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Beware of Spider Scammers.

February 26, 2014

Normally, I try to protect readers from scams. This time, this reader was caught in one – and found out it’s common but not well known online.

I needed a reference book, and went to a well known site named after a river. They operate a thriving second-hand page, with a list of options from various outlets.

Take a look at the list I found.


Naturally, I chose to pay “just a few pence” more to “Seller B” for their book, as it was in better condition.

I was quite surprised to get the book in an envelope from “Seller A.”

Of course, it was the “Seller A” copy of the book, exactly as Seller A described it.

Seller B had “Spider Scammed” me.

I also now wonder about Seller C too…

Seller B never had the book. Instead, they “spidered” the web, looking for items, then put their own description online on the basis that if anyone bought it, they could buy it later. And if not, they could simply say it was an error… or just not deliver it…

As Seller A confirmed when I traced them (Seller A was very upset about all this), moments after I bought the item, Seller B bought it from him, using another company name. Seller A had, in fact, done 8 transactions with them in a short time… and had to refund 2. Meaning a 25% failure rate – that’s high and unusual, Seller A says.

If seller B hadn’t got A to actually send the order direct to me, and it hadn’t arrived in a seller A envelope with their A branded bookmark in it, I wouldn’t have had the evidence to tell seller B that if they didn’t refund me an amount equivalent to the book’s worth, I would get them charged with “obtaining financial advantage by use of a false instrument.” They did refund me, and seller A have reported them to the well known river site