Rubbish eBay scam

A mobile phone for sale

So I'm selling a mobile phone on behalf of a work colleague who doesn't have an eBay account...

A search for the model of the phone shows previous auctions have sold for around £165 so I'm hoping I can get at least £150 for it. To generate some interest I start the bidding at £75 with no reserve, since reserves are Evil ... but that's a whole different subject.

The auction is posted

Barely a few hours after the auction went live someone came in with a starting bid. Good stuff! We're already making money...

Bidding was slow, as it tends to be, and the phone had been bid up to £92 with twenty-four hours to go.

Activity picked up, again as it tends to do, as the clock ticked down. The bidding reached £155 with just over an hour left, as I went to lunch. In fact a combination of a nice lunch and being collared by my boss to talk about some work that was ongoing meant that I completely forgot to check the auction until well after it had finished.

Sold! To the lady skulking in the shadows...

Imagine my surprise when I saw the phone had sold for £259!

Let's see who the lucky winner was, shall we? The automated email from eBay, which sadly wasn't part of a limerick, revealed that Mrs "Sharon Lawson" is a resident of the fine city of Atawa in Canada.

So she can't spell Ottawa. No big deal. It isn't like being able to spell your own address is particularly important, and let's face it she was probably in a hurry getting her account registered in time to win the auction. Account registration date: yesterday. Feedback: 0.

Hello seller!

Just a few minutes later I received an email from Mrs Lawson.

From: sharon lawson <>
Subject: pls get back for payment

hello seller,
  i am the winner of your item, i want this item shipped to my husband who 
went for an official assignment in west africa NIGERIA. SO I WANT YOU TO SEND 
THIS ITEM AS soon as you receivw this mail and payment receipt from paypal so 
go and ship if the document as been send to your mail.

Hello buyer! Ship your expensive mobile phone to your husband in Nigeria you say? Not Canada ... where you live? And not the UK ... where I am ... and where the auction is? Well I'd be delighted to do so. Just as soon as you send me the £259 you owe for it!

A veritable bidding war

Talking of £259, that's quite a lot of money isn't it? Especially for a phone which you could have bought for half that price in one of any number of auctions. And as anyone who's ever bid on eBay well knows,

eBay automatically bids on your behalf up to your maximum bid.

Which means that someone else must have been prepared to pay over £250 to force the price up so high! Who could that be?

The second highest bidder was Mr Benny Blare. A private member, which means his feedback ratings aren't available for public scrutiny. That's a shame! We can't see how many legitimate auctions he has completed with other reliable and upstanding eBayers. I bet an honest individual like Mr Benny Blare must have entered into dozens of successful online transactions since he registered his eBay account ... erm ... today.


Just over an hour later, Mrs Lawson managed to log on to her Pay Pal account in ... where was it? oh yes ... Canada and send me the money she owed.

From: "" <>
Subject:  payment has been made by sharonlawson

Dear Reliable Customer,

This is to inform you that Mrs SHARON LAWSON has paid full payment
regarding the item she purchased from you on the ebay, so we want you to
go and ship out the item with immediate effect and get back to us and the
buyer the tracking details.

Thank you for using paypal.

Dear Reliable Electron Transaction Provider, Thank you for confirming receipt of full payment for the item Mrs SHARON LAWSON purchased from your parent company, the ebay. I will indeed go and ship out the item with immediate effect.

And then moments later, another email from ... erm ... Canada, inexplicably sent from an IP address that belongs to a Nigerian ISP.

From: sharon lawson <>
Subject: You Won eBay Item: Samsung E900 black no reserve (300021284041)

hello seller,
  this ia to inform you that i have made the sum of 319gpb for your item. and 
i want this item shipped as early as possible via international data post 
available at the post office. i have paid the sum of 60gpb for the shipping, 
so i want you to go and ship out the item immediately you see this mail and get 
back with the tracking details.

Mrs Lawson must really be desperate to keep in contact with her husband on official business in Nigeria! She's paid an extra sixty Great Pounds Britain to ship the phone via International Datapost ... from the Post Office.

She could have asked for FedEx for that much but I suppose they haven't heard of FedEx in Canada...

A happy ending

At time of writing the phone in question is on its way out of the UK.

Not to Mrs Sharon Lawson, whose eBay account is about to get closed, but to a reputable eBayer with a history of positive feedback. The third highest bidder in the auction, he agreed to meet the terms of his bid and transferred £198 to me via (the real) Pay Pal immediately after completing the sale.

He gets his phone, my colleague gets her money and I got a giggle out of a pathetic attempt at a scam.