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ebay Trading Assistants – BEWARE of new TA Scam

February 9th, 2011 by Skip McGrath

Several of my readers have received the following email from someone in California who claims to be in the music business.  He is seeking eBay TA’s to sell his products on eBay for him for a 15% commission.  Look at the email he send through the TA contact form and then let’s figure out what is wrong with this.

Hello,

I can buy brand new musical instruments at wholesalers price. Sometimes it is up to 40% discount of the normal price for the high demand products. I was looking for the possibility to profit from my position. I’ve tried to run eBay auction by myself but this was totally unsuccessful because I had a tons of unanswered questions due to the lack of time. The winning bidder asked me to use eBay escrow service because of my low feedback score and I gave it up finally because this process is totally new and unnecessary for me.

I need a professional eBay trading assistant who can help me with the sales. I will provide brand new products with official warranty. I can exchange defective products with “no questions asked” money back guarantee. I need a seller who will do the auction posting and held all the communications with the potential buyers for 15% commission. I can’t promise you big money but I can insure you that all the transactions will be hassle free and fast. Since we have our own shipping facility I can deliver the products to the buyer directly from our facility. This will cut the delivery time and let us save on shipping charges.

I’ll try to outline the selling terms in this email:

step 1 – I email you the list of available goods on sale with the minimum selling prices.

step 2 – You run the auctions and do all the communications with the bidders. You contact with the winning bidder and forward shipping instructions to me.

step 3  – I deliver the package to the buyer. The item will be shipped via UPS Ground Service or FedEx in 3 business days. Once it is shipped I will forward you the tracking number.

step 4 – Buyer confirms delivery and leaves positive feedback. You deduct eBay fees and your 15% commission and send the rest of the funds to my bank account. I would need payment via bank wire only and will cover all the fees.

This is how I see it. If you have offers or suggestions let me know.

So let’s analyze what is wrong with this offer:

  1. If his music store is in California, why is he contacting Trading Assistants in the Mid-West and on the East Coast?
  2. The phone number he supplied (in a separate email) was a fax machine
  3. His business name could not be found online
  4. He wants to be paid via bank wire transfer (This is a huge red flag)
  5. His grammar and style indicate he speaks English as a second language (probably Asian). Could he really be emailing from somewhere in Asia?
  6. He says the product will be shipped and feedback left before you pay him.  OK – what if the buyer of the musical instruments is in cahoots with the seller. The buyer could file a claim with eBay/PayPal and you have to refund the money.

I don’t claim to know exactly how the scam works in detail –but I would be willing to place a large bet that this is a scam.

In my book, How To Start and Run an eBay Consignment Business, I lay out my rules for dealing with consignors:

  • Only deal with consignors you can meet face-to-face
  • Always take possession of the goods.
  • Insist on photo ID (divers license) and pay the consignor by check to that address
  • Do not pay consignors until you are sure the transaction is complete and the buyer is satisfied

If you have any insight into how this scam works or if you have seen this, please leave a comment.  I do have to approve comments but I will be watching closely for these and approve them quickly.

Comments

Comment from eBetsy
Time February 9, 2011 at 2:18 pm

There’s a dead giveaway right in the first paragraph that this guy is a liar (and it’s a ploy in common with many flagrant eBay-related scams): He says, “The winning bidder asked me to use eBay escrow service…”. There is no such thing as eBay escrow, but scammers love to cite it as a “safety measure” in their rip-off schemes. I’ll let you draw your own conclusion…

Comment from John W. Abert
Time February 9, 2011 at 5:39 pm

I agree with you completely, Skip. As a TA myself, I have gotten two of these scams (not from this guy, though) in the last couple of weeks. The address bar always says they are from the TA directory, which makes you think they come from the eBay TA site, but they never seem to look quite “official” enough. They are never local, and always want to “dictate” what kind of deal they are going to do with me.
My services and pricing are on the eBay site along with my web address, where I have a contact form, and if they want to deal with a TA, then the proper thing is to contact them through the proper channels first. Although I am willing to negotiate on certain deals, I never let the customer dictate to me what they are going to do for me in an initial contact. That is a HUGE red flag! My pricing structure is plainly visible, and I make no apologies for the prices on it. TA’s earn every bit of what they charge, no matter what it is.
I have been in online marketing for eleven years, and have seen about every scam there is to see, and I can spot them a mile away. I have three different agencies that I use, where EVERY spam letter and scam is forwarded to, and they work very well to shut down the problems, but not necessarily at the source.
I recently discovered that one of the major autoresponders was hacked into again, roughly a year from the last attack, whether they will admit it or not. I know because I have set up dedicated email addresses at my company for the marketers that I get newsletters from (including you) and recently I have gotten spam emails from some of these addresses (but not yours). The thing they have in common is that they are all using the same autoresponder. Once someone gets one of those lists, it’s next to impossible to stop it from being circulated. Even if you have one spammer’s email address shut down, either they will set up a new one, or someone else will use the list and keep it going. I have since shut down the marketer’s email addresses on my own server, and changed them to something else. That’s the only “for sure” way you can stop them from sending any more to you!
Any experienced marketer knows that you never use only one email address. If something happens, you have a lot of hours invested in fixing it. Set up different addresses for different uses (I have close to thirty, all routed through extremely good spam filters and then managed on one program), and even some dedicated ones if necessary, then if something goes wrong, you only have to change addresses on a small part of your system (NOT your entire address book), plus, you know exactly where the problem originated! And NEVER, EVER put an email address on a web site, even in the html. The crooks use harvesting software that searches the web for those kinds of things, and you are asking for problems. Use contact forms instead. I have gotten a lot of scams from ads on “you know who’s List”. If they can’t contact you directly they will even go through his private customer contact system to send junk to you. The only way to stop that is to make sure your check boxes are set (above your ad) so that it hides his contact form, so that they have to use whatever is in the ad to contact you through a web site or phone number. NEVER put an email address on an ad on his “List”! They won’t usually spam a phone number (most of them are overseas anyway, and won’t call long distance), but the best way is use a web page with a contact form on it, protected by a captcha form. The spam harvester robots can’t decipher the picture, and can’t get through it. But they have been known to fill out contact forms that are unprotected! Smart robots!
Anyway, we teach things like this in our classes. I wish everyone did….maybe we could put the spammers and scammers out of business if everyone would be aware of how they work!

Comment from Lisa
Time February 9, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Skip, I agree this smells to high heaven but there are several possible forms the scam could take. In addition to these you’ve suggested (i.e. along the theme of no goods in hand to even be delivered — this may be an seller of cheap knockoffs, possibly someone whose account has already been suspended by eBay, and is looking for a seller of good reputation through which to peddle their junk.

Comment from Lakshmi – Virtual assistant
Time February 9, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Hi Skip

Thank you for giving this email and the details of the fraud. We will certainly look into it and keep away from it.

Comment from kathleen
Time December 6, 2011 at 6:20 pm

I received this email the other day. SCAM!!!

I’m looking for people with eBay seller accounts to list and sell my items on eBay. Your eBay feedback would be preferred to be over 5 and 100% positive, linked to a PayPal verified account.
All my products are genuine, not fake or counterfeit!!
Funds will be transferred by the most convenience way for both of us (we can discuss about payment to find the best way) or your commission (30% of sales) would stay in your PayPal account, plus eBay and other processors fees.
Items would be shipped out as soon as I receive the buyers details ( full name, address).
For your safety and good customer service, my share from sales will be sent to me after the item is received and feedback positive is left for you.

Please feel free to email me back, for more details (Please include your eBay ID and location in the message)

Thank you!

Nathan McCoy

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