Thursday, September 22, 2005

Scamming Scammers & The Scheming Scammers Who Scam Them Back


I was recently the victim of a vigilante on eBay who took revenge on me because of this website.

While some consider this site to be vigilante justice ... it's actually nothing of the sort. Some may also consider this site opinion, when really, it's just clarification of facts I collect on the internet. (Sometimes I throw in a little conspiracy ... researched of course.)

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The following story is from May 20, 2004:

Seven Nation Army ~ The White Stripes from the iTunes Music Store

MACS spelled backwards is SCAM


Over the weekend a story surfaced on Slashdot that caught my attention. I was almost sure that the story would flood the normal Mac news outlets this week, so I wanted to provide a JackWhispers take on the article.

One could say that this site is a form of vigilante justice. Initially, its intent was to root out the problems with MacMice CEO Jack Campbell - he would be tried in a court of public opinion, rather than a court of law. Jack, I suppose, through this site or some other way, saw the light. He's doing quite well and all is peaceful concerning MacMice. AT NO TIME, did I ever bend the truth, break any policies of any website or business; and of course, never ever broke any law.

So, this past weekend - we have a story about someone who was going to be scammed over a PowerBook G4 on eBay. Below is a bullet point listing of what happened:

* A guy lists a PowerBook on eBay (saying it was his own, but it was actually a friend's)

* He gets an offer from someone in the UK who asks that he consider ending the auction early

* The potential buyer asks if the seller will use an escrow service (buyer recommends a service)

* The seller hasn't heard of the escrow service so decides to investigate before giving the potential buyer a decision

* The seller finds out in a forum that the escrow site is a fake.

* The seller decides he wants to scam the scammer

* Seller decides to construct a dummy PowerBook and box it up with books to add weight (see pictures)

* Shipping costs of the "DummyBook" are high to the UK because buyer has requested overnight shipping

* Seller collects money by Paypal donation from members of his forum to perpetrate the scam of the buyer

* Seller sends the "DummyBook" via FedEx - he lists the contents as PowerBook G4 and the value as $2200

* The purpose is to make the buyer (an alleged scammer) have to pay duty of 27.5% of $2200 in duty fees = $605


Sounds great, right? Beat the scammer at his own game! This is wrong! I can't express my disgust and dismay at so many on Slashdot and that will probably surface as this story gets more and more circulation that agree that what this person did was the right thing to do. So many people have found favor in this vigilante justice story.

"There's no right way to do the wrong thing."


So, let's dissect this story ... shall we?

The "sale" resulted as an advertisement for the item on eBay. He listed it legitimately by posting an auction. The buyer, although a scammer, was promised by contract had he bid on the PowerBook G4 from the auction. The sale did not take place on eBay. The seller was made an offer off eBay. This detail doesn't negate the fact that the seller perpetrated a scam and did NOT send what was advertised in the auction. Should he have sent the PowerBook? No, of course not. ALL he should have done was forget the scammer and post to his friends a "what if..." scenario. Instead, the seller chose to receive some sort of glory and recognition for the story. In my opinion, getting a front page mention on Slashdot and most likely several outlets this week is an honor. The reverse scam the seller pulled was done for the sole purpose of ego stroking.

This guy went too far and HE stretched a lot of venues to get back at this scammer.

You CAN NOT COLLECT money through Paypal (even from willing benefactors) to defraud someone. He collected monies for the single purpose of paying for a FedEx package that was listed as a PowerBook and valued at $2200.


I'll repeat that in a different way: He asked for donations for a scam himself. You cannot ask for anyone to send you money through Paypal to contribute to a scam or pyramid scheme or for any purpose that is to defraud someone. He collected monies for the purpose of perpetrating a scam.

Compare this to collecting monies to buy a gun to kill someone - everyone who sends the money is an acomplice to a crime!

Just because you don't like someone doesn't justify breaking the law or breaking service policies to get back at them.

eBay was defrauded - he listed the item there - and then made a seperate deal for the item off of eBay.The seller alerted eBay and eBay ended up cancelling the auction and refunding fees, so eBay itself isn't out any money, but the seller used the venue to receive notariety and recognition and to run a scam. The sale was made under the premise that he was shipping what was listed in the auction. It is expressly forbidden in eBay policy to make off site offers and to use ebay as a venue for pyramid schemes, scams, or the selling of unauthorized or stolen items.

Here's an excerpt from the Paypal policy page:

Warning:

You may not use PayPal to sell replica, counterfeit, or otherwise unauthorized items. Violations of PayPal's Replica and Counterfeit Item policy could result in the suspension of your account.

The seller sold a replica of a PowerBook and he also broke this policy:

Guideline:

You may not use PayPal to sell a product that bears the name or logo of a company, but wasn't made or endorsed by that company.

Both of these policies may illustrate a stretch of the policy as applied to this instance, but were broken just the same. A white lie is the same as ANY lie.

One of my favorite quotes, that is placed on many JackWhipsers pages is by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr:

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere"




Lastly, I'd like to say something sort of unrelated, but merits mention - as I am an Apple parts dealer on eBay - selling or buying a PowerBook on eBay or Yahoo auctions is the riskiest thing you could POSSIBLY do. If you even bid in ANY POWERBOOK auction or SELL ANY PowerBook (newer than 3 years) you are deluged with offers from Romania for $800 PowerBook G4 17".

The story was interesting and entertaining - but the outlets to properly "report a crime" are readily available and much less costly and time consuming. A lot of those resources are listed here. To all those reading: this site is a free resource.

From a Slashdot post:

"There's a couple of ways I can think that this could seriously backfire. It occurred to me that, however unlikely, it is possible that it wasn't a fraud in the first place. I KNOW better, of course, but there you go -- he pays for the merchandise and our hero, who decided that two wrongs make a right, might end up in a lot of trouble!"


Reply: I thought about this too. I'm not siding with the scammer, but wouldn't it be the perfect revenge for the scammer to just pay the $2200.00 - he would be able to recover it plus damages in court not to mention send the seller to jail for a VERY long time.

From a post I made on MacTeens.com about this topic:

" I find dissatisfaction in the FACT that this may prompt MORE vigilante justice with LEGIT Apple VARS and legit Apple section sellers on eBay and Yahoo."

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