eBay Scammer Says PC "Destroyed" In Mail, Takes $500, Sends Back "Destroyed" PC Minus Parts

By exploiting loopholes in their policies, scammers are using eBay, Paypal and UPS to rip unsuspecting sellers off, like reader Chad. The buyer reported the item as “destroyed” and demanded and got a refund from Paypal. When the buyer shipped it back to Chad and he opened it, he found there was nothing wrong with it – except that the scammer had removed the memory, processor and hard drive. Now Chad is out $500 and left with a shell of a computer, and since the item was “received” Paypal won’t do anything. His sad tale, inside…

I work in IT and always end up with several computers at any time. About a month ago, I listed a slightly used desktop computer on Ebay. I received the standard “Let me pay $1000 for it off of Ebay” scam requests, but I let the auction end for about $500. The buyer paid immediately via Paypal and the computer was shipped out the next day via UPS. I shipped the item using my UPS account number and insured the item for $500.

Four days later, the item was received by the buyer. Literally within minutes of the item being received, negative feedback was left on Ebay and a Paypal dispute was filed seeking a full refund. No explanation was given. I finally received an explanation that the computer was “destroyed” in shipping and that the item was not as described. I asked the buyer to take pictures of the damage and he refused, stating that he was sending the item back and wanted a full refund. I then asked him for a number where I could have UPS contact him to inspect the package. The item was insured and if it were damaged in shipping, I would refund him and take it up with UPS. He would not respond.

The next day, Paypal instructed him to ship the computer back and he provided a tracking number. He would not allow UPS to inspect. Well, about a week later, I received the computer back. UPS had already told me that since he had shipped the item back without allowing an inspection, that it was ineligible for an insurance claim. I opened the box expecting the worst, and the computer was in the same condition that I sent it! The only thing I could tell that was wrong was one of the USB cables was slightly bent. Obviously I am confused.

So, I unpack the computer, hook it up to an existing monitor and it will not boot. I open the case and the memory, processor and hard drive are missing. The buyer took 6 GB of memory, a quad core processor and the hard drive out before shipping it back. Obviously, the buyer will not respond to e-mail, and since the item has been “received,” Paypal considers the case closed. Any advice on how I can try to take care of this – I’m out about $500 – far more than I could sell what practically is a barebones setup with a DVD burner.

We’ve got a ton of emails and phone numbers for people at eBay/Paypal here you could try. Curious – how could have Chad protected himself from this? And then, how can any average user protect themselves from the dread synergy of hard-and-fast policies with zero customer service?

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(Photo: decaf)