I fell victim to a scam

I purchased a piece of audio equipment from an Audiogoner with 0 feedback. The Paypal account was unverified as well. I thought, "I was a newbie once, everyone has to start someplace". I've performed dozens of internet transactions and have never been burned, until now.

I received a tracking number "billing information received"... But no product was ever shipped. I was burned out of a decent amount of cash. I won't starve, but I'm pissed. Paypal was useless in helping. They basically told me that Paypal protects Paypal. Audiogon does not disclose account information either.

I have started a police investigation, and they have obtained a search warrant to get the address and bank records of the seller. I'm not holding my breath to catch him though.

If he (or she) is an amateur, then the bank records may lead me to him. If he is a pro, then I guess there is a way to launder the cash.

I mean, Paypal either wires the money to his bank, or cuts him a check. Is there a way to track this? Any Lawyers out there want to chime in?

Part of me is tempted to spend the money to find this person (or people) and prosecute. Am I spinning my wheels?

As I search through other Audiogon adds, I see other suspicious deals. Zero feedback, too good to be true deals. Obviously, I'll do my homework next time...
post any information about this person you can so no one else gets scammed. otherwise, audiogon will become another ebay. best of luck.
Did you fund it through a cc? If so, then do a "charge-back" through your cc company.
Sorry to hear of your misfortune ... I really like this site for the Non-ebay atmosphere. I hope the bas##$ds are caught and prosecuted.

Looks to me like you might call Visa and explain that you made payment and never received your goods. In a way ... your Visa account was jeopardized. There are some card issuers that go above and beyond this "Zero Liability" to cover ALL on-line purchases. If you do get ripped ... check around and find a card issuer that will cover ALL on-line transactions and setup an account that you can tie to Paypal. Maybe your card issuing bank has this kind of protection already.

I checked VISA's policy on-line and picked this out ...


Zero Liability has you covered

* Worry-free shopping
* Ultimate security
* Complete fraud protection

Owe nothing on fraudulent transactions

Visa’s Zero Liability policy means 100 percent protection for you. Visa’s enhanced policy guarantees maximum protection against fraud. You now have complete liability protection for all of your card transactions that take place on the Visa system. Should someone steal your card number while you’re shopping, online or off, you pay nothing for their fraudulent activity.

If you notice fraudulent activity on your card, promptly contact your financial institution to report it. It is important to continually monitor your monthly statement to identify any unauthorized transactions.**

Visa’s Zero Liability policy took effect April 4, 2000, and is a great improvement on the previous policy. The former policy required that you report fraudulent activity within two business days of discovery. After this two-day period, you could be held responsible for up to $50 of the unauthorized charges. With the new Zero Liability policy, you’re no longer required to report fraudulent activity within two days and you’re not responsible for any fraudulent transactions made over the Visa network.

The Zero Liability policy covers all Visa credit and debit card transactions processed over the Visa network—online or off. The only transactions not covered under the Zero Liability policy are commercial card, ATM, and non-Visa-branded PIN transactions.

For transactions on other networks, the liability decision is left to the financial institution that issued your card. The issuer has the option of extending the same protections afforded by Visa's Zero Liability policy.

Good luck man,

I agree with Stvncar, post the user id, and all details about how he works his scams to help all of avoid him at all costs.


God bless...
I kind of fell victim to the same type of thing. I had someone go look at a high end TV Loewe Articos 55 inch DLP that I was selling. I had bought this from a dealer who still had it at his store. I told this guy he could look at it there and if he liked he said he had a cashiers check and would drop it in the mail there. Somehow he got out the door without putting the supposed check in the mail, then the check got returned to him, and now he has disappeared. It has prompted me to start my own website with very strict membership criteria based on identity and address. I too am contemplating spending the money just on principal alone.
Can we do a class action to Paypal??or Ebay?? any Lawyer??
Sorry to hear of your problem. I had one similar problem, I received the item damaged, not in as stated condition. Paypal was of no help whatsoever. AudiogoN helped a little, but thank goodness I used a credit card on that purchase. The credit card bank saved the day. They took the charge off of my card and had me send the defective unit (which the seller refused to take back) to Paypal. That left me and the CC bank out of the loop. The problem was then between Paypal and the seller.

If I had not used a CC, I would have been screwed out of some big $$$.

