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In short, I was scammed by a buyer on eBay and after a Paypal dispute, claim and appeal, the buyer walked with my merchendise and my money.
Here's what happened. I sold a limited edition hat on eBay for about $100. The buyer opened a case through eBay to return the item. I reached out to the buyer multiple times asking what the issue with the hat was and never got a reply. Once a case is opened, eBay allows something like 7-10 business days for a buyer to return the item to the seller. A day before the case was about to expire, the case was closed in my favor. Thinking the buyer simply changed their mind about the hat, I looked a little deeper and found that the buyer was no longer a registered eBay member. Very shady indeed. Wait... it gets better.
I then went into Paypal to transfer the money to my bank account only to see the funds were frozen. The reason for the freeze was because the buyer opened a dispute against me stating that the item he received from me was the “wrong item/item not as described”. Once again, I tried communicating with the buyer, this time within Paypal’s communication system, asking them to provide some more information or photos of what they received so I could remedy the situation. Again, I didn't get a single reply from the buyer. After 3 messages to no avail I became increasingly suspicious so I called Paypal and told them about the situation. They had me escalate the dispute to a claim so they could take over and facilitate.
Paypal granted the buyer’s request to return and gave them my name and address to initiate the return. Again, there was a window of time that the buyer had to provide tracking information otherwise the case would close in my favor and my funds would be released to me. Like with eBay, on the last day before the case was to expire I got a notification from Paypal with the tracking number of the package given to them by the buyer. After tracking the for a few days I saw on USPS.com that the package was delivered to the doorstep/porch. I go check, no package. I call my local Post Office and ask them where the package is. I give them the tracking number and they tell me the reason I didn’t receive the package is because it was not addressed to me. The buyer addressed the package to the local Stop and Shop supermarket in my town.
I call Paypal and fill them in on the information I was given by the post office. Paypal asks me for documentation so they can verify the package was not delivered to me... So I hop back on the phone and the post office supervisor sends me 3 attachments. One of the attachments is an actual picture of the package, which was taken when the barcode is scanned before the package is dropped off and delivered. The photo clearly shows the tracking number, bar code and who it was addressed to. I send this information and Paypal tells me its insufficient evidence. “Photos can be altered” was what they told me… even when the photos were forward directly to them from a government employee. What a total load of garbage!
Paypal then says I need a letterhead from USPS stating that I didn’t receive the package. At this point, I’m seriously jumping through hoops to plead my case and verify I’m being scammed. The post office denies my request for a letterhead because as far as they’re concerned, they did their job. And they’re right; they delivered the package to exactly where it needed to go per the address written on the box. I legally have no claim to the package because the buyer never put my name on it so there's no more they're willing to do for me. Now I’m stuck in a no-win situation. Post office won’t help me any further and Paypal won’t release my funds without a letterhead. I even gave the supervisor of the Paypal dispute department the name, phone number and email address of my town's Post Office supervisor so they can reach out and get the information they needed themselves. Dispite the explanations I provided for why I was unable to produce the letterhead they required, the Paypal dispute supervisor just kept repeating over and over that they need the letterhead. Its as if everything I told them went in one ear and out the other! Next thing, Paypal goes and closes the case and refunds the buyer the money he paid for the hat.
You might be wondering, “What reason would the buyer have to send the package to your local Stop and Shop supermarket?” Well its simple. They never sent the hat back. The package they mailed back was most likely stuffed with tissue paper and nothing else. So now this person has my limited edition hat, the money they paid for it and all it cost them was a measly 3 dollars in return shipping costs.
My last resort was to file an appeal. After countless calls and hours and hours of retelling my story over and over where everyone understands but no one can help, I was told that the back office dispute team was going to investigate further. Three days later, they deny my appeal. Their determining factor was, get this, that USPS tracking shows it was delivered to my city and apparently that’s good enough for them. The USPS website does not show my name or my home address for delivery confirmation, only my city. Is that what you call an investigation??? What a total joke! One person I spoke to in the dispute department actually laughed at me while I was telling them about my frustrations regarding how this was being handled. I also caught the Paypal employee in a lie when I asked them if the USPS website shows the package was delivered to my house. He says, "USPS website shows it was delievered to your house, sir." I hopped on the USPS website and asked him to read me the line where he saw my name and address under the delivery confirmation and he had no answer. With that sort of so called professionalism its no wonder people get away with scams.
Paypal claims to research these cases in depth but they do not. They have protocols and I understand that. But they need to do a little more digging on cases like these. If they did they'd see that I have 100% positive feedback as both a buyer and seller on eBay and have been a member since 2004. They completely ignored all red flags about this buyer as well as all the information I provided them. They effectively sided with a con man all because I couldn't produce a USPS letterhead for a package I can't legally claim. There are loopholes in their system that scam artists are exploiting at the expense of hardworking, honest people and they refused to do anything about it. Nice huh?
Thanks for taking the time to read this. Unfortunately, I don’t know how this could’ve been avoided. What’s even worse is I don’t know how to prevent it from happening again. I just want you all to be in the know.
Wishing you all the best this holiday season!
This is a common scheme which has been going on for sometime.
Seller will ship an empty envelope to a business which is open from 9-5 pm in your zipcode,it could be drycleaner,restaurant,hospital,hair salon,as long as tracking shows it has been delivered to your zipcode,they are covered by ebay/paypal seller protection.
Buyer would do the same when returning your item,look up businesses in your zipcode and return an empty envelope.
since this is an Ebay item ,you can try calling Ebay and **bleep** about the outcome,Ebay may reimburse you,no guarantee.
I have a case recently for 13.95 plus shipping,I never receive the item back and eBAY refunded me and if he ever leaves neg feedback,Eaby will remove it.
But my amount is small,I dont know if Ebay would do the same for you,but you should report him t o Ebay,he will eventually be suspended from buying on EBay if he keeps doing this .
There are folks who resell,finding good merchandise to sell is not easy ,if they can scam,they get something free to resell,some folks make a living doing so.
They did the same thing to me. There should be a way to file criminal changes to ebay and paypal
I had a similar thing happen. I ordered a Ninja Foodi Grill from a site called vicomes.com which only accepted PayPal as it's payment method.
The seller (Le <removed>) provided a stolen tracking number.
PayPal didn't even bother to inquire if the tracking number was valid. I had to call UPS and they told me that he wasn't the shipper on the tracking number and I wasn't the recipient. The only thing that matched were the origin and destination zip codes. For privacy reasons they wouldn't disclose who the recipient was but they assured me that I wasn't the one named on the tracking number. The shipper listed on the tracking number was some company in the same zipcode as the seller but not him.
PayPal would not look into this any further and told me I needed some kind of formal letter from UPS stating the destination address attached to the tracking number which they would not provide for the privacy reason stated above . So PayPal ruled in favor of the scammer, who is most likely operating from Vietnam with a fake USA address.
Luckily I used my credit card as funding source and filed a charge back and explained the situation to them. They credited my account immediately and said that the credit will become permanent if Le <removed> neglects to respond with proof that the item was delivered to my exact address (which he cannot do) within 2 billing cycles.
If I hadn't used my credit card as a funding source I would be SOL.
PayPal is well aware of this common scam but has done nothing to address it. It appears that some bean counter upstairs has determined that the money they make from fraudulent transactions like this far exceeds the money they lose from credit card charge backs and that the cost of actually pursuing and shutting down these scammers isn't worth their time.
I will never use PayPal after this experience.