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September 14, 2005

New eBay Phish Ploy

I describe in Spam Wars how scam artists use the username and password ripped off from unsuspecting eBay users to further rip off other eBay users and gain access to private information.

EBay phishers do everything they can to trick you into giving up the username and password for your account. In addition to the usual "some mixup in your account" malarkey, I've also seen phony invitations into get PowerSeller status. A new (to me) variation on the theme came across today. The Subject of the message is "Want to buy your item," and here's the body of the message:


I am new to eBay, but i tried to buy this item from you with my Credit Card Visa and it show me an eror at your account. Please look at the link bellow with the eror. And reply me after you are able to sell on eBay.

[link removed for your protection]

Best regards,

Grace Loren.

This appeal is not as universal as others I've seen. It assumes that the recipient currently has something for sale on eBay, either through an auction or an eBay Store. I'd like to think that those who are active sellers on eBay would be cautious about an email message like this, but I know that a seller doesn't want to turn away a buyer. An experienced eBay seller would also (I hope) be suspicious of a message from a stranger addressed directly to the seller, rather than the message arriving through eBay's official messaging system.

The link that most email programs display in the message is an ebay.com address, but the hidden address in the link—where you really end up going when you click on the visible link—is to a hijacked server in Turkey. I've alerted the site's owner and ISP, but my report will arrive very late at night in Istanbul. Unless a night owl is reading email there, the site will have a 10- or 12-hour headstart—by which time most of the damage will have been done.

Don't let your guard down. Phishers and crooks will keep cooking up new scams as long as other recipients keep falling for them.

Posted on September 14, 2005 at 03:24 PM