79 thoughts on “How Cybercrooks Put the Beatdown on My Beats

  1. The Phisher King

    High on the list of things that annoy me is that Ebay do not offer a way for a user to report fraudulent listings.
    I see them everytime I go on Ebay and they are obvious because the “buy now” price is a fraction of the true value of the item and the seller is always new to Ebay, with no history of sales.
    What I have discovered is that the fraudster copies images from a legitimate seller, so if I do a Google image search I can find the genuine seller, advise them of the fraud being perpetrated and they can report the listing as copying their images and so get it removed.

    1. neo_neo

      I agree about ebay frauds. They seem very common. I almost fell for one the first time, but sent the seller an email like “wow, what a great deal. Is the manufacturer discontinuing this model?”l When I didn’t hear back from them and 10+ more items had sold for 1/10th the normal cost, I was glad I hadn’t purchased and that I wouldn’t be dealing with a refund process via ebay.

      I did find that you can report this sort of thing, but is rather painful.

      Look for ‘report this item’ link at bottom right the section “more options for this product”.
      Click the “report this item” link
      ->File a Report
      ->(Report Category)->Listing Practices,
      -> (Reason for Report)-> Fraudulent Listing Practice,
      -> (Detailed Reason)-> You suspect that a listing is fraudulent.

      I’m assuming multiple people have to flag the fradulent listing and then ebay reviews the posting. I never had a follow up query from ebay about why I thought it was fraudulent.

  2. rd

    Good Article, Sad the deal turned out to be a Scam. Could you do a follow up on how they were able to fake the shipping Tracking information. Have you contacted the Shipping company to explain their part in this?

    1. Bob E

      I don’t know if they use Fedex or not, but most of the Fedex tracking number is for the company the package is shipped by. The last (6 I think) digits is a semi sequential number. If they had a US customer ship them something, they could use the tracking number they received, add a few to the number and then run it through Fedex tracking. Lather-rinse-repeat until they found an active number. Then start there for the next one.

  3. Steve

    What I hate about Amazon is that legitimate item pages can easily be hijacked by sellers offering counterfeits.

    I had also been looking at a name brand wireless speaker for a few days but I was on the fence about purchasing. The sellers ratings were high. At some point I noticed the price dropped significantly. Thinking there was some kind of sale, I pulled the trigger.

    What arrived was some knock off fake which looked liked the speaker I ordered but sounded terrible and had no name brand on it. Going back to Amazon, I realized that for the seller I purchased from with this exact same item listing, my seller was not the same as I had previously vetted and which currently listed. Somehow when I bought the speaker, a fake seller was temporarily listed on this legitimate offering.

    I am not sure how this happens, if Amazon displays the lowest selling price or what, but you really have to be diligent on Amazon to make sure the sellers aren’t fly by night hijacking a legitimate listing.

  4. Dustin

    This one almost got me when I was trying to buy a Google Pixel phone. I noticed the trade-in value ($300) was more than the phone was selling for ($208) so I thought better than to buy it.

  5. sja

    all world and goverments are criminals anyways.
    usa russia uk cia kgb fsb russian mafia and etc.
    bs all who cares this is all just tip of the iceberg.
    and krebs is part of this mafia. I have no hope
    for nothing everything corrupted !!!!!

    1. nihilist

      so do the world a favor and shoot yourself now.

  6. John


    Had something similar happen to me as buyer of a product on Amazon. It seems to be from third party resellers and not Amazon distributed products.

    To best of my knowledge this is what happened to me:

    1. Found item and clicked ship
    2. Receive tracking number – Note: From what i can tell once tracking number is updated in Amazon, seller can pull funds out of their account
    3. Tracking number for me showed delivery in different state. Not sure how attackers are getting valid UPS tracking numbers but they are using them.
    4. Tracking number shows delivery to wrong state.
    5. Opened dispute with seller, no response
    6. Open A-Z guarantee with Amazon.

    Things Learned:
    – Sellers seem to be registering in China
    – They use fake tracking numbers from China (fooling amazon) or US tracking numbers showing delivery to random locations
    – The scam works because once people buy and tracking number is uploaded, Seller can process payment from Amazon. In addition, scammers will also set a long delay in delivery time to make it harder for Amazon to claw back funds through A-Z process as Amazon makes you wait 3 days after expected delivery to initiate which gives them time to withdraw funds and move on.
    – I’ve been more diligent buying only from Amazon warehoused items and ignoring third party resellers as I’ve had this happen twice in last month.

