Bot-On-Bot eBay Scamming

from the when-the-bots-takeover dept

It's one of the oldest eBay scams in the book: sell something you don't have, pocket the money and walk away. However, these days, for it to work you need to have at least a decent eBay feedback reputation. A few years ago, this would work out with the scammer acting as a legit eBay user for a few months, buying and selling various cheap items, building up a decent profile... and then putting up some big expensive item for the scam payoff. Again, however, the times are changing and that process is too involved -- so the next generation of scammers has move on to eBay scamming automation. They use bots to scan eBay and buy $0.01 "buy it now" items. Apparently, many of the sellers who offer such things use bots themselves to manage all those offers -- including the near automatic "good feedback" stamps of approval. So, the bots talk to the bots, and any new scamming user can build up a nice looking feedback page with tons of successful deals -- all at just a penny a shot. The bots can create tons of new users as well, all of which are quickly building up good eBay reputations. Then, they can waltz in with the real scam and drop the account, and move right on to the next "primed" account their bot has set up for them. So far, there's no evidence that the bots on both sides may be controlled by the same scammers -- but each side benefits by getting a near automatic feedback boost.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    rijit (profile), Aug 1st, 2006 @ 12:06am

    Ewwww!

    Icky! I wish those Bots would quit doing that in public!

     

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  2.  
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    Xcetron, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 12:08am

    Man always figure out a way to cheat a system which he has created to better himself.

     

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  3.  
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    bored now, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 12:38am

    hardly surprising

    At work we raised the problem of penny items and feedback farming a long time ago. Since then I've had some success in ID-ing bad guys' new accounts by analysing feedback on penny items.

    This is just me, using the plain vanilla web interface, with no access to the API. Meanwhile eBay, with God level access to the database have achieved...?

     

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  4.  
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    Ben Robinson, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 1:11am

    THis has been going on for years, that is why it is important to actually dig into the feedback a bit. If most of the feedback is from penny items then they are a scammer.

     

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  5.  
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    Tim, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 1:22am

    Simple solution?

    Surely eBay can just add average transaction value to a person's account details? If it's under 5p or so, and the seller has more than 20 transactions, you might want to think twice about who you are buying from.....

     

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  6.  
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    firemeg, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 1:32am

    Conspiracy Theory...

    eBay has been looking to rid the site of items priced at a penny for a long time now. This may give them reason to do so. Could it be an inside job? I'm not saying that they are scamming people, but could the technology have been created by eBay? Seems like it should be an easy loophole to fix, yet they don't seem to be doing anything - if they were, it wouldn't have gotten as far as the internet blogs.

     

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  7.  
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    DJ, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 3:02am

    Hrm

    Could this be a start of an Internet intelligence, with the basic building blocks being viriuses, trojans, and automated bots? While the individual behaivior of these can be a nuisance, will the emergant properties be something more?

    I rue the day when the Internet starts talking to all of us-- but in spam.. or in Scam Nigerian. What kind of deep buried "animalistic" urges will it have in it's brain? When it gets mad, will it yell V1aRA?

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 3:15am

    ebay sellers are required to register their credit card details with ebay. These fake accounts would be no good for scamming unless the scammers also had access to large amounts of stolen credit card numbers which had not yet been reported stolen...

     

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  9.  
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    bored now, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 3:22am

    Re:

    Yet suspended sellers seem to have no difficulty opening multiple accounts or re-registering. Take the people selling fakes - are we supposed to believe that they all have access to multiple stolen numbers?

     

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  10.  
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    Why Register, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 4:06am

    I guess a nice anonymous visa gift card would be simple and untraceable.

     

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  11.  
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    Sean, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 4:44am

    Member for how long

    I suppose you should check and see how long the seller has been a member. If they've only been a registered eBayer for a month or two, but have racked up dozens of transactions, you should think twice about doing business with them.

    In the end I think it's each person's responsibility to protect themselves from being scammed, the same way things are done in the real world. It would be helpful though if eBay provided the information that people need to make good decisions.

     

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  12.  
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    bgmacaw, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 5:33am

    Hijacked Accounts are the biggest problem

    The much bigger problem are hijacked account auctions. Scammers nab eBay accounts via phishing emails and web sites. Even powersellers with 1000's of feedback have fallen for these phishes. The scammers then use the stolen accounts to list 100's of high demand items, such as plasma TVs, on the account.

    These auctions have several basic characteristics in common. First, they always ask the potential bidder to contact the seller via email before bidding at an email address and not through the 'ask the seller a question' link. Next, they'll almost always be one day auctions however the 'seller' will have a 'buy-it-now' price mentioned in the listing. And, they will most often be miscatagorized to avoid detection by eBay's own fraud bots, for example, a Plasma TV might be listed under Doll Clothing.

