Author Topic: eBay / PayPal victims of fraud - What To Do  (Read 7253 times)

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eBay / PayPal victims of fraud - What To Do
« on: September 06, 2009, 07:29:58 PM »
eBay / PayPal victims of fraud - What To Do

Being defrauded online can be extraordinarily distressing. There are additional and particular factors that may make it more distressing than being defrauded by a b&m shop (bricks & mortar – that is, a shop with a street address as opposed to an online shop site) or than being defrauded by a person-to-person scam.

These factors centre around the issue of the transaction having been online. By that, I mean we as consumers can be under the impression that the online world is a kingdom unto itself. We can believe that the internet is a jungle subject to no rules but those established by some vague international body, or that a site or online company is bound by no obligations but those it will consent to by itself.

The upshot is that the following scenario is not unusual:

A.   George buys an item. For some reason, the purchase is NOT covered by PayPal’s Buyer Protection Policy, but George is not aware of that at the time of purchase.
B.   The item doesn’t arrive or is a complete fake.
C.   George opens a dispute, and the result is that either it’s not resolved in his favour – OR it is resolved in his favour but PayPal say the total amount to be refunded is $0.00.
D.   The email from PayPal says this result is final. There’s no further avenue of appeal, in other words.
E.   George will be out of pocket and defrauded, apparently, to the tune of a lot of money. He can hardly believe this is possible. He relied on the apparent protection offered by eBay or PayPal or both, but is now being told of all sorts of exceptions to the rule. George tries to get in touch with eBay, but there’s no phone number and certainly no office to which he can go in order to discuss this. George tries to get in touch with PayPal, but it’s a frustrating phone experience and he can’t go to an office to discuss this with a senior PayPal staff member. There is no way to get in touch with eBay or PayPal physically, and apparently they can simply flout consumer protection…
F.   … or can they?
G.   Now – neither eBay nor PayPal will say anything to counter the overwhelming effect that their words about “final decisions” and “no further appeals” will have. But the reality is that both eBay and PayPal had to make certain agreements in order to be able to function in Australia. There ARE actually regulatory bodies that have authority over this sort of unfair decision, and there ARE further avenues and final appeals, and this is NOT the final decision eBay or PayPal would have you believe.

Purchasing online is not actually an insulated experience. Buyers and sellers who commit fraud online are as legally culpable as if they do it face to face or in a shop. When it comes to the money trail, information is not invisible… and there are ways to seek restitution. It won’t always result in being fully refunded, but these methods are worth trying, because the chance of success is infinitely greater if you try than if you do nothing in the belief that there’s no point in it.

The eBay/PayPal Complaint Process

To talk to Live Help, click on this link (and please don’t bother with “Emma”, the virtual agent; choose the “live agent”). SAVE the chat (include the time and date) – you will need this information. You are not likely to get any actual help, but follow through with this. Note with whom you spoke. (The reason why will be obvious later.)

If you purchased through eBay, and didn’t use PayPal, your first step should be to seek full recompense through a dispute. The likelihood of your being recompensed is virtually zero, but you must go through the steps. The link is here. Note the response, note from whom the response is received, and note any action you take or receive subsequently.

If you did use PayPal, the link is here. Note any response you receive, and note from whom you receive the response. This is all information you will need.

You can further waste your time by writing to eBay – the address is:

Locked Bag 10,
Australia Sq PO
Sydney  NSW  1215
Australia

(They can’t accept registered post or express post, and they can’t accept parcels.) Keep a record of anything you’ve sent and when. Note any response, and from whom the response is received.

You can waste your time even more by emailing eBay – you will receive a cut-and-paste response within 2 or 3 days that has absolutely nothing to do with your situation, and which seems like a Dalíesque joke (because it will seem like a machine-fabricated piece of fantasy without relevance to a single thing you mentioned in your email). But do it anyway. Be prepared to be exasperated. Reply to the nonsensical reply by stating that the email did NOT answer your question, restate your situation and all the details, and wait again. You may have to go through this process 2 or 3 times before a real human answers your email rather than a bot-generated reply being sent, and don’t expect a resolution to your problem when you DO receive a human reply. But you DO NEED to go through this process. Save each email – those sent and those received. You’ll need those too.

To contact eBay by email, you'll have to use their online form.

(Please note the contact page image is shown at the bottom of this post.) >> Please right-click onto the image and select "View Image" to view it in full size.

