12-13-2006, 04:42 AM
12-13-2006, 08:42 PM
Interesting! Ain't science wonderful?
The Crystal Cave
12-17-2006, 02:09 PM
This is a great article, thank you for posting it.
I recently came across a fraud who operates in the manner described in the article. I needed a computer for work, couldn't afford a new one, and I started scouring eBay and found one with so-far reasonable bidding on what I was searching for.
The seller's rating said '98.5% positive feedback' for about 950 sales, which is pretty good, considering you can't please 98.5% of the people in life to begin with. I usually just look at approval rating for little items like a CD, maybe a quick pass on the feedback page to see if there were any recent negatives, which I did here.
I thought it peculiar that a significant number of comments on the first feedback page were left by people listed as 'no longer a member.' So I went to page 2, and there were more. I kept going and counted nearly 200 positives from people who were no longer members - unknown if they had been banned or simply discontinued themselves. But that many?
Dozens and dozens of the 'no longer a member' purchasers had recently bought a cheap poster, and the praise was so effusive it made this seller sound like he could turn aluminum into gold. It was clear he was either buying his own item under multipe names in order to leave positive feedback for himself, or he had a stable of others who were doing it for him, which is the form of fraud described in the article you posted.
Buried in this mountain of praise that these 'buyers' left for this person were some enormous red flags, comments left by legitmate buyers who had been taken by this guy. I had the time that night to scan 950 items in the feedback area and realize what was happening. Most bidders don't, or they take the overall percent of positive feedback at face value.
I contacted eBay and asked why a warning didn't pop up in their sophisticated equipment that said 'suspicious' for a poster who had such a huge number of 'former members' who had left positive feedback, most of whom were surely banned by eBay itself. Reponse: We don't have the ability to do anything like that, we wait for people to report a shill (a person who bids on his own item to push buyers into raising their bids). Excuse me, I'm not asking about shilling, I'm asking about padding positives. In reply, I got a description of a shill and a link to the eBay page that describes it.
I learned two no-cost lessons. First, actually read feedback left by people and not rely on the percentage of positive feedback that appears on every page. And second, there are no consequences for a seller who takes money and runs or who ships junk.
Thanks again for the article.
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