Family Fraud Alert: Before You Bid

By: Jeff Anderson Email
By: Jeff Anderson Email

February 16, 2007

Online auction sites are a big part of internet business these days. They've also become a haven for scammers that want to rip you off. A North Augusta man says he's out nearly $3000 after he took part in an auction gone bad.

Online auction sites can be great places to buy hard-to-find items or get good deals. But if you aren't careful, you could end up paying for something you'll never get your hands on.

Last December, Gil Vargas of North Augusta found a great deal on eBay: less than $3000 for a motorcycle.

"You had to be pre-approved to buy the item, so I emailed him," Gil told 12 On Your Side.

Everything sounded legitimate, and the seller even had a great story for why the bike was so cheap.

"It was his brother's. His brother was sent to Iraq and he died in Iraq. It just brings back too many memories. He just wants out of the motorcycle," Gil said, relating the story he was told.

So Gil sent the money by way of Moneygram. The bike was supposed to be delivered in a couple of days. But it never came.

Gil contacted eBay.

"They told me this item was never purchased on eBay. They had no listing."

Turns out he had been duped and his money was gone.

Here's how he thinks it happened. He says the seller, who called himself Victor, sent him emails that looked like they were from eBay...but they weren't.

Gil had no idea.

eBay says he should have been skeptical when Moneygram was the required method of payment, because it doesn't have the protection of PayPal.

Now Gil is spending his time trying to track down who took his cash.

12 On Your Side sat down with Gil on the computer, and within minutes he found a bike for sale very similar to the one he tried to buy, at a similar price.

"We'll click on the Buy It Now option, and it will tell us we have to be pre-approved," Gil said.

He reports each one he finds to eBay.

"They've actually shut him down two or three times."

It's his way of getting the little bit of revenge he can.

"If I can't get my money back, and all I do is make someone else aware of the fact, I think I've done good," Gil said.

Police say tracking down the criminals in cases like this is difficult, because many times the crimes cross state or even international lines. This is only compounded by the anonymity granted by the internet.


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