Internet can be a guiding light or a black hole.
TRUST ANYONE YOU MEET ON THE INTERNET WHEN MONEY IS INVOLVED
Never, never purchase anything on an Internet auction without using a
reliable escrow company. Would you give a large amount of cash to
a stranger who came to your door selling a product that he promised to
bring by within a few days? Would you give a stranger a valuable
item at your garage sale on the promise that a check would be brought to
you the next day? Then why would you mail perfect strangers money
and products to locations that often turn out to be private post offices
and expect the person to honor your agreement? Times have
changed. It is the rare person whose word is his bond.
Protect yourself by using a third party escrow company to buy or sell
anything on the Internet. If you have been scammed already, report
the theft to the authorities below.
If you received a counterfeit
money order or check to pay for an item you were selling, go to
Counterfeit Check Page for help. If you
deposited a counterfeit check into your bank account, you will
be liable for any money you withdrew against the check. In
some cases, victims have even been charged criminally.
or selling on an auction site or through an online community? Then you better read
scam warning on Craig's List.
sites know how difficult it is to identify and prosecute
scammers. You better know, too.
Goes to Romania to Fight Fraud -
The Private Sector Steps In to Help Law Enforcement
Fight Fraud -
Auction Crime Tops List of Cybercrimes - 11/17/06
According to Wired Magazine's 7/06 issue,
auction fraud was the most reported of all online fraud in 2005.
Excerpt from: Stopping
Researchers' software searches
for suspicious patterns.
By Joe Mandak
- Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University
are relying on an adage to develop antifraud software
for Internet auction sites: It's not what you know, it's
who you know.
sites like eBay, users warn one another if they have a
bad experience with a seller by rating their
transactions. But the CMU researchers said savvy
fraudsters got around that by conducting transactions
with friends or even themselves, using alternative user
names, to give themselves high satisfaction ratings - so
unsuspecting customers will still try to buy from them.
CMU software looks for patterns of users who have
repeated dealings with one another, and alerts other
users that there is a higher probability of having a
fraudulent transaction with them.
a lot of commonsense solutions out there, like being
more careful about how you screen the sellers,"
said Duen Horng "Polo" Chau, the research
associate who developed the software with computer
science professor Christos Faloutsos and two other
students. "But because I'm an engineering student,
I wanted to come up with a systematic approach" to
identify those likely to commit fraud.
researchers analyzed about one million transactions
involving 66,000 eBay users to develop graphs - known in
statistical circles as bipartite cores - that identify
users interacting with unusual frequency. They plan to
publish a paper on their findings early next year and,
perhaps, market their software to eBay or otherwise make
it available to people who shop online.
fraud - when a seller does not deliver goods or sells a
defective product - accounted for 12 percent of the
431,000 computer-fraud complaints received last year by
Consumer Sentinel, the Federal Trade Commission's
consumer-fraud and identity-theft database. Auction
fraud was the most commonly reported computer-related
fraud in the database.
the scams run the gamut:
year (2005), a federal grand jury indicted an Ohio man
on charges that he sold hundreds of thousands of dollars
of stolen Lego merchandise on the Internet.
this year (2006), a New Mexico woman was sentenced to
nine years in federal prison for selling forged hunting
licenses on eBay, over the phone, and by e-mail, and
then not delivering trips paid for by out-of-state
December 2006, a man who failed to deliver tickets for
the 2005 Ohio State-Michigan football game to 250 online
auction customers was sentenced to 34 months in federal
why you should always file a criminal report for Internet
Convicted of Fraud Totaling $255,000 For Selling Phony Superbowl
Tickets on e-Bay
Cost of One Man's Fraud for Selling Phony Superbowl Tickets on
eBay - 5/7/06
Residents Become Victims of Computer Fraud - California -
Dealer Sentenced to Five Years for Defrauding Buyers on eBay
Charged in International e-Bay Fraud Scheme that Cost 2000
Victims Over $5 Million - 12/12/06
AN EBAY FRAUD TO EBAY SECURITY
ebay Security Center
REPORT A FRAUDULENT E-MAIL TO PAYPAL
A BUSINESS TO CONSUMER AGENCIES
Better Business Bureau
World - Links to government agencies that handle consumer complaints
Rip Off Report
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU REPORT AN INTERNET FRAUD
All federal agencies, including the FBI,
U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the FTC have minimum financial thresholds
that must be met before they will investigate a fraud or theft.
The dollar amount varies but is usually well above $50,000 and recent
information is putting it in the six-figure range. This
does not mean that an agency will not investigate your fraud but it does
mean that you should expect some resistance if your losses are below
Always report your theft to your local police department, even if you
are filing a federal complaint. If your police department tells
you that you should report the theft not to them but to the jurisdiction
where the thief lives, then do it. Protocols are different in each
will help you identify and locate the thief if you do not have
this information The burgeoning fraud created by the ease of Internet
commerce has overwhelmed local law enforcement and many agencies do not
have the resources to handle the complaints - but do it anyway.
It is important that you register your
complaint so that the thief will be put into the system.
Eventually, if enough victims file charges against the same
person or business, an investigation is more likely to be
initiated. AND you want to make sure your crime is added
to the growing fraud statistics tally as this what will
eventually prod legislators to increase the funding for law
YOUR MONEY BACK
you lose money through an Internet scam, the chances of getting
your money back are akin to getting your television back after
an unknown burglar steals it from your home while you are away
on vacation. It happens only in the rarest of
circumstances. However, you do have some options if the
person lives in the U.S.
First, you can pursue
criminal charges through the proper agency, and if this happens
and the thief is convicted, you can ask for restitution as part
of the sentencing. Depending on the state and county, the
thief may remain on probation until the money is repaid.
