Hackers are getting into PayPal accounts, then using eBay accounts to make purchases and have them shipped to an intermediary address that redirects the package overseas. If you ship to them, good luck getting your money or your item back.
I recently listed an older model iPhone on eBay with a Buy It Now price and it sold within hours. At first, I was ecstatic to get the full asking price but then I noticed a couple of red flags while preparing the package:
- The buyer's name and shipping destination name were completely different.
- Both names looked foreign.
- The address was to a suite number of a company instead of a home address.
Before heading off to the post office, I decided to do a little research to make sure I wasn't about to get ripped off, and I'm glad I did. Message board threads going back two years began sounding the warning of this scam, and apparently eBay still won't do anything about it. You'd think they would flag the address or something. Instead, seller after seller risks losing their item and the money if you sent a package into this black hole.
The shipping address was a name with the following:
600 Markley Street, suite XXXXXX
Port Reading, NJ 07064
The first thing I searched for was Meest-America and I found this quote on their website: "Meest-America has become a dominant force in package delivery with services to Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia."
After some research, I found numerous discussions on eBay's community site and other message boards where people had received orders from buyers with the same address, but only a different suite number. What Meest-America does is let you set up a forwarding address through them so that someone in the United States can ship to another U.S. address instead of overseas. Seems like a good way to hide stuff, right? Also, as soon as the package is received by them, the U.S. Post Office is off the hook as the delivery has been handed over.
What usually happens after the seller ships is the buyer disputes the purchase and requests a refund. Since eBay almost always sides with buyers, the seller will be forced to give the money back and not ever get their item back. You could try to pursue legal action, but it'd be a waste of time over something worth a couple hundred dollars when dealing with hackers overseas. That's why this scam keeps coming up again and again.
If you have a buyer from this address, all you have to do on eBay is cancel their order and relist the item. At least that part is painless. However, shortly after relisting my old phone I got another instant purchase to another foreign name with an odd-looking address:
27 Merry Ln # NP0000####
East Hanover, NJ 07936
This is the same type of scam, just using a different shipping company. What the heck, eBay? I searched for the address and found another group of message board posts and "seller beware" threads warning people not to ship to that address.
The general consensus here is that if you get a purchase from anyone using shipping addresses like the two above, do not ship the item. Instead, just issue a refund and relist it. Don't even bother contacting the buyer because you'll just be sending messages to hackers.
This scam works both ways, too. If your account has been hacked and you get emails with shipping notices showing those addresses, you need to go change all your passwords and immediately dispute the purchases.