MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- Whether it's camping or fishing, Lynn Frontado and Debi Winegarner say they have a passion for the outdoors. "We've been camping in the 14 years we've known each other. We go up in Woods Canyon Lake, Show Low, Pine Top, all up there, and we love to camp."
So, it made sense when the two of them decided to replace their aging pop-up camper with a newer RV. After looking on Facebook Marketplace where consumers can buy and sell things, they came across a used, 29-foot RV for sale.
So, they contacted the seller for more details. "Sent me like 20 pictures. Inside, outside looked great," said Winegarner.
Winegarner adds they were told the RV was in Omaha, Nebraska." It was an older model, high miles, figured well that's probably why the price was so cheap."
The seller forwarded a invoice that appeared to be from eBay instructing them to pay $800 in eBay gift cards to start the buying process. "Probably should have sent up red flag when they told us to get gift cards for $200 each because the max you can put on an eBay gift card is $200. So, for 800 we needed four of them," said Frontado .
After buying and sending $800 in gift cards, the seller then asked for more money. "They said we need $600 more for insurance which is fully refundable," said Frontado.
Since Lynn and Debi thought they were going through eBay, they assumed their purchase was protected if anything went wrong. As a result, Frontado says they sent a total of $1,400, and were told they'd have the RV in a couple of days. "Expect it to arrive by Friday about 7 p.m.," they were told.
But the RV never made it. And that's when they realized they'd been duped. The women had been dealing with a scammer the entire time.
3 On Your Side contacted eBay about the situation which said:
This is a scam that actually takes place off of eBay, but uses the eBay brand name in an attempt to instill trust in the transaction.
Winegarner goes on to say, "I was, like, really mad, and I knew it was gone. There's no way you're going to get that back. Scam, scam!"
Frontado adds, "We don't want anyone else to be taken like this."
Whenever you're looking to buy something, always meet the seller in person. If you're ever asked to wire money or send gift cards and you've never met the person, you're getting yourself in a scam.
Below is a statement from eBay to 3 On Your Side
This is a scam that actually takes place off of eBay, but uses the eBay brand name in an attempt to instill trust in the transaction. I’m sharing some background information below on warning signs for consumers. I also recommend the Better Business Bureau’s recent report on this topic.
eBay also sent 3 On Your Side numerous information and resources about scams:
Scam artists will list items for sale on fake landing pages, Craigslist or other non-eBay trading sites, and promise eBay’s protection as a means of completing the scam, but these transactions don’t take place on the eBay platform. Criminals often exploit well-known, trusted brand names like eBay to attract consumers and then lure them onto fake websites and into fraudulent transactions. We always encourage all our shoppers to be cautious when they aren’t purchasing directly through the eBay website. We provide tips for safe shopping and warning signs to look out for scams on the eBay Security Center and Safe Car Buying pages.
Common warning signs for consumers:
*The equipment or vehicle is advertised well below what it is worth.
- Know the approximate value of the equipment or vehicle you are interested in buying by using trusted resources on the internet. If it appears too good to be true, it probably is.
- FACT: Criminals will make the equipment or vehicle very appealing and tempt you with a price you don't want to miss out on.
*Seller pushes for speedy completion of the transaction and requests payment through a service or method that can put the money in their hands quickly.
- Moneygram (see example )
- RELoadit card (see example )
- PayPal MyCash card (see example )
- eBay gift card (see example)
- iTunes card (see example)
- OneVanilla card (see example)
- Western Union (see example)
- Direct Bank Transfer where the bank account is provided (see example )
- GreenDot (see example )
FACT: Common payment methods used in legitimate purchases are cash in person, credit card, PayPal, Bill Me Later, money order, cashier's check, financial loans, or personal check.
Escrow accounts can also be used to securely transfer funds to the seller (providing that you set up the escrow account, not the seller). eBay recommends using our approved escrow service with Escrow.com.
Direct bank transfers and wire payments may also be requested by the Seller. Please proceed with caution with these payment methods and remember it is always a good idea to inspect the vehicle in person before sending any money. With all transactions, we want to encourage you to work with the Seller. In addition, you may want to consider providing payment at the time you pick up the equipment or vehicle.
*You cannot meet the seller or look at the equipment or vehicle prior to sending a payment. The seller may be very polite and apologetic, but cannot meet you due to a special circumstance, such as:
- Seller is being/has been deployed by the military
- Seller is going through a divorce (or getting married)
- Death in the family or a health issue of a relative
- They work on a boat or are out of town for an extended period of time
- Received through inheritance and not needed
- FACT: Legitimate sellers are motivated and will make every effort to meet with all potential buyers immediately. If the seller cannot meet, they will designate another person to show the vehicle on their behalf.
*You found the equipment or vehicle on another website and the seller tells you eBay will protect the transaction, such as:
- Extend eBay warranty, eBay guarantee, or a buyer's protection plan
- Offer a return policy in case you are not satisfied (like a 'cooling off' period)
- Process the payment directly or hold/secure the funds
- FACT: eBay provides Vehicle Purchase Protection only for transactions that start and are completed on the eBay Motors website (other terms and conditions apply). In addition, eBay does NOT hold payments or extend protection for non-eBay conducted transactions.
*The only way to buy equipment or a vehicle on eBay is by logging into your eBay account with a user ID/email address and password. One of the following needs to be true:
- You were the winning bidder on the auction
- You clicked 'Buy it now'
- You sent a best offer and the seller accepted it
In these cases, the item will always appear in the purchase history of your eBay account.
*Criminals want to lure you into feeling safe. They take extra effort to disguise their websites and emails to look like they are from eBay or associated with eBay, when they are not. See Example
- Emails have poor grammar, broken English or have other distinguishing errors (e.g., misspelled words, incorrect punctuation)
- Communications may be overly formal or sound very mechanical. The responses are not personalized and could include general terms like 'Dear Sir' and 'Good Day'
- Emails are not sent from the 'eBay.com’ domain. Criminals may have a recognizable word in their email name or as part of their domain name, such as 'eBay' or 'VPP' (e.g.,eBay@vppinsurance.com) but these are NOT sent from eBay.
- Email contains false information like invoice numbers, transaction case IDs, or VPP case ID #s
- If you are suspicious about an email that claims to be from eBay, sign in to My eBay and click the Messages tab. If you do NOT see the same message "From eBay", the email is likely fake.
To report a fake email, forward it to email@example.com@ebay.com. If you are still unsure if the vehicle being offered is legitimate, contact eBay Customer Service. Buyers can also file a complaint at the Internet Crime Complaint Center. Read here for more information on gift cards and gift card scams. We also recommend consumers contact eBay to report the GC number to freeze the funds if used.
ON BACKGROUND - we frequently work collaboratively with the FBI to put out warnings like the below on scams of this nature. Some examples can be found below: