Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Greg Stumbo Warns Consumers About E-bay Auction Scams

Press Release Date:  Friday, February 09, 2007  
Contact Information:  Vicki Glass, 502-696-5643 Office  

As part of National Consumer Protection Week (February 4-10), Attorney General Greg Stumbo issued a consumer alert today, cautioning Kentuckians to be wary of new trends in Internet auction scams.

Online shoppers have become recent targets of “second chance” offers in which they are given an opportunity to purchase an item they may have previously viewed or bid upon. The victims are contacted by a con artist and lured to illegitimate auction sites to purchase the item, which usually does not exist.

“While the Internet has become a valuable tool commonly used for online communication, banking and shopping, it has unfortunately also become a haven for swindlers ready to take advantage of consumers,” said Attorney General Stumbo.  “These crooks are getting savvier in their approach and can make an illegitimate offer look very realistic.  In recent months my office has received several consumer complaints from Kentucky residents who have fallen victim to online auction scams.”

The scams have recently surfaced on eBay, a well-known Internet auction company. Investigators believe that scammers are contacting losing bidders of an auction. The scammer redirects the victim to a site unregulated by eBay and then entices them to pay through anonymous payment methods. Scammers may also obtain the email address of their target by researching profiles and bids, matching victims with emails and initiating contact off-eBay.

Another way people are falling prey to online fraud is through phishing. Phishing takes place when a scammer sends emails to “spam lists." The targeted victims are told to log-on to eBay by a provided link which then redirects victims to a fake website. The scammer then has access to vital information enabling him or her to take over the eBay account. Phishing can be compounded by unscrupulous eBay sellers that offer to sell lists of prior buyers with their email addresses.

To avoid becoming victimized by second chance scams, Attorney General Stumbo and eBay are encouraging consumers to educate themselves about online hoaxes and watch for them when using the Internet.  In fact, eBay has established a Security and Resource Center that consumers may use to educate themselves about potential scams. Additionally, consumers can install an eBay toolbar on their web browsers. The toolbar will alert customers if the eBay website is legitimate or is a phishing attempt. Many updated browsers also have built-in protection against phishing.