It's a jungle out there, and one does need to walk carefully. I will now only use cash on large purchases that do not require shipping. I'll drive 100 miles or more to go check out/pick up. If it's big money and further away, I use a credit card. It's your only protection.

I've been burned before too...I sent money for a Revel B-15 that never showed up and I never heard from the guy again. Its unfortunate that people will take advantage of us and Audiogon.

Yes,I am sorry to hear of this conduct also.I hate Paypal as it is now.Glad to hear of Jmcgrogan2's experience using a CC though,interesting how the bank had you ship unit to PP.....yes,its a jungle alright..always makes me glad to see familiar posts by members here though I have never met them.....and I hope you get some satisfaction eventually on that deal....Bob
Good advice, John. Thank you!
Commonly, we are victims of our own greed. If a deal is too good to be true from someone with zero feed-back and they want untraceable money-order (or, even paypal), stay away! Or at least insist on COD. It is just common sense.
That's a bummer. I looked at using an escrow account, it's expensive but may be worth peace of mind. I also like to talk on the phone with the buyer, verify their address, and verify the origin of the gear with the dealer and or manufacturer. I got screwed big time on a used car once so I am naturally a paranoid android.

I'd go after him until you think that the probability of success outweighs the effort, sounds like you will soon find out a lot more.
0 Feedback on the Audiogon resume = no deal for me. No matter how enticing, unless they are willing to send me the item, first, and wait on me for the $$.
I got burned once on PP, but strangely so, and not through A'gon. Small amount of cash, but goods never sent, no contact from seller. I initiated a PP dispute and eventually they took money out of his account and put it back in mine--I only got back about 75%, but counted myself lucky. To this day I have no idea why he didn't empty his bank account before the dispute deadline was over. So, not only was I cheated, I was cheated by an moron.
Why did you not leave negative feedback for that seller?

PayPal will not help if you actually receive goods. If the seller misrepresented or if something is broken they are of no help. HOWEVER, if you receive nothing, they WILL help (at least in my experiewnce and of others I've spoken with).
paypal is worthless, I never rec'd an item from a verified member and paypal even ruled in my favor!! did I get my money back? no. I did get his acct blacklisted on ebay though.

I always make sure that the person i'm buying from has good feedback. If I'm unsure, I will make arrangements to go pick it up or go see it, even if I can't make it. I figure if they're willing to let me see it, they at least have it in their posession to sell.
Paypal got me a full refund on the unit and shipping from a bogus ebay sellor (not audio gear). They work if you follow the system to a "T".
Thanks for your responses so far. To answer a couple of your questions:

This scammer has already canceled his account on Audiogon.

I paid with cash through my Paypal checking account. I'll know better next time...
I have never been burned on Audiogon, but I have purchased a few used items that were as described by the previous owner, but crapped out a few months after purchase. The repair costs were high enough that had I purchased the unit new and had it repaired for free with a warranty, it would have been less that the amount I paid used plus the repair cost. However, I don't think there was anything malicious on the seller's part. It just turned out that way. I have been burned twice on Ebay and Amazon in the last 4 months.
It's extremely satisfying to track down a crook and put him behind bars. With much good luck, I found the guy who stole my car in 1978. I saw him attempting to steal another car, and ran several blocks to alert two policemen who were directing traffic for a Saturday matinee concert. The guy went to jail. And I even got my car back. I hope you track down that SOB.
I was a victim to a DEALER! They do business both here and on ebay and have negative feedbacks on both sites. They only take check, no credit card! I thought they were a dealer and what could go wrong? I was dead wrong.

I had to sue them, but the court there was so messed up they dismissed my California judgment for no good reason. I felt like I should sue that state for discrimination.

I think Audiogon should start their own Paypal service to protect the active members on this site.
COD?? That's not idiot proof either. Read on..

Years ago, I sold a NOS rear window for a Plymouth SuperBird to a guy in Texas. The item comes back as "NOT ACCEPTED".
It was opened and the NOS window exchanged with a used scratched one!! All UPS would do is get me a cheap reproduction, worth about 1/3rd the price of the NOS piece.

So I got burned on a COD. Apparently, the UPS guy was in on it.
I always inquire of zero feedback members if they will send me the goods and then I send them the payment. The rationale I use is that I have feedback and a reputation they can check but they do not.

