Coffs Harbour detectives in northern New South Wales have begun investigating reports of four incidents where eBay buyers in Australia had not received goods purchased on the online auction site after paying for them.
Police had been fielding reports of possible fraud from eBay users in the Coffs Harbour and Clarence areas since late November. Buyers said they had not received goods after payment had been made as arranged through the eBay website.
A detective senior sergeant on the Coffs Harbour investigation team said sellers appeared to have been offering bogus items for sale.
“The main offenders appear to be coming from overseas. They are making up bogus emails and directing victims to deposit money,” the sergeant said.
Similar fraud cases were relatively common in Australia. However, the recent cases appeared to involve sellers claiming France or Greece as their home base.
“This latest example appears to be well beyond Australian boundaries making prosecutions difficult to secure,” the sergeant said.
NSW’s Crime Command fraud squad said users of online auctions should check out the security guidelines posted on the websites involved and ensure they followed those guidelines to preserve any rights to refund they might have.
Users should also check any feedback about the seller involved. Websites such as eBay often provided a page where users could post messages about the seller of any particular item, such as whether delivery had been reliable, the fraud squad said.
“Consider using an escrow service for payments above around $400. An escrow service is an independent third party that holds the payment in trust until the items are delivered,” it said.
However, some escrow services were fake. Users should therefore beware of sellers who insisted on using one particular service, the fraud squad warned.
Credit card payments were another relatively secure method, it said.
“Be very cautious of high value goods that appear to have low prices and are hosted overseas. Be very sceptical of sellers insisting on non-traceable overseas money transfer arrangements,” the fraud squad said.