[DML] Your Delorean, terrorism and ebay
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[DML] Your Delorean, terrorism and ebay

Catchy title, huh?  If you care about any of these issues and how they are related, read on.  It is going to be a long post but I think you will find it well worth the effort!

First, let me explain why you should listen to me.  I have experience investigating and prosecuting major frauds, including ebay as they relate to organized crime and terrorism.  I've used this experience in investigations involving several MILLION dollars in fraud loss and was involved in the 9/11 investigations.  I have also bought and sold cars on ebay as an ebay member and have experience now with their buyer protection program.  I have no problem discussing privately what I do for a living, all I ask is that you not discuss it, my name or employer in a public forum that will come up on a google search.

Like it or not, ebay is here to stay. It is a wonderful tool for the consumer.  The same thing that makes it great for the consumer also makes it ripe for criminals to exploit you. It's a fact, ebay has been used by organized groups to include terrorist organizations to raise significant capital for their operations.  Large purchases, such as automobiles and boats have the biggest return.  The only way to stop this is to know what to look for.  The Delorean is coming of age for collectors.  There have been a market increase in muscle cars from the 60's and 70's as a result of the baby boomer generation being in a position to afford the cars they grew up with.  As more "children of the 80's" age and become more successful, they too will be in a financial position to buy the 5elorean they've wanted ince being children, and drive the price up. This will also be combined with an increase in demand being generated by companies such as DMCH who are marketing the vehicle to a more affluent demographic.  Bottom line is Deloreans will increase significantly in value in the future, making it a bigger target for fraud and more people will become desperate to find one in their price range, and may overlook signs of a fraud to get one.

Rule#1 is that if it looks too good to be true.....it probably is a rip off. Be wary of the zero feedback seller, obviously.  A high feedback score does not necessarily mean it isn't a scam.  With the advent of the phishing scheme, account take overs are common. To combat this, look at the seller's previous items bought and sold.  If the person has a long history of buying knitting supplies and suddenly is selling a delorean....WARNING.  Another sign of this is the vehicle not being located near where the ebay seller is listed as living.  I expressed interest in a vehicle.  When I contacted the seller, they knew little technical info about it, were claiming to now be in europe and said it was now with a shipping company, prepaid and ready to ship.  They included a link to a website for the "shipping" company that looked legit.  A google search of that shipping company revealed no such company. The people created a realistic websit complete with invoice number so you could look up the status of the vehicle.  I searched that website, which even had links for employment opportunities for drivers.  The rates that drivers were listed as beinf paid were not cnsistant with industry practice, another indication the shipping company website was part of an elaborate fraud.

My recommendation is don't sell a vehicle to any entity outside the US. If a buyer or seller has no command of the english language, this is also a warning sign. Look at any correspondance with the person and make sure they have an understanding of the written english language. Insist on getting a telephone number and talk to them! Getting a telephone number also gives you a way to track a person down in the future should it turn into a criminal investigation.  Talk to the person and get a feel for them.  Better yet, have someone you lknow who has experience dealing with interrogation and interviewing (any cop with a couple of years working the road) talk to the person.  You will be shocked to see what someone with experience in thisfield will find out.

Maintain a database on ebay cars to include photos for several months prior to bidding to see if the pictures turn up in some other auction.  This also gives you the benefit of seeing the true going rate for vehicle's in various conditions and areas.  If you see the same vehicle listed several times by the same seller in a few months period, that car may be ripe for an off ebay offer!

Look for an email from a person claiming to be the original seller of an item you bid on and lost.  My recommendation is to have contacted the seller by email AND by phone prior to purchase.  Hold on to that info for later.  A person may contact you stating that the deal fell through and they are offering it to you.  If the email address is different then the email address you previously corresponded with, or they offer a different phone number or no phone number, stay away.  Contact the original email address from the seller and the original winner (from your  database) to find out if the car really is still available.  If it is legit, ask both parties of the sale why it fell through and compare answers.

Use google and zabasearch to run any info about the other party and see if they live near where this vehicle is being sold.  

If you are defrauded, good luck getting help.  These investigations are complex and time consuming.  Law enforcement is so overwhelmed with these right now, unless you produce an actual suspect or can show an organized enterprise, you may be out of luck.

I'll send an additional post on ebay buyer protection later.

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