5 On Your Side

Johnston Man Contacts Five On Your Side About eBay Scam

Posted January 26, 2005 4:49 a.m. EST

— You have got to have a certain amount of trust when you buy something online. eBay has a number of safeguards, but that does not stop unscrupulous people from using information on the Web site to take advantage of users. A Four Oaks man found that out the hard way.

Bruce Krontz wanted a professional pizza oven. He had not shopped on eBay before, but thought it was worth a try. He ended up finding the oven he wanted.

"This thing was perfect. It was stainless steel," he said. "Boy, I'm thinking, 'This is alright.'"

Krontz's final bid was $2,700. He lost at the last minute by just $1, but then Krontz got an e-mail he thought was from the seller. It said the winner could not buy the oven, so now Krontz had a "second chance." It said Krontz would get an e-mail from eBay. Later, an e-mail did arrive.

"It said eBay. It had their logo and everything on it. That's who I sent it back to ask. They wrote me back and said everything is on the up and up," Krontz said.

Soon after, Krontz wired the $2,700 to the "seller" in Chicago.

"As soon as he got the money, there was no communication," he said.

Krontz called Five on Your Side, who found that the e-mails Krontz received were not from eBay. The scammer made it look like they were, even using the eBay logo. It appears the scammer got Krontz information from the bid list.

Now, Krontz is out $2,700. He wants to get the word out so that others will not be taken, and though he knows it is not likely, he would like the scammer caught.

"I want to find this guy and have him put in jail before he does it to someone else," Krontz said.

One of the frustrations Krontz had was in trying to contact the "real" eBay by phone. The company does not offer customer service by phone. A spokesman said with more than 135 million users, eBay believes its e-mail system is the "most efficient" way to handle requests.

The bottom line is no matter what you do online, be skeptical. Go to the actual Web site to verify information and never wire strangers money.