Bill Smith, an investigator with the St. Louis Better Business Bureau looked into Kuzma's case. Kuzma first began questioning the transaction when the photo of the item directed him to a separate website. This site asked him to communicate with the seller directly by e-mail and to avoid eBay's "ask seller a question" feature, Smith told Consumer Ally.
Through this communication, Kuzma was asked to wire the money to a bank in California. Smith said Kuzma was promised that he would receive the equipment so he stayed home several days waiting for its delivery. When he contacted eBay, they said they did not offer any programs for wire transfers and according to Smith, it was at that point he realized he had been scammed.
"My sense is that this person who was selling this piece had probably sold it several times," Smith said. "It might not have even belonged to them."
Smith cited some red flags in this case that should alert consumers to Internet scams through sites like eBay or Craigslist.
- Items at the "Buy It Now" price should not be valued significantly less than similar items
- Beware of anyone who says they need to get rid of something or that they were just divorced and need the money quickly
- Buyers should not be asked to pay by wire transfer -- Smith said, "Once you wire money, it's like cash, it's very hard to get it back."
- If the listing directs the buyer to a separate website, call eBay and ask for confirmation that this site is affiliated and not fraudulent as in the case with Kuzma.