that scammer from not doing that again to others?
posted by convex to Law & Government (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Did you use a US Postal Service Money Order? If so, follow up with the post office. They take fraud involving USPS money orders seriously. Postal inspectors are not to be trifled with, seriously.
posted by de void at 12:47 PM on June 1, 2006

Doh, let me add one more seriously to complete the trifecta...
posted by de void at 12:48 PM on June 1, 2006

Response by poster: The money order I obtained was from a department store. I guess that means no help then!
posted by convex at 12:52 PM on June 1, 2006

You could put her name and the word "scam" and "scammer" and related words on the same web page (maybe this one?) so future googlers will stop and think twice.
posted by pracowity at 1:12 PM on June 1, 2006

Sounds like hard knocks, to me. You didn't do any research until after you gave her money, even though the info was out there, so it sounds like the best outcome would be for you to be less trusting of online purchases, especially ones involving money orders, in future transactions.

One thing you should so is to give the specifics you left out of your post above so that he record of scamming has a higher online profile. Also, send your story to the Consumerist.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 1:20 PM on June 1, 2006

I agree. Typically before buying an expensive item on eBay I'll not only look at feedback but will Google anything I can find about the seller. This won't shut them down since so many people are careless about their money, but it will definitely help the rest of us.
posted by rolypolyman at 1:21 PM on June 1, 2006

check and see if you can do anything with the money order - even some non-postal ones can be reversed, though I'd bet it'd be a pain to do. (and, in the future, get postal money orders.) information may be on your "save this copy" stub or whathaveyou.
posted by mrg at 1:31 PM on June 1, 2006

Response by poster: The information was not out there. After submitting my story to the forum of the website "blujay.com" a couple of people identified the seller and told me that she is also selling items on other websites and that some of that other website users posted threads complaining about her. like not returning money, lost contact with her or never shipped items.

So the information turned up after I posted questions and my story in the forum. I do take a blame in trusting her, but if nobody trusts any seller nobody can do business that way.

I have bought and sold things over ebay, and I did run across some bad products but I was able to resolve them in a good way. This is the first time I use blujay.com . Ebay has much better fraud prevention tools.
posted by convex at 1:41 PM on June 1, 2006

Response by poster: I added the tags, hope that will help anyone out there googling her. Someone on Blujay actually read my post and emailed me, he was going to send her money but was lucky and changed his mind, which is a good thing.

Some of the things I found out after dealing with that seller:

-She keeps my item for sale, even after receiving my money. And Even after I pointed out to her to take it off.

-My wife emailed her from a different email asking her about the same item, and she emailed her back telling her it is available for sale with the same information she gave me.

-She mentions a tracking number and says she mailed the item, but never gave it to me, even after me asking her several times in many emails, which half of them she ignored.

-She claims being a 33 single woman, overweight over 300LB, who lives with her grandmother. and promises sellers also that she will throw in a bonus item or thing when she ships the item for being sorry of the delay in shipping. She promised that other guy the same thing.
posted by convex at 1:50 PM on June 1, 2006

There are a bunch of lessons to be learned here — like, for instance, sending a stranger a money order you bought from a department store is dumb — but the answer is no, there's probably nothing you can do to prevent her doing it again.

And don't post her legal name around the Internet alleging that so-and-so is a scammer. Her name isn't unique, and others who share it haven't done anything to harm you.
posted by cribcage at 1:55 PM on June 1, 2006

Response by poster: okay so, let's see, I am dumb. I can live with that. And I can't do anything to stop the scammer. And she doesn't even get any blame. What a fruitful society we live in.
posted by convex at 2:00 PM on June 1, 2006

contact the local authorities where she lives. tell them you want to press charges.
posted by lester at 2:15 PM on June 1, 2006

Best answer: Well if you sent her a money order, you know where she lives (I assume) so you have an address.

My recommend? Write some letters

There's over 1400 Federal agencies. In CA there's close to 1200 state agencies. And throw in my city of LA and there's another 1300 municipal agencies.

Wherever she lives, start writing. ANy agency that might remotely be connected with your situation should get a letter. Most contain bureaucrats hanging on by a thread and looking to do justify their jobs.