Each time you call PayPal, keep a record of the conversation; what you said, what the PayPal customer service representative said, the name of each customer representative to whom you speak, etc. Note the time and date and duration of each phone call as well.

Are you feeling fed up already? Don’t. It’s just possible that eBay and Paypal WANT you to feel like that. Simply go through the process, keep the information, and then you’ll be armed when you find that none of your efforts so far have resulted in a full refund.

Ready for the next step?

The Ombudsman

If you’re not satisfied with the eBay/PayPal outcome, and you’ve done all you can to make sure that eBay and PayPal had the information necessary to investigate the fraud but failed to give you the protection you were under the impression they would give you, you can lodge a complaint with the Financial Ombudsman Service (Banking & Finance Division). The link to the online complaint form is here.

Please note that where you’re asked for the name of the financial institution about whom you’re lodging this dispute, you do NOT enter the name of the defrauding seller (or buyer, if it’s a buyer who’s committed the fraud against you). No. You’re lodging the dispute about PayPal. Enter “PayPal” as the party concerned.

You will be asked “Have you contacted the financial institution about this problem?” – this is why I said you will need to go through the process of contacting eBay and PayPal.

You will be asked “If Yes, which department/person did you speak to or have contact with?” – this is why I said you should keep notes about the people with whom you’re in contact.

You will be asked “If Yes, when did you contact this department?” – this is why you should keep records of times and dates and durations of each contact, be it phone, email, chat, mail or fax.

You will be asked “Has the financial institution finalised its review of the dispute?” – this is why you must keep all records of email communications, because this is how eBay and PayPal communicate their “reviews” and “decisions”.

You will be asked, “If Yes, please provide details of the outcome and send a copy of any response received.” – this is why you will have kept all original emails, and copies of all sent emails, and of course you’ll have kept any written communications as well. Phone conversations noted down in point form are also useful.

You will then have space to “Please include specific detail about what has happened and explain what you consider to be the financial services provider’s error. You should forward separately copies of any documentation you have to support your claim including a copy of any response received from the financial services provider.” You will be able to demonstrate you did everything required to ensure that a satisfactory outcome protecting your rights as a consumer or trader was reached by PayPal. If PayPal did not satisfactorily resolve the situation to ensure you were fully protected, you have the information to show this was not due to any mitigation of action on your part, and you will have of course all of the original information about the actual fraud (emails, messages, screenshots, etc.).

It is not as cumbersome as it might seem. Just keep records of everything, and you will be fine.

Online fraud reported to police

Of course you will be likely to want the perpetrator of the fraud to be held accountable as well. Fraud is a criminal offence. Increasingly, the police are taking online fraud more seriously, to the extent that there’s a special unit set up specifically to deal with this.

According to this page, you should report online fraud to your local police.

Quote
Report online fraud
If you are a victim of online fraud you should report it to your local police, who should:
•   take a report of the crime, identifying relevant offence(s) under state legislation.
•   compile any relevant victim and witness statements.
•   take copies of relevant documentation.
•   consider capturing electronic evidence. Your local law enforcement agency has a specialist area to assist with this consideration and any requirements.
•   conduct any relevant checks relating to suspect information and include an investigation file.
•   compile a cover sheet detailing the investigation conducted and requesting any further investigation.
•   transfer the file to the appropriate agency with jurisdiction relating to the suspect.
You will need to ensure that you preserve any electronic evidence relating to the matter, including emails and any relevant computer logs. If you can, please copy this information to a CD or DVD and take it to the police station when you report the matter.

The AHTCC recommends that you print out the above advice and present it to your local police when you report the matter.

However, the specific site that gives the most detailed information and resources to dealing with and reporting online fraud is the Queensland Police Service website.

The site is here. The page says:

Quote
Report Online Auction Fraud
Are You The Victim Of Online Auction Fraud?
All police jurisdictions throughout Australia have agreed to streamline their procedures to make it easier for members of our community to report incidents of online auction fraud.
There are several popular online auction websites. The largest of these, and thereby the most common source of complaints, involve eBay.
Other popular online auction sites include, OZtion, Grays Online, BidSell and AuctionBidz.
Online auction transactions always involve communication between buyer and seller via email. To assist police at a later stage, it is important that you keep the original emails in your email inbox.
To make a complaint of online auction fraud please follow the steps outlined below:
•   Step One: Reporting Your Dispute to the Online Auction Website.
•   Step Two: Determining the Country/State of the Offender.
•   Step Three: Lodging Your Complaint with the Correct Jurisdiction.

