March 11, 2008 5:25 AM PDT

Fraud abroad remains 'uphill battle' for eBay

eBay is decrying the lack of interest in cybercrime by authorities in countries such as Romania, Russia, and China.

The online auction site pinpoints these three countries as the source of the majority of phishing e-mails that target eBay users for personal and account details.

Mark Lee, trust and safety manager for eBay UK, blamed the fact there was "no fear of real punishment" in the countries and highlighted the particular scale of the problem in Romania.

"These attacks are definitely organized," Lee said. "There are towns in Romania where the entire focus is on sites like eBay as the main source of income."

In June, eBay revealed details of a campaign to curb online fraud by criminals in Romania that led to several hundred arrests.

Most of Romania's law-enforcement efforts are concentrated on its capital, Bucharest. But most of the cases that eBay identified during the crackdown originated from smaller towns, where the eBay team sometimes found backlogs of 200 eBay-related fraud cases, Lee said.

Speaking at the e-Crime Congress 2008 last week in London, Lee said phishing remains the main threat facing eBay users.

But, Lee added, eBay has kept the number of attacks static through educating users about revealing personal details and built-in security measures in new Internet browsers.

Lee said that eBay is often successful in tracking down the smaller online criminals but he warned that fighting larger crime networks remains an "uphill battle."

Nick Heath of reported from London.

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Romania, eBay Inc., fraud, phishing, Russia


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Hey Ebay, how about Counterfeit items? Isnt that important also?
Admittedly cybercrime IS of utmost importance, however I have purchased items from Hong Kong as of late which are clearly fraudulent items. And you know as well as I do if you do business with Ebay they REALLY dont seem to make an effort to fix the REAL problems, but will go after you for the other trivial issues. Because its easier and cheaper to do so.

Ebay COULD shut off transactions from China and those countries but, that would mean revenue out of Ebays pocket. Why cut the problem off at its head?
Posted by zincmann (153 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I hope you weren't suprised that you got a counterfit item from Hong Kong. If you pay too little and get it from too far away, you get what you deserve.

Caveat emptor
Posted by tgrenier (256 comments )
Link Flag trolls and issues VeROs unfairly!
I was selling a brand new software package that I failed to return to vendor for refund. So I listed it on ebay rather than eat the entire loss. 2 days before the auction ends, it gets pulled and I received a VeRO notice that I was violating someone's copyright (some tattoo guy in LA). This was a unopened, new, authentic program, still shrinkwrapped and genuine. I had to prove this over some quick key stroke.
So too bad. ebay just pissed off a bunch of its sellers by allowing feedback from buyers but no feedback toward bad buyers.
And the ability for some association like SIIA to just run through everyone's auctions and pull first, let them lose later attitude is more than invasive.

I hope eBay gets sued for monopolistic practices. (controlling auctions, pay system, forcing customers to paypal, access to accounts, promoting fraud, hiding behind a venue, ...)
Posted by Below Meigh (249 comments )
Link Flag
log in the eye?
what's all this talk about russia et al? charity they say, begins at home. I was defrauded on ebay to the tune of 750USD by no other than an american in tuscon arizona. ebay as usual turned the other way and the police in tuscon said they could'nt go after the guy because the money was to small! all this because i am from one small carribean island and dont reside in the US. figure that! please fix home first before you have the audacity to complain about other countries!
Posted by ejeehi (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
SHILL BIDDING: The big problem!
Now that eBay allows ID blocking for all bidders in an auction,
identifying sellers who use SHILL bidders to drive a bid price
higher has become impossible. I have turned in dozens of cases
over the years but eBay was always reluctant to take action as
high final bids generate $$$ for eBay. Now there's no way to
know if you're bidding against a legit buyer or not.

Shill bidding is also used to circumvent reserve price fees. i.e. -
Start price low...have shill bidder place high bid amount...all
others must beat this price to win auction or seller relists item
and does not complete transaction with shill bidder. Very
common occurrence in my experience.

I guess eBay rationalizes there is more to be gained by high
final auction amounts vs. lost reserve price fees. Couple this
with eBay's apparent tolerance for inaccurate or misleading item
description (read: fraudulent) and the only conclusion I can
come to is that Ebay is my opinion.
Posted by A.J. Jackson (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
crooked or not, they are americans! :))
good point! the bottom line is that, the more money involved, the more profit they pull out of your and my pocket... it's always easier to blame individuals, countries (see that they never give names and locations, only mentioning they have hundreds of arrests:))) ) than taking actions towards improving their security and policy. And not only easier, but a lot cheaper! :)))
Posted by durox_cj (18 comments )
Link Flag
If the cases cited are as clear as discussed here,
(I have come across many similar posts on other forums, also) would US users have a remedy?
The cumulative (circumstantial) evidence suggests
that this has become a huge malpractice.

Christies and Sotheby's were nailed for price
fixing. I think US users of Ebay can come together in a forum and press for remedial action against Ebay. The Vista class action suit has shown what Microsoft's own management thought about Vista. We need hardly doubt that a similar action against
Ebay will throw up tons of revealing email evidence.
Posted by bhushan bhaagii (127 comments )
Link Flag
Ebay is part of the problem.
Let me say that Ebay has saved me money. I use Ebay. My beef is this. Ebay has allowed many big money sellers (Power Sellers) to continue to post ads that make false promises. When a buyer gave bad feedback, the seller could post lies and the seller would only agree to remove the lies if the defrauded buyer removes the truth.

Recently Ebay made changes that fixed much of this, but they seldom remove Power Sellers even if they conitinue to make false claims.

Ebay needs to enforce the same laws that other business are required to enforce.

It is wrong of Ebay to claim that bad feedback alone is fair punishment for breaking the law and making false claims. There is much more Ebay could do about such matters.