Second, you can sue the person in
court in order to obtain a civil judgment. This judgment
will allow you to have the thief's personal property seized, his
bank account levied and his paycheck garnisheed. This is a
very good option if the thief is employed and has assets.
Unfortunately, the majority of the people who scam do not have
stable employment or assets.
However, it you obtain a judgment
against someone, you can hand it over to a judgment recovery
specialist, which is a collector who goes after judgment
debtors. This person will have a financial motivation to
find your money, and the fee you pay, which is generally 30% to
50% of the money collected, may be worth it. 50% of
something is better than 100% of nothing. AND you will
have obtained justice because the thief will have had to give
back the stolen money.
DOE LAWSUITS CAN HELP IDENTIFY UNKNOWN FRAUDSTERS
If you do not know the true identity of
the person who defrauded you, you may be able to file a civil
suit in your county using a John
Doe for the defendant's name. You would need to provide
all the e-mails, letters, wire transfers, etc. that show you do
not know the identity or location of the defendant but that you
have a clear basis for your civil claims.
Your purpose is
not to file for a judgment initially but to obtain a subpoena
for the ISP and e-mail providers of the unknown fraudster in
order to obtain the person's name and address so that you can
file a civil suit. It is also possible to subpoena eBay
and PayPal for information they have on the person's true
identity if the fraudster used their services in the fraudulent
transaction. This is the legal process used to obtain the
identities of the unknown defendants in the music download
trials and by large corporations such as Microsoft to sue Web
site owners for
You may be told by your county court to file
the suit in federal district court if the fraudster is located
in another state. This is the court in which Microsoft and
other corporations have had to file. The fee for filing is
Here are some links to information on John
Once you obtain a monetary judgment, however, you should
know that it is only valid in the county and/or
state where it was issued. In order for it to be
recognized in another county and/or state, it must be filed as a
foreign judgment. Often this means the case must be heard
by a judge in the county where it is being filed as a foreign
judgment. If it was a default judgment, the chances are
even better that the count will not rubber stamp it without
hearing the case.
To see an overview of what is available
to a plaintiff in a small claims court suit, go to CUFF's Get
Even Legally Page.
WHAT TO DO WHEN LAW ENFORCEMENT WON'T
If you were scammed in an
complaint with eBay, then go to the feedback section on buyers and
sellers and review all feedback on your thief. Send a message to
all consumers who had negative comments and ask if they encountered
problems with this person that could be added to yours. If you are
able to collect three or four other victims and you collectively report
the fraud to the jurisdiction where the thief lives, you will increase
the chances of the police investigating your charges.
If you think it is time for Congress to provide an
easy, centralized method for reporting Internet fraud and that
extraordinarily high minimum thresholds should not be set for interstate
fraud investigation, then please send the CUFF
letter to your congressman and senators: CUFF
Letter to Congress regarding Internet Fraud
has revealed that it takes only five e-mails to a congressman or senator
to elicit an interest in an issue. This is the old cockroach
theory - you see one and you know there are hundreds of others somewhere
out there. Let your legislators know you are out here.
If you need assistance in identifying and locating the person who
defrauded you, CUFF will provide the research for
$59.00. Complete the Fraud
Report order form. It is possible that the person who
defrauded you has also defrauded others in a similar scam. By
providing law enforcement with the fraudster's identity and
location, it will simplify the case for law enforcement and
encourage them to act quicker than they might otherwise. You
should be aware, however, that if you were defrauded by someone
living outside the U.S., the chances are very slim that federal law
enforcement agencies will investigate unless the losses meet the minimum
Because drug-related and violent crime are
consuming most of law enforcement's resources, fraud is being
pushed to the back of the line. If that's where they put
your case, don't give up. You should still file a police report
and report the crime to the federal agencies noted above, even
if your case is not investigated. Fraud is the most
under-reported of all crimes because the victims feel
embarrassment for their "willing" participation.
This is one of the reasons that it is not investigated with the
kind of vigor that would eventually make a difference. You
should report your crime even if it is only added to the crime
statistics. Eventually, legislators and law enforcement
will recognize that it is has reached an epidemic level and will
begin to take it seriously.
CUFF researches a case, if we uncover an outstanding warrant for the
will publish the information for free in the CUFF
Fugitive Database so
others can help with the search. If
you already know that the person has an outstanding
warrant or criminal history, you
the person to the CUFF Fugitive Database
for free. This database is not
searchable on the Internet until CUFF verifies the warrant and
your personal information will not be given to anyone unless you
authorize it. When it is published, anyone can search the
database for free using 48 different search criteria, including
the subject's physical description, aliases, background
information and keywords.
If our research uncovers
a criminal history or recorded civil judgments, we will publish this
information in the CUFF
Fugitive Database also.
can also submit the person to the
which is a
proprietary database that is not searchable on the Internet but
is used by CUFF to match names and MO's of swindlers in order to
provide information to law enforcement. CUFF matches each submission with con artists
already in the database to see if the person has been entered
already. If so, we will send you the e-mail address of the other victim(s)
and allow you to discuss your frauds, if you choose. If
information is produced which substantiates a pattern of fraud, CUFF
will provide a free background search on the con artist and begin an
investigation to determine whether or not there might be evidence to
convince law enforcement to charge the person with fraud.
If you don't believe the criminal justice system is equipped to
handle the growing epidemic of fraud, join
America's fastest growing grassroots anti-fraud movement that is
working to change the laws and social attitude which have
contributed to the laxity in prosecution.
Review the links and information
above and if you feel you still need
additional help or have questions, contact CUFF in the Contact
form. Do not e-mail us as we
may not open an e-mail if we do not recognize the sender.