I have done this successfully on two occasions.
I would assume that PayPal uses an ACH (Automated Clearing House) transaction. I do not know thier overall policy but ACH transactions can be reversed. I would contact PayPal and see if they are willing to reverse the transaction and the I would also contact your bank. I would tell your bank that the debit to your account was not authorized and ask them to return the debit. That will probably get you in some hot water with PayPal but it may help them to resolve the problem also. ACH transactions are bank to bank transactions where PayPal initiates a file that containes both the debit and credit to each bank account. The funds are not verified as good funds in the senders account unlike a Fed wire transaction.

Hope this helps.
I dont know if you guys have ever read Slashdot but they posted a thread where an Ebay theif tried to ripoff a PC geek (I use that term because I am one) with an elaborate scam the geek saw right through it and posted to Slahdot.

The crook had setup a fake escrow service so he could receive the goods and never make payment. The geek was selling an Apple Powerbook. In the next week he had literally thousands of geeks all over the world helping him out. He sent the guy a modified box ... then he had hackers with cameras acrross the street in England where the package was delivered ready to shoot pictures of the guy getting his $300 empty box filled with rocks or something - I cant remember.

He really screwed the guy - by claiming the boxes value at $2500 and he had to pay customes to get it ... everyday we watched for more posts. It was so great - never did get a picture of the guy and the address the box was delivered to was an Internet cafe.

I will try to find it ... I think we all could use a laugh.

STOP PAYMENT-I agree with bigkidz. Your bank will do whatever you like....I know one "scammer" who burned big by a guy who scammed him by stopping payment on a money order!
Also, there are escrow services IESCROW.com and more.
I personally, will check out any sellors. I google them for name, address and home phone and make sure it matches. I will even call their home phone and play dumb asking for them even if they have given another number.
That is why I always give my name, phone, address and more everytime I close a deal just to prove that I am for real.
Paypal is owned by E-bay. E-bay only cares about the seller. That is why you can have hundreds of negative feedbacks as a seller and remain a member of ebay but if you're a buyer screwing a seller you are booted on the 3rd infraction. This is because ebay only cares about the fees involved which are payed by sellers not buyers. Paypal is fairly useless in helping you they try to stall you long enough to make your claim invalid (30 days?) . The only way to protect yourself is to use a credit card and dispute the charges if you pay and get nothing in return. I have never gotten beat on ebay save for a broken item and the lady made good on it. Paypal with credit card is the safest way to go.
I have to admit that I sell on AudioGon, but I have never purchased from individual sellers, rather only from AudioGon-listing retailers (eg, Quest for Sound, Audio-Video Logic, AudioWaves, Sophia Electric, and many others). My very real worry is exactly what you suffered ... a loss of funds and happiness at the hands of losers with very little else to contribute to the world. I always point buyers to my business-generated web site, so they can at least see what I look like, verify that I indeed exist, contact me through my work e-mail, and hopefully feel less anxious about everything. Even this proves nothing ultimately, but I round it out with a very accurate component description, a very fair price, packaging that goes beyond extreme, an immediate notification of tracking numbers, and whatever else it takes. My goal as I do this is to sell something worth buying. Going too far, I suspect, but I've been really shocked by how indifferent some of the purchasers AND retailers have been. Most purchasers get back to me to offer thanks, though most don't even make contact once delivery takes place; that's okay. I do NOT like, however, retailers that are nothing short of cavalier when it comes to service and customer concerns, especially after a sale. This part has been a bit disappointing, to put it mildly, but this is USA2005, so I don't expect too much.
Good news for me! As I mentioned, my first reaction was to go to the Police. However, I just spoke with my bank. They had me come in and fill out an "Affidavit for Unauthorized Access of my Account" form. My bank reimbursed me my full amount and they will now pursue getting the money from the sellers bank. I lost a lot of sleep over this one, but I lucked out in the end. Thanks for all of your input to my situation!
Glad yo hear you didnt get screwed Ianman!
Sweet! Once again the bank saves the day. That is great news The lanman!

seller with zero feedback should agree to send the item to the buyer(assuming buyer with plenty of feedback) first before receving payment..if a seller not willing to do that then i would rather pass the sales.