You will be asked whether or not you've sought resolution through the dispute process in place on eBay, etc.

Quote
Step One
Did you know that over 70% of disputes can be resolved through resolution processes already in place via the auction website?
Have You Reported Your Dispute To The Online Auction Website?
 
You have previously reported your dispute to the online auction website and you believe that you are a victim of fraud.  You want to file an official report with police.
Continue to Step Two: Determining the Country/State of the Offender
 
You have not yet reported your dispute to the online auction website. Before the police will take a complaint from any person, you must attempt to resolve the matter through the formal dispute resolution process available to you via the relevant website.

The following downloadable documents may provide some assistance to resolve your auction dispute:

eBay disputes – pdf file
Oztion disputes – pdf file

You’ll notice that here, too, it will be expected that you have attempted to seek resolution through the website (i.e., eBay, PayPal, Oztion, etc.). If you HAVEN’T DONE THIS, you can go no further. So please – even though you may think it’s pointless going through eBay’s dispute resolution process, you do need to work your way through the process. Even though you may not achieve a resolution, you will be able to show that you have done all that was necessary in seeking that resolution.

Once you can honestly say that you have indeed tried to resolve the matter through the formal dispute resolution process, and there’s been no satisfactory outcome, you can look at the second step:

Quote
Step Two
Before you can make a complaint you first need to determine what State or Country the offender lives in.
How Do I Work Out Where This Is?
1.   If you have reported your dispute to the relevant online auction website, you should have been provided with the offender’s contact details, including their name, telephone number and city.
2.   Where did you send your money or product?  If you were a buyer, did you send the money via direct deposit into a bank account?  If so, what was the branch number (BSB) of the account you deposited to (your bank may be able to assist with this inquiry)?  If you were the seller, what postal address did you send your product to?
If the answers to the above enquiries consistently put the offender in the same state/country, you can proceed to Step Three.
If the answers to the above enquiries result in different states/countries, then please contact your local police to assist you in determining where the offender lives.
If you can certainly narrow down the address of the offender to one location (rather than come up with conflicting information), you can proceed to the the next stage.

An example of the sort of information you’ll need is shown here (offender in Victoria, for instance):

Quote
 If you live in a state or territory other than Victoria, please read on.
  If you live in Victoria, these instructions DO NOT apply to you and you MUST attend at your local Victoria Police Station to make a crime report.
  Where you have determined that the offender resides in Victoria, the Queensland Police require you to report the matter directly to the Victoria Police. To do so please download and complete a Witness Statement (  196 KB) in as much detail as possible. Please note that Victoria Police's primary concern will be with investigating and prosecuting any alleged criminal offence.

 Witness Statement (Word Document) 196 KB

 Witness Statement (Rich Text Format)  2068 KB

Instructions:
1.   Ensure you have completed the dispute resolution process with your online auction provider.
2.   Print proof of having completed with the relevant internet auction provider (for example, the copy of the email acknowledging completion of the process).
3.   On the first page of the Witness Statement, fill out all of your contact information.
4.   For the rest of the statement replace the bold writing in brackets (<< ?? >>) with the information relevant to your complaint. Do not leave brackets in the finished document (<< >>).
5.   Before printing your statement, change all the bold print into normal, delete all the instructions (in blue) and brackets.
6.   Label each of your attachments to correspond with the Exhibit number listed in the statement. Exhibits should be attached as an Appendix to the witness statement. They should not be placed within the Witness Statement document. In the Witness Statement only provide the Exhibit number and description.
7.   Write a separate outline of the investigations that determined that the offender resides in Victoria, and print that.
8.   Print out the statement and take it to your local Police station. Sign the statement in the presence of a Police Officer who will also sign and witness the statement. (Victorian law requires that your statement be witnessed by a Police Officer).
Once all of the above have been completed you should post the original, signed hardcopy of your statement along with all relevant exhibits or other attachments (including proof of having lodged a dispute with the relevant auction provider) to the following address:

   E-Crime Desk
   Crime Department
   Victoria Police
   Level 6, 452 Flinders St
   Melbourne VIC 3000
   DX210007
 
