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Your Take: Have You Ever Been Scammed?

Posted By Jim On 04/16/2010 @ 7:02 am In Your Take | 66 Comments

Of course you have, we all have. Sometimes they’re small scams, like someone adding a little onto your bar tab, and sometimes they’re big scams, like someone skimming your credit card and going on a spending spree.

When I was in college, I would occasionally buy and sell stuff on eBay. I remember the days of scouring Fatwallet Hot Deals [3] forums for deals I could sell on eBay. I was doing it so often that I wrote a program that would quickly scrape eBay auction results and give me average sales price, standard deviation, and other statistics so I knew whether something was worth the effort. My comfort with eBay as a seller made me comfortable as a buyer.

Back in those days, DVDs were very popular and people would buy tons of them. Today, we sign up for Netflix and are happy those DVDs don’t take up any space in our house! I went onto eBay to buy some DVDs and someone was selling them in bulk, for around $8-$9 a title. It was cheap enough that a college student considered it and not so cheap that it tipped off my fraud radar. I spent about $150 in DVDs and sent the guy a Western Union money order, which soon after I learned was the worst thing to do, and he lived in Canada. He had good feedback, almost perfect, so I wasn’t worried. Unfortunately back then, Paypal hadn’t caught on yet so I really had zero protection.

The $150 were across two auctions and I only ever received the contents of one auction and they were counterfeit DVDs. I was furious. I tried to find a way to recover the money, which I couldn’t, and I tried to contact the authorities, who didn’t care. They told me to contact authorities in Canada since he was a Canadian seller. I bought the money order with my credit card and the credit card company told me they couldn’t do anything, I received what I paid for – a money order.

That experience taught me many lessons that I use even today. I learned that you are the only person that puts the highest priorities on your interests, you can’t expect others to care as much as you do. Beware third party rating systems because they can always be gamed. Always pay with something that you know has some form of purchasing protection. Don’t trust Canadians. (just kidding on the last one)

How were you scammed and what did you learn from it?

(Photo: jepoirrier [4])

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[3] Fatwallet Hot Deals: http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/hot-deals

[4] jepoirrier: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jepoirrier/2046188221/sizes/m/

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