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Archive for November, 2003

Fishing for a computer

Wednesday, November 5th, 2003

Charla has been chasing G4’s on eBay, and learning about eBay fraud. We’re looking for a Dual Proc G4 1Ghz or faster to do our home video editing and burning. We’ve had a couple bids on a few just to get in the game. During the day several time Charla would IM me “Ooh, check this one out!”. I have to admit it’s been fun. We’re admittably drooling at some of the 1.42Ghz ones with more than a gig of memory, drool, drool.

Well yesterday, we saw this deal come up for something that was sooo entirely too good to be true. Get this, Dual 1.42 Ghz G4, 2Gb RAM about 724G of hard disk… That was just the computer. Also on the same bid, a 23″ Cinema Display, a second 20″ Cinema Display, and an iPod. So, yeah you’re thinking yeah, Ten Thousand dollars, right? It was a “Buy it Now” for $1800. So, we are like “This is waaaay to good to be true”, so we start digging deeper. The seller had a 100% positive rating, over 200 transactions, but upon inspection, very few of those transactions were selling. Upon further inspection on the items sold or bought, it seemed that our seller had a fetish for buying or selling, not computers, but dresses. Dresses, jackets, other clothing, but up one day he/she decided to sell a computer. Yeah, I could still believe that.

Upon going back to the procuct search again, we noticed another result for a computer that was very similar also selling 23″ AND 20″ cinema displays with the computer. It wasn’t the same seller though. Hmm… Over the course of the next hours we saw just about 2 freakin’ hundred auctions placed by various sellers all for items like G4s, digital camcorders, Plasma TVs, Laptops, a whole lot of stuff. Still, most all of the auctions looked different, they were all for electronics stuff, totally varying descriptions and payment options. We saw one seller with over one hundred items for sale, none of them were under 500 dollars. And this seller had never sold anything, and nearly everything he had bought was either antique pottery, or old barber scissors. The other thing I found odd about this seller was that the 100 actions he had were somehow all posted within seconds of each other, like some computer bot he wrote did the entry for all of them. All 100 or so were entered in under 10 minutes. Yes, I guess, it *could* be possible that this is normal activity, I guess…

Well, my wife Charla is one of the most wonderful honest people you could meet. She was just all twisted with anxiety about these bids because they all looked like perfectly good items, from a seller with a great reputation –items that she herself would bid on if we hadn’t been watching this activity. She really got upset when she saw people bidding on these items. So, she started sending emails to a couple of the bidders, politely warning about what she’d seen. She sent a couple more to some of the sellers of these funny auctions. Our theory, of course, was that someone had stolen password to their eBay account and possibly their email account as well.

One seller wrote back “What are you talking about?”, and we were worried that we were just being naive. Then a couple hours later we looked back at a couple of them, and voila! Like magic many of the auctions had disappeared! Even that guy that had 100 items for sale, was completely cleared out. He was selling nothing.

So, our curiousity had been piqued anyways by that first “Super Deal”, and we had sent the seller a message to ask about the auction. To our surprise, she answered back twice to our questions. So “her” story was that the computers were given to a charity in the Netherlands, and that she bought the computers from them, and was selling them at just above her cost. She had really bad english typos and said she was currently in “Roma, Italy”. Her eBay profile said she created her account in Canada somewhere. She gave us some elaborate instructions on how to pay her through Western Union in such a way that we could get the computer and test it out before payment was in her hands. Yeah, maybe she worked for the Italian Mafia.

The funny thing is that I’m still not able to shake the thought that we are missing out on a Killer deal… Oh well.

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