Other Information:
PLEASE REMEMBER THAT YOUR COMPLAINT WILL NOT BE ACTIONED UNLESS YOU FOLLOW THE ABOVE INSTRUCTIONS. YOU MUST COMPLETE A WITNESS STATEMENT AND PROVIDE PROOF OF HAVING COMPLETED A DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROCESS WITH THE RELEVANT INTERNET AUCTION PROVIDER/WEBSITE.
If you were a victim of internet auction fraud on an auction site other than eBay (such as OZtion), the above statement is still appropriate to complete, just edit the statement to reflect, which internet auction website you were using.
For evidentiary purposes it is extremely important that you keep the original emails in your email inbox until the investigation has been finalised.
If you purchased multiple items from the same seller, please complete a single witness statement for all of those purchases.
If your report relates to purchasing an accommodation package from "beachesaustralia" and or "sunlizardholidays" via eBay, Victoria Police do not require you to complete the eBay dispute resolution process prior to reporting to police. The report number required by eBay is Operation UNPURE.
Inquiries to Victoria Police (not including lodgement of a complaint, which must be received in hard copy and signed) can be emailed to:
e-crimedesk-oic@police.vic.gov.au

If your defrauder lives overseas, it might be difficult… Interpol won’t even initiate an investigation for a fraud for less than $8,000 – but don’t lose hope. It’s still worth lodging your complaint. The person who defrauded you might have defrauded others as well, and it might be that your information proves to be the nail that closed the coffin. The page concerning overseas offenders is here:

Quote
Overseas Police
You have determined that the offender lives Overseas.
If the offender is overseas it may be difficult to recover your money or product.  Interpol, being the international agency that liaises with federal law enforcement agencies to initiate investigations, will not conduct inquiries if the fraud offence is less that $8000 AUD.
If you have any queries, please contact the Computer Crime Investigation Unit on 07 3364 4131.

United States of America
To notify United States of America authorities, please submit a report directly via:
http://www.ic3.gov/complaint

Canada
To notify Canadian authorities, please submit a report directly via:
https://www.recol.ca/intro.aspx

For All Other Countries
To notify police in other overseas jurisdictions, please fill out the overseas questionaire (  56 KB) and email it to the Computer Crime Investigation Unit at Queensland Police (onlineauctionfraud@bigpond.com). This unit will evaluate your complaint and forward it to the relevant authorities if deemed appropriate. In any event, you will be advised as to what is happening.
N.B. This facility is only available for Queensland based residents. If you reside in another state you need to report your complaint to your local station.

In short – don’t EVER think it’s pointless doing anything. The only certainty is that if you report nothing, nothing will be done.

Tracking down your seller by other means

There are some other methods you can use to try to get a line on your defrauder. This topic offers some good suggestions, and there may well be other means as well.

Good luck!
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Liisa-Sx

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Re: eBay / PayPal victims of fraud - What To Do
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2010, 08:43:00 PM »
If Paypal has unfairly ruled against you in a dispute, whether you are a buyer or a seller you can take the matter further.

If you have been scammed as a buyer or as a seller and you feel you have sufficient documentation or proof that Paypal have wrongly ruled against in a dispute which is leaving you:

    * out of pocket due to a payment reversal or chargeback and Paypal refuse to refund you
    * or Paypal have taken/removed payment(s) from you
    * or Paypal has frozen your Paypal account
    * or placed a 21 day hold on an ebay payment you have received in your paypal account
    * or your paypal account has been fraudulently used

If there is behaviour/practice of paypal/ebay you find anti competitive or you think violates your rights as a consumer you could lodge a written complaint.
 
You can lodge written complains to:

1) The Banking Ombudsman
2) Office of Fair Trading
3) ACCC

If you do a search on the internet you will find websites for 1), 2) and 3).

Banking and Financial Services Ombudsman:

    * Phone : 1300 780 808
    * Fax : (03) 9613 7345
    * Address:

Banking and Financial Services Ombudsman
GPO Box 3A
MELBOURNE VIC 3001

Contact information for Paypal:

    * Phone : (02) 8223 9500
    * Fax : (02) 8288 0001
    * Email : service@paypal.com.au
    * Address:

PayPal Australia Pty Ltd
Locked Bag 10
Australia Square PO
SYDNEY NSW 1251

Or make a written complaint here,

Ms Kirsty Poole Fax: (02) 8288 0001
Complaints Manager
PayPal Australia Pty Limited
Locked Bag 10
AUSTRALIA SQUARE NSW 1215

If the Banking Ombudsman rules in your favour then Paypal will  have to reverse their decision and rule in your favour.
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