Nigerian eBay Scams: How They Get Your Item for Free and Get You to Send Them Money!
Nigerian Scams on eBay
There are Nigerian scams on eBay where the scammers get your item for free and then get you to send them money! How does that work? And how can you avoid getting scammed?
I was Targeted for the Nigerian eBay Scam...
Yesterday I listed my BlackBerry Cell Phone for sale on eBay after getting low offers from some on-line cell phone buy back services, local shops, and ecoATM. I started the auction at $51 and added a Buy It Now price of $100. I was excited when the item sold for the Buy It Now price within a couple hours. I got a request from the buyer to send an invoice right away so he could pay with PayPal. I was ready to hit send on the invoice when I noticed something: the shipping address was in Nigeria.
My first concern was with the shipping cost. I listed the item with shipping in the U.S. included for $5.60. I figured shipping to Africa would be way more expensive, so I didn’t want to do that.
My second concern was that Nigeria is famous for scams. I did some research and found that I had just been targeted for the Nigerian eBay scam.
Nigerian eBay Scams- How it Starts
Here’s how the Nigerian eBay scam works:
A buyer from Nigeria buys your item for sale on eBay. This is usually a buyer with a new eBay account and no feedback scores from eBay. The buyer may send you a message asking for an invoice. This is what happened in my case. I did not send an invoice, but here is what happens next if you do…
Soon, the buyer claims to have paid PayPal in Nigeria for the item. You’ll also get an e-mail from email@example.com or similar e-mail address that claims to have received payment for the sold item. This will look like an e-mail from PayPal, but it is not actually from paypal.com. The e-mail that looks like it is from PayPal claims that they need a tracking number for the item before they can release payment to you. In other words, you are being asked to ship your item before receiving payment. Don’t do it!
Let’s say you fall for this and ship your item. You’ll never receive payment, and the scammer will get your item for free with you paying for the shipping. Adding insult to injury, they will try to get money from you next. Here’s how that part works.
How they get your money in the Nigerian eBay Scams
You’ll receive another email from firstname.lastname@example.org or similar e-mail address that says that there was a mix-up on the currency conversion from Nigerian currency to U.S. dollars. The buyer overpaid. For example, if the item was $100, they will claim that the buyer paid $300. They will ask you to pay $200 before they issue your payment of $300, or something along these lines. It will appear as though PayPal needs to balance the books- they assure you that you'll get your payment for the item after you send money to account for the over-payment from the buyer. Since it is a request from PayPal (or at least you are led to believe it is), you may actually think it is legitimate request.
They may ask you to wire the money using Western Union. You will be receiving e-mail from both the buyer and from email@example.com stating that the buyer overpaid and you need to wire some money to straighten this out so you can get paid for the item you already shipped. Some sellers end up falling for this part of the scam out of desperation to get paid.
If you are played in this scam to its conclusion, you are out the value of your eBay item, plus shipping, plus any money you wired to try to straighten things out with PayPal so you can receive your payment.
Protect yourself from scams
How to Avoid the Nigerian eBay Scam
Never ship an eBay item until payment is received. This is a good practice for any shipping address. If you ship your item before you receive payment, what will you do if the payment doesn't come through for some reason? I accept payment by PayPal. You can check your PayPal account to make sure payment has been submitted before you ship sold items.
If a buyer from a country you don’t ship to wins an item, you can cancel the transaction. The process to follow in eBay is known as opening a case. You may lose the eBay fee on the auction, but this is better than losing your item. When you cancel a transaction after an item has sold, the buyer will be asked by eBay to agree to cancel the transaction. If the buyer either agrees or does not respond after 7 days, you will get your eBay auction fee returned.
You can restrict potential buyers from selected countries from bidding on your items. This is in the Exclude Shipping Locations menu in eBay. I had to search a bit to find this. Click the Customer Service menu in eBay and search for the help topic “The buyer or winning bidder is in a country that I don't ship to”. This should lead you to the Exclude Shipping Locations menu where you can select the countries you don’t ship to. This will block buyers with primary address in these countries from bidding.
After my experience, I decided to exclude all countries except the United States for now. I thought that since the shipping terms in my auction were U.S. only, that only U.S. buyers would bid, but this wasn't the case. The listing for my cell phone listed U.S. shipment only, but my restrictions did not block buyers outside the U.S. from bidding. I changed my settings in eBay so now only bidders with primary addresses in the U.S. can bid on my items. This should avoid Nigerian eBay scam attempts on my eBay auctions.
© 2013 Dr Penny Pincher