Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Ebay fraud and other problems

This being the time of year that we all go out and spend money, or perhaps sit in front of our computers and spend money, I thought I'd warn everyone about something that we bought on eBay a while back. Some of you have heard this story before, but I thought I'd repeat it here just in case.

But more about that later.

Something very weird happened while we were away. Someone hacked into my husband's eBay account and tried to sell something. Apparently something that a lot of people wanted, but eBay doesn't allow.

To be honest, I really don't know what the item was. There was no picture, and the description didn't mean anything to me. I don't know what all the excitement was about. But it got a lot of attention and a lot of emails and a lot of questions, and three warnings from eBay that the item was being removed from the list.

The item was apparently re-listed, and his account was closed.

Now, we didn't know any of this was going on. For one thing, it has been several months since either of us has bought or sold anything on eBay, so we probably wouldn't have been paying attention to it anyway. And the other thing was that when all this was going on we were out of town in an Internet challenged part of Oklahoma.

So we did not receive any of the warnings to follow the rules or else. He has tried to contact someone at eBay about the problem, but there doesn't seem to be any real people working at eBay. All attempts to contact them get automated responses that do not tell us what to do about the account being closed or how to stop someone else from using the account like that.

Now, the whole thing does not make any sense. Why would anyone hack into someone else's account to try to sell something? The hacker probably wouldn't get any money for the item, so what is the point? The whole things seems to have been an attempt to annoy my husband. But it won't do anything but annoy him a little bit, seeing that he doesn't sell stuff anymore and I'm trying not to buy stuff anymore. My husband has (had?) a really positive eBay rating, so it seems unlikely that anyone would have wanted to do this to get back at him, but even if they did, why didn't they notice he had all but stopped using the account?

Anyway, I think he's done all he can be expected to do about it for the moment. The problem will be fixed or it won't be.

So back to that other thing.

So right after the problem with my husband, I was really trying to discuss other things that we might have a reason to argue about in the future, so that maybe we wouldn't have problems with anything else. So I was trying to talk to him about money. I had just been to a fundraiser/auction, and as usual I did not actually buy anything. I did bid about twenty dollars on an autographed picture of Leonard Nimoy and Brent Spiner. Someone else got it for twenty-eight, and I thought maybe if I had kept bidding I could have gotten it for thirty or thirty-five, but I don't know that since the item was worth well over fifty and maybe even a hundred dollars. Now, I don't like to buy autographed pictures, and to me they just aren't worth as much as the ones that you get autographed in person. But I had gone to hear both of them speak at a convention when they were not doing autographs, and I don't have an autographed picture of Leonard and I don't have Brent's autograph at all. So the picture would have been worth thirty-five or possibly fifty dollars to me, but I stopped bidding at twenty.

I could just imagine after all the problems my husband and I were having, that I would come home and he would say "You spent fifty dollars on what?"

So I told him about it, and we were having this discussion about money in general and buying Star Trek stuff in particular. And I was wondering if he would have minded me spending fifty dollars and what he thought was a good limit on that sort of thing in the future. And he says something like he wouldn't have minded it, if I'd've had the fifty dollars. And he says something like we just don't have any money right now, but when we get some I can go spend a lot of it if there's something I really want.

So then he's looking on eBay, and he says if I really want an autographed picture of Leonard Nimoy that he'd try to get me one.

Now, he wasn't saying that he was going to buy me an autographed picture and that would solve all of our problems, but it was a nice gesture. So he found one that was just listed for a dollar, and we knew that of course we couldn't actually buy an autographed picture for a dollar, but we started bidding and I think we put a maximum of five dollars, and he said if I decided I really wanted the thing that I could bid more on it later.

So later, when the bid is almost over, the bid was like six dollars, so I bid a bit more money. But the computer was slow, and my bid did not go through and the other person got it for six dollars. Damn.

So I look and the same seller has other autographs of Star Trek actors, and I find a group photo of seven of the original series that was taken for one of the movies and was autographed by all of them except Nichelle Nichols. And I have gone to hear all of them speak except Nichelle, so this was a perfect picture for me. And I bid on it, and I win the bid with about three dollars, and with shipping and handling I get the thing for about ten dollars.

I can't believe my luck.

Then I'm looking a little closer at the description, and it says something like ACTUAL PHOTO. Anyway, it turns out that the autograph is part of the photo. Someone went to the convention, got the picture autographed, took a photo of that, and is selling the copies.

Well, sometimes it is the thought that counts.

Anyway, my husband bought me a present at the price we wanted to pay for it, even if it did turn out to be not quite what we wanted. But we had a good laugh about it, and I've decided this will probably work just as well for me. Except for DeForest Kelley (Dr. McCoy), I have other autographs of them elsewhere, and I might as well frame this picture and put the real autographs in a safer place.

Just thought with Christmas coming that I should warn people about the scam.

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