    Should a bidder respond to the email, they will be told that the item, or one like it, is available if the bidder will Western Union the seller X amount of dollars. They may also mention Square Trade or some other service to try to build confidence. If the bidder/mark WU's them the money, then it's gone.

     

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  13.  
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    Matt, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 6:01am

    Re: Hijacked Accounts are the biggest problem

    I searched eBay under "Dolls and Bears" and found this "item:"
    http://cgi.ebay.com/Best-COMEDY-scene-Free-video_W0QQitemZ160014045357QQihZ006QQcategoryZ15 978QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem
    It's not a plasma tv, but it also isn't a doll or bear.
    Matt

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 6:02am

    Simple fix - list the total cash volume of trades along with feedback - will give a much better overall picture of the buyer/seller.

     

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  15.  
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    Sanguine Dream, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 7:03am

    And after this...

    can someone work on that whole bid sniping thing?

     

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  16.  
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    cjay, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 7:15am

    Simple Sniping Soltuion

    I don't know what the arguement against this is, perhaps someone can enlighten me... Extend teh close of auctions 5 minutes after the last bid, and if people keep bidding, keep extending. Then the snipers can sit there and keep running the price up and everyone has a fair shot at getting in on the action. It's good for the sellers, feels better to the buyers and EBay get's a higher selling price from which to take a cut. How is that not the win win?

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 7:16am

    Yeah, i just wish no one was allowed to bid before the end of the auction....

    what would be nice is if there was one of those picture text things you had to enter before you bid. so no one could send a bot at like .0003 seconds before the auction ends.

    there could be a little delay, like if you register to bid at .00001, you still have 30 seconds or something to complete your bid.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 7:17am

    are snipers bots?

    i remember an ebay sniping bot...way back wen, like frogman or whatev

     

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  19.  
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    Nate, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 7:20am

    Sniping..

    Wasn't that how Yahoo's auctions worked at one time?

     

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  20.  
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    WhoNu, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 7:32am

    I just looked and the ebay items I see that are listed for $.01 also have a $4.99-$6.99 shipping fee. Wouldn't this get expensive for a scammer to set up like is described here?

     

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  21.  
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    Sherry, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 7:45am

    Use a Credit Card....

    When purchasing items on eBay, just use your credit card through Paypal. If you don't get your item, your credit card company WILL get the money back from Paypal. Paypal has to show them proof that the item was deliverd to you... which the buyer has to show Paypal with delivery confirmation or insurance on the package. This way eBay/Paypal are out the money.... not you! The scammer can run off if they like but it will be Paypal's problem to get their money back and your money is safe!

     

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  22.  
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    Taylor, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 7:55am

    Just Require Confirmation

    Why not just require confirmation like when you make a post on a lot of sites by reading the letters on the image.

    Is there any reason eBay would not want to do this?

     

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  23.  
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    Taylor, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 7:59am

    Re: Hijacked Accounts are the biggest problem

    I have fallen to this scam before. I bought a Mac Powerbook from a guy in Italy who required Western Union payment. YES I'M STUPID. But it's simply an example of this being a big problem.

    At the time, eBay was doing very little to combat this problem, but I think they are doing a little better.

    All you have to do is look at the history of a seller to find out if the item they are selling is normal activity for them. That pretty much exposes any scam.

     

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  24.  
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    DJT, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 8:25am

    Bid sniping

    The solution to bid sniping is if a bid occurs in the last NN seconds of the auction, then the auction is automatically put in extended mode for an additional
    XX seconds.

    I have no clue as to why ebay wouldn't do this, as it would certainly up their % profits and also up the profits for the seller.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 8:39am

    as a user, when an auction ends at time yy, the auciton is over. if i come in at yy - small time, and get highest bid, i win. i mean, anyone else has time in that small time to bid again, or they coulda bid higher. if they will pay xx and i will pay xx + .01, i have a higher price, then i win.

    it's almost like when an auctionere goes "once, twice, sold *bang*" if i bit when it goes bang, did i get in? who can tell?

    so, why should i have to bid again, when the auction keeps going on and on and on... it sucks, i know, but obviously you don't want the item as much as i do. if so, you'd either bit higher, or watch till the end.

    if you say you can't watch because of other commitments, well then you don't have a high enough value on the item, otherwise you'd candel your event and bid. i don't mean to be rude or anything, i'm sorry. but that's life. that's...eBay.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 8:56am

    if you are using the auctioneer example, if you get a bid in after the "once, twice" but before the "bang" he does not drop the hammer. He gives every one else a chance to bid before starting the "once, twice" bit again.


    This is just like an auto extending auction would work.


    The arguement against it is simple. Proxy bidding makes it pointless. Bid the absolute max you are willing to pay, if someone bids higher (whether that is 10 minutes before or 0.01 seconds before) then that was more than you were willing to pay, Right?