  7. Brogrammer

    Good Stuff,

    A good thumb of rule is always look at the company information if it’s not being sold/shipped by amazon.

    Question: How often is there a new article on here? is there a specific time the article drops or is it at random.


  8. Trevor

    What frustrates me is Facebook is advertising scam and bogus online sellers without responsibility

  9. RobertC

    WRT to Amazon, if the seller is new and the seller’s item description asks you to send them an e-mail verifying the item is still in stock you most likely have a fraudulent seller. My first experience (new to Amazon) I sent the e-mail, got verification and executed purchase through Amazon. It took three days for refund by Amazon My second experience (amusingly today) I knew better than to send e-mail and just executed purchase through Amazon (if the item was delivered I would have accepted it but I doubted that would happen). I received confirmation immediately and then about 45 minutes later got a cancellation. Checked seller’s store and all items were unavailable. I don’t know if my purchase was the trigger or I just happened to be in the timeline. Anyway Amazon is taking measures to prevent this fraud and protect their customers. PS I knew the risk I was taking and was actively managing it.

    1. RobertC

      Continuing this Amazon story, this morning I added to my List but didn’t purchase an item from a seller matching the characteristics I described above. This afternoon I checked my List and status was unavailable plus the seller no longer existed. I checked more “can’t resist” items like those that tempted Brian and found a dismaying large quantity of fraudulent sellers (eg, one storefront with 20+ items ranging from exercise machines to gasoline generators all priced at $395). This increase is recent. I think Amazon is under some sort of attack.

  10. Blanche Dubois

    Am late to this post. Congrats on this story, Brian; a scoop in my view on a major digital commerce problem; very informative for all Consumers re. all Merchant type websites.

    Using Amazon as a discussion focus (as stated, there are many other large Merchant websites that have been hacked) there are some other points that need to be clarified for me to understand all the consequences.

    It would seem that upon being notified by the True Merchant that he has been hacked, and observing the evidence on their own website, Amazon would immediately claw back from the fake Merchant’s Credit Card (CC) account, all those CC charges that Amazon is able to retrieve (they’re within Amazon’s 3 day hold rule), and return them to the individual CC. Is that true?

    For those charges (most) that Amazon can’t claw back (they’re past Amazon’s 3 day release rule), the fraud loss comes about when Amazon asks the True Merchant to reimburse Amazon’s registered customer for the full retail amount the customer paid for the fake product, and to credit the customer’s CC. Is that true?

    It would seem that the fake Merchant can’t get his lucre via CC transfers, without the direct help of an Acquiring Bank, who registered the crook, the crook’s CC Processor, the crook’s commercial bank, and the crook’s checking account there, to receive the cash transfers. Is that true?

    Or no, Amazon immediately collects the CC funds when the consumer hits Amazon’s “Buy” button, and after 72 hours, transfers the released funds to the crook’s commercial bank’s checking account by irrevocable ACH transfer? Is this true?

    All this (Acquiring Bank, Processor, commercial bank and the crook’s checking account) is set up by the crook BEFORE he then attacks the True Merchant’s Amazon site. Is this true?

    The Brand (Visa, M/C) and the Acquiring Bank know the physical location and principals of the crook’s Processor, and the crook’s commercial bank. Is this true?

    Are there not severe civil penalties that the Brands can impose (after seeing evidence) on the crook’s Acquiring Bank, Processor (if they process other Visa/M/C charges), and his commercial bank (if they are an Issuer and/or use the Visa or M/C networks in any way), for gross failure to vet their customer or complicity?

    Agree the Consumer needs to do all he can to avoid aiding the fraud against the True Merchant, but doesn’t Amazon, the CC Brand, Acquiring Bank, crook’s Processor, crook’s commercial bank, have some accountability here as well?

    Am interested in your answers; suspect answers are not immediately available, but also suspect journalist Krebs can get answers before any Consumer can. And there are many future Krebs scoops here.

  11. Gordon Walker

    I have always been wary of sketchy looking deals. I usually avoid making any purchases on Amazon that are not fulfilled by Amazon, but after reading this article, I will definitely heed your advice on all future purchases. Another great scoop as always Brian.

  12. Ellen

    Thats really sad. One should always be aware of scammers internet is full of them

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