BBB wants consumers to be aware and on the lookout for a scam company trying to take advantage of buyers by using a reputable national company’s name. eBay Buyer Protection Assistance, aka EBPA, has been falsely selling cars and boats online, hoping to confuse consumers with the real eBay and take their money. BBB wants consumers to be aware that eBay, Inc. is an Accredited Business with BBB of Los Angeles & Silicon Valley.
BBB worked with state and local government and law enforcement agencies for over a year to provide information that consumers reported through BBB Scam Tracker, and discovered victims in Ohio, Florida, Texas and Illinois with losses totaling $56,000. In June of 2016, arrests were made in South Carolina when Michael Sean Henson tried to retrieve funds from an account with the initials EBPA, was questioned, and his most recent buyer was contacted and indicated that he was attempting to purchase a bass boat from someone in the military in Montana.
BBB learned about eBay Buyer Protection Assistance, or EBPA, when a consumer filed a complaint stating that her money was taken after she was shopping online for a vehicle. She found a listing for a car on autoexplosion.com, and shortly after was contacted by a “member” of EBPA, letting her know someone would be in touch with her regarding the vehicle.
The scam works like this; when the consumer was contacted by an “agent” with EBPA, they were provided with easy steps to obtain the vehicle, one of the first being that the buyer sends their payment to the seller; in this case, EBPA. The only way this could be done was by depositing money into the company’s PayPal account via a Western Union Money Transfer.
However, after the payment is sent to EBPA, consumers received a follow up email that reads as follows:
We are very sorry to inform you that we have some bad news. The shipping process was stopped because your car is not insured. The trailer that was transporting your car is transporting another 2 cars too. The other buyers already paid the insurance of their their items so we are waiting for you to pay it. The cost of the insurance is $1,200.00 USD. You will receive this payment along with the car, also in case you won’t be satisfied with your item you’ll get all your money back (initial payment + insurance payment). We hope that you understand that is very important to insure the car during the transportation.
You have to make the payment suing the same payment method and the same agent details. We ae waiting for your payment confirmation as soon as possible so the shipping process can continue. Thank you for using our services!”
Unfortunately, even after the additional funds for the insurance were sent, the consumer never received their vehicle. This was the case for other consumers hoping to purchase a vehicle or boat from EBPA.
BBB wants consumers to remember these important tips when looking to make purchases online:
- Go to bbb.org to look up BBB Business Reviews for companies you are thinking about making purchases from.
- Type the URL directly into your browser; do not click on a link from an email or social media site unless you are absolutely sure the message is from the legitimate business.
- On the payment page, look for “https” at the beginning of the address (the “s” stands for “secure”).
- Be wary if the only option for payments are wire, money transfers, pre-paid credit cards, or iTunes gift cards; once you send money using these methods, you are not able to get it back.
- Look for “Contact Us” information, including a real address, a toll-free customer service number, and other ways to reach the company if you have a problem.
- Use a credit card (not a debit card) when shopping online for greater protections against possible fraud.
- If a website has a BBB Accredited Business seal, click on it. A real seal should link directly to that company’s BBB Business Review.
To check out a business or to file a complaint with BBB, start at bbb.org or use BBB’s Scam Tracker. Consumers can also get lists of BBB Accredited Businesses by using the Accredited Business Directory.
For more information on finding businesses you can trust, follow BBB on Facebook, Twitter, and at bbb.org.