Then contact your local news agencies. There's always some sort of consumer reporter looking for stuff on a slow day. "Fake Ebay: what YOU should know" will fill the bill most days for them.

My point is this: go to town. You may never get money back but you'll bury this chick in paperwork and pencil pushers all looking to demonize her to keep their jobs. I did it once to AIG. I ended up getting an apology from the Vice President of the company and the certain knowledge that I'd ruined the career track for a middle manager in charge of my case.

And really, that's kind of heartwarming in its own way.
posted by rileyray3000 at 2:21 PM on June 1, 2006 [1 favorite]

Yep. Call the police in her town and make a complaint. Complain to the Better Business bureau. Call the Attorney General in her state. Encourage others who were scammed to do the same.
posted by theora55 at 5:55 PM on June 1, 2006

There are a bunch of lessons to be learned here — like, for instance, sending a stranger a money order you bought from a department store is dumb — but the answer is no, there's probably nothing you can do to prevent her doing it again.

That's not true. He could drive down to whatever town the girl lives in and complan to the cops in person (along with printouts of the emails, etc).

He could also file a small claims lawsuit against the woman in His own home town, which she would lose and then try to garnish her wages, etc.
posted by delmoi at 7:46 PM on June 1, 2006

He could show up at her door with a very stern look on his face and announce that he has come to pick up his item, or else!
posted by Jonasio at 9:11 PM on June 1, 2006

Best answer: What a fruitful society we live in.

I don't know about "fruitful," but it's part of the price you pay for that society remaining free. The bad news is, it's hard to put people in jail. And the good news is... It's hard to put people in jail. Welcome to America. Tip your waitresses.

The other respondents are correct: There are lots and lots and lots of ways to bitch and shout, if you're so inclined. There are forms you can file, telephone numbers you can dial, and agencies to accept your complaints. But that wasn't your question. You asked if you could do anything that would stop her — which presumes the next step, that those complaints would carry effect (or, to use your term, "be fruitful"). They won't. And you can't.

Unless you'll find the exercise therapeutic, you will have wasted your time. You're not going to "bury this chick in paperwork." The newsflash is that people who do this usually break laws by the dozen and often have outstanding warrants for petty theft, check fraud, take your pick. They don't care about your complaint; and if you could get a cop interested in them, he wouldn't be interested in your complaint, either. The dirty not-so-secret about eBay fraud is that no one cares. (Not even eBay.)

Unless you were scammed by Chelsea Clinton, no reporter will care about your story. Unless you lost $90,000, no police officer will care about your story. You'll be shouting at the wind. If you want solace, here it is: These people eventually get caught. None of them do it once. They're all habitual offenders, and they all eventually spend time in (a) handcuffs, (b) police cruisiers, (c) jail cells, and (d) courtrooms. This woman won't be punished for what she did to you. But she will be punished for something else, and you'll have to take solace in that.
posted by cribcage at 9:47 PM on June 1, 2006 [1 favorite]

Sadly, people get away with it, as demonstrated by AskMe's dear fraudulent ebayer, airnxtz. (Long thread spanning from November 2005 until present)
posted by Iamtherealme at 2:05 AM on June 2, 2006

I don't understand. What's wrong with the small claims court?
posted by salmacis at 5:49 AM on June 2, 2006

salmacis: small claims court wouldn't be very effective in this case--the scammer doesn't really care about a civil judgement if they are engaging in a criminal activity, and any settlement granted by the court often requires the participants to voluntarily make payments. If the scammer doesn't want to pay, then after small claims court, one has to go to the trouble of locating property that can be confiscated. This is a long and usually fruitless search, especially if the person sued has no assets to begin with.
posted by lester at 7:41 AM on June 2, 2006

Best answer: Just because you got the money order from a department store doesnt mean you can't do a fraud trace. A similar situation happened to me 2 years ago with a M/O I got at Wal-Mart. *IF* you saved the stub from the money order, you'll have tracking information needed to make things happen. Go back to the store Customer Service desk and explain that you want to cancel the order. You might have to pay 10$, but if it hasn't been cashed yet, you will get your money back in a few days. If it already was cashed, you'll get a copy of the money order, the date and location of the cashing, and the signature of the cashee.
posted by enfa at 8:36 AM on June 2, 2006

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