A country music lover who turned to the web to buy a Stagecoach camping pass wound up the victim of an online scam.
Kevin Cole had attended the Stagecoach Country Music Festival every year since the event began five years ago, and was looking forward to attending it again this year.
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He went on Craigslist to shop for a camping pass so that he, his wife and up to eight friends could camp on site during the three-day festival.
He found an ad that was asking for $700 for a Stagecoach camping pass.
"The face value was $500," Cole told NBC4. "So I responded to this ad and I said 'you know, if you don't happen to sell your pass, I'd be happy to give you $550 for it'."
The seller accepted.
Next, Kevin got an email. It said the sender was eBay and even had the company's logo. It directed him to wire the money via Western Union, which he did and eagerly awaited the camping pass. It never showed up.
Two weeks later, Kevin contacted the seller again. This time, the response said that the seller had gotten an offer of $950 so if Kevin wanted the pass, he would have to come up with another $400.
Kevin said he knew something was terribly wrong because he knew that once a price is accepted on eBay, the sale is final.
It turns out the site that looked like eBay was not the real deal.
"It's a fabricated site and a fraudulent site," said Vince Gottuso, president of the Better Business Bureau of Southern California.
Kevin got neither the camping pass nor his money back. Because he did not really make the purchase on eBay, he had none of the protections available to eBay customers.
This past weekend while his friend enjoyed the Stagecoach festivities, Kevin and his wife stayed home.
Both eBay and Craigslist said buyers should be extremely wary of any seller who asks for for cash to be wired.
More tips from eBay:
- To purchase an item on eBay, the item needs to be listed on eBay.com. Communication between buyers and sellers is facilitated through eBay.com. eBay transactions do not take place via personal emails between buyers and sellers.
- Only transactions that take place on eBay.com are covered by eBay’s Buyer Protection Program.
- My Messages within your eBay account is the definitive, legitimate source for any email that relates to your account. If you receive an email that purports to be from eBay, but it is not in My Messages, it's a fake email.
- Consumers should keep in mind that the "From" field of an email can easily be altered. It is not a reliable indicator of the true origin of the email.
More tips from Craigslist:
- Deal locally with folks you can meet in person- follow this one rule and avoid 99% of scam attempts on Craigslist.
- Fake cashier checks and money orders are common, and banks will cash them and then hold you responsile when the fake is discovered weeks later.
- Craigslist is not involved in any transaction, and does not handle payments, guarantee transactions, provide escrow services, or offer "buyer protection" or "seller certification"
- Never give out financial information (bank account number, social security number, eBay/PayPal info, etc.)
- Avoid deals involving shipping or escrow services and know that only a scammer will "guarantee" your transaction.