mad in pursuit journal

DISPATCHED FROM THE CROSSROADS, AT THE CORNER OF GREED AND MISTRUST

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Monday, 3.6.06: Lithuanian Scam?

Was I the target of an international scam? Who knows. What I know is this: I got a payment of $1557.60 to my PayPal (Ebay) account and I sent it back.

Saturday night I got all excited. An Ebay sale. Not just any old piece of $6 music but a 17th century anatomy book priced at $1500 -- the most expensive thing by far in my store. Not only had the sale been made, but the customer already paid the bill.

The buyer had sent an additional e-mail:

Hello,
As you see I made a payment. But im buying this book for my medicine lecture because he dont know how to use ebay system. I have added 30$ for shipping this book internationaly to Europe with USPS global express mail. So please ship it as soon as possible to:
Country: Lithuania
city: Vilnius
post code: 04220
street: xxx*
Phone number: xxx *
Name: xxx *
If there will be any questions contact me. I hope the book is in good cond.

Lithuania? My heart sank. Being asked to send an item to a third party address (especially deep in the heart of the old Soviet empire) is generally a yellow flag -- is the buyer using a stolen credit card?

I went to Ebay to check "Michael's" record: only 1 prior sale. Not good.

Went to Paypal: address "unverified" and in Texas, not Lithuania; Seller Protection Policy "ineligible." This means PayPal will not protect me against scams in this transaction because they have not been able to verify the person's address against a major credit card.

Checked the internet: Lithuania is one of those places, like Nigeria, whose name is blackened by rampant fraud.

My heart was thumping as I explained this to Jim. The last thing I wanted was someone contacting me about a $1550 charge to their credit card and demanding a refund -- while our book has disappeared into Eastern Europe.

I wrote my customer:

Thank you for your purchase. Because you are new to ebay and have provided PayPal with an unconfirmed address, I cannot send this item to Lithuania for you. Please go to PayPal and have your Texas address confirmed against a credit card. I will then send your book to your confirmed address in Texas. I will refund your payment for Global Express so that you can send the book to Lithuania yourself.

And I quoted paragraphs of PayPal policy.

Today he wrote back:

Well I cant because Im right now not in US with my studies and there will be noone to pick the book. Anyway if so please give me a refund.

In other words, nevermind.

I refunded the money in full. But the transaction still cost me $66 in Final Value Fees. I wrote him, again quoting policy (I'm such a little bureaucrat), to say he is still liable, since the purchase offer is a binding commitment.

Basically, this allows me to send him an official "reminder of non-payment" in 7 days, then petition Ebay to reimburse my fee and relist the book.

I think this will be okay. I'd like to find a way to have " Michael" investigated. Meanwhile, I believe I dodged a gigantic $1500 problem.

 

* deleted to avoid any further repercussions

...

 

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