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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:
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:
And I quoted paragraphs of PayPal policy.
Today he wrote back:
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