     

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  27.  
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    Sanguine Dream, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 9:07am

    Re:


    it's almost like when an auctionere goes "once, twice, sold *bang*" if i bit when it goes bang, did i get in? who can tell?


    When a auctionere goes "once..., twicce....,sold" there is time to offer a counter bid and if there is a counter bid then it goes "once...,twice,....(counter bid),...(a few seconds to wait for another counter bid)....once...., twice....,(if there is no other counter bid)....., sold.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 9:43am

    wait, i thought ebay had that feature, the "going once, going twice..." type auction.

    if any bid was placed within x minutes of the end of the auction, it would be extended for another y minutes. if another bid came in within x minuts of ending, another y minutes from the "end" till the new end..

    did it not take well with useres and they discontinued it?

     

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  29.  
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    Steve, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 10:32am

    http://www.moyen.org/snipe/myths.html

    This has all been discussed before. Check the link above for why none of that works to fix sniping. Basically, automatically extending an auction turns *everyone* into snipers because everyone has to be at their machine at the end of the auction.

    It's better (for buyers) to just put in your maximum bid, and leave it at that. Of course there will still be an advantage to doing that near the end of the auction, so there will always be snipers. But snipers don't "win" against you unless they are willing to pay more than you are.

     

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  30.  
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    Steve, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 10:54am

    I always wait till the last seconds to put in my bid. If I want an item that is up for $5 and maybe I'm willing to pay $10 for it, but I don't REALLY want it....I'll wait. If no one has bid on it and there are 30 secs left, I'll throw in my bid for $5. If I get it cool. If someone out bids me, fine, I didn't really want it that bad enough to put my max bid at $10 anyway.

    My 2 cents

     

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  31.  
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    Proxy bidding IS a sniper, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 11:01am

    Do people not realize that proxy bidding IS a sniper in itself? Enter the max that you are willing to pay, and the proxy will allow you to win at the lowest price. Snipers only work if they're willing to pay more than you (be it by $.01 or $100) , in which case they deserve to win.

    People who complain about snipers bug me to no end.

     

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  32.  
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    Lay Person, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 2:35pm

    BOooooring!

    Look people, just make sure that the feedbacks contain less-than or equal-to amounts of the same value as what you intend to purchase. This will ensure that the seller is legit to a large degree.

    As always: Buyer beware!

     

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  33.  
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    satan, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 2:42pm

    Re: And after this... bid sniping

    that's easy to fix. everytime someone puts a bid in with less that 10 seconds left it automatically adds another 10 seconds to the clock

     

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  34.  
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    firemeg, Aug 1st, 2006 @ 8:23pm

    sooooo naive....

    I've seen so many wrong, skewed and just plain naive comments on this thread that it is quite astonishing. No wonder eBay is a hotbed for scams and scammers.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2006 @ 9:59am

    Re:

    The arguement against it is simple. Proxy bidding makes it pointless.
    That's just another way of using a bot. And, unfortunately, the proxy bot eBay provides kicks in immediately to begin driving the price up. So many bidders subscribe to external proxy bot services that will wait until the last moment to begin bidding, resulting in sniping.

     

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  36.  
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    Fiercepanda, Oct 21st, 2006 @ 4:52am

    Re: What is a gift card?

    I must say that i was suspended from the Uk ebay for selling a policemans truncheon (Victorian one).It made me laugh because anyone can buy a set of kitchen knives but me....could not sell a collectible item?
    Anyway,What is a visa gift card???

     

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  37.  
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    pig, Mar 25th, 2007 @ 4:59am

    there onto you !

    Any thing written here would already be well known to e-Bayski, and there would be little that gets past that public company.
    They are rigourous in defending their business.
    d

     

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  38.  
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    nikko, May 13th, 2009 @ 10:55pm

    Email spamming

    I run a promotion company in canada. Here is my issue facebook nowadays really catches on to spam and your account will get deleted fairly quick i.e. you add to many people, sent to many messages, etc. I need to find a way where you can change your ip constantly and have thousands of accounts, also having networks of emails from around michigan area, mainly universitys and colleges, if anyone knows anything about this shoot me an email n.petrupis@live.ca will pay.

     

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  39.  
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    Jake Lopez, Jul 5th, 2010 @ 8:59am

    bot bidders

    Do not use Penny Purses website, I have the very same bid time on a purse and they said the other person won. Seems like the same people win each week, something is not right. Will be interested in what they write back since I notified them that two people having the same bid time and they select the other person's bid as a winner?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
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    Cody, Oct 14th, 2011 @ 4:47am

    Re: bot bidders

    I seem to see this problem with bidders whose name appears as something like a***d. I've figured out that if you confirm your bid at EXACTLY 4s left, it takes a 3s lead time so your bid hits at exactly 1s left, leaving the bot no time to counter. I've tried this three times so far and it hasn't failed me yet

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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