Much of the fraud can be traced and accounts could be banned. Most of the folks using Ebay are honest and fair. Ebay has enough profits to hire some more security people to help stop fraud.

It is time for Ebay to do thier part or face charges f aiding and abetting. Being a "Power User" is not a permit to commit fraud.

Mark Heinemann
Posted by as901 (105 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Shill bidding
You are right. High prices make more money for Ebay. For that reason, they often turn a blind eye if they make a large enough profit.

The answer is simply. Charge Ebay for aiding and abetting if they refuse to act when they learn the truth!
Posted by as901 (105 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Absolutely No Sympathy
My wife tried to sell an item on eBay recently. Apparently, some company outside the United States made the claim that this item violated their IPR and, as a result, they cancelled her listing. I was utterly shocked.

She asked them what IPR and they said it was a violation of the company's trademark.

She tried to argue with them over the matter, because there was no such trademark violation. Further, the company they named did not even have a trademark registered in the US, as far as we could find.

They then changed their story and said that it was a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Can eBay get its story straight?

She then asked them how it could be a violation of the DMCA. While there might have been some truth in it, we certainly would want to know. eBay simply said, ?Go talk to the [foreign] company.? What?!?! She is doing business with eBay, not the foreign company. We just wanted evidence that we were, indeed, violating somebody?s copyright.

Somewhere about this time, eBay disabled the ability for her to reply to customer service on the topic. I am not lying. eBay actually removed the ?Reply? button on the e-mail message. So, she had to go to an older message and use that message (which still had ?reply? enabled), copy and paste the reply over from the more recent message, and reply again.

My wife persisted to ask questions. I swear on my life, they changed their story again and said it was a trademark violation! eBay really has no clue. eBay went on to say that the foreign company signed a statement under penalties of perjury that they owned a trademark on some word (who knows what) in her ad. Wow, as if that has any weight. Try going down to the courthouse and filing a suit against said foreign company for perjury and see how far you get. Anyway, she replied saying that under penalties of perjury that she has not used any trademarked words and then asked eBay to take up charge to bring justice against those who lied.

Apparently, she got attention of somebody in their legal department, because the next message sounded more like one composed from an attorney than the average person, but who knows. She was told that she needed to take it up with the foreign company and there was nothing eBay could do, essentially.

She replied to tell them that there was, indeed, something eBay could do. She invited them to open the listing she had and review it themselves. Try to find the claimed trademarked word and tell her what it is. Also, she asked eBay to re-list the item she was trying to sell. eBay absolutely *can* do something else. The questions whether they would or not.

eBay's last messages was a repeat of what was said before. They simply act like drones. Further, they removed her ability to reply to the message, again. So, she gave up. She never could find what trademark she was supposedly violating. eBay simply did not care.

So, if eBay is getting cheated by various foreigners, they deserve it. My wife was apparently cheated by a foreigner and eBay did not care.
Posted by paulej (1261 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Internet international justice systems.
eBay and a lot of other internet companies with large sums of money on the line find them selves without the support of a functional legal system like they are used to in the US and in the developed world. A system they can use and understand and seek legal recourse through when dealing internationally. Its hard enough with bricks and mortar based transactions overseas, but a small international business (or individuals) on the internet can be very difficult find - much less to bring to justice locally by a US business - especially if the local legal system is in disarray or non-existent.

Unfortunately, this situation may be creating its own solution - in the absence of the law. Most large corporations are bright enough to realize if they can't legally find justice internationally - and that when justice is not available from the US side, revenge and problem elimination is available from the same kinds of outlaws where these internet crimes are committed. I suspect if you looked in Romania, Russia, Nigeria, etc. some enterprising company or individuals provides a suitable service to stop this kind of un-addressed crime - they may even advertise - might even take PayPal. I keep watching international news agency wire services expecting to read about organized internet crime figures - hackers, kiddy porn kings, con artist, spammers etc. being found dead, dismembered - or not being found at all. Of course these kinds of news events aren't of particular interest to the local news services where they could occur and where survival in general is a higher priority. They may never even be reported. You probably couldn't separate the victims from local turf battles, ethnic cleansing or drug crimes. I still think its just a matter of time - if it isn't already happening. I note that the number of computer virus's being created has declined dramatically in the last couple of years - and I don't think its just better anti-viral software. As they say - crime exists as long as it pays. There's no reason to believe that solutions to crime can't pay and doesn't create its own marketing niche - in the absence of functional legal prosecution. It becomes a cost of doing business, until a functioning legal system can take over.
Posted by masonx (244 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Internet fraud is too easy
This problem cannot currently be solved by law enforcement because it is too widespread and easy to commit. It is analagous to having easily duplicated currency and then expecting law enforcement to successfully fight counterfitters (it would be practically impossible). The first step should be making it more difficult to commit internet fraud. This is a technology issue. The anti-fraud techniques needs to be raised to the point where only significant criminal enterprises would have the resources to commit internet fraud. Then law enforcement would only have to deal with dozens of organizations capable of committing the fraud instead of thousands.
Posted by gsigas (105 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ebay is partly to blame.
Let me start by saying I use Ebay. I save with Ebay. What bothers me is that Ebay has often turned a blind eye to fraud they have been made aware of simply because they can profit off that person. In many cases, if the person who commits fraud is a big seller ,or what Ebay calls a "power seller" ,they may get a slap on the hand and be allowed to continue.

As I said ,I save with Ebay ,but I also have seen bad sellers allowed to break the law on ebay. It is not an uphill battle. The truth is that Ebay has made huge profits ,but much of those profits have come from using blind eye when there is profit to be made.

Mark Heinemann
Posted by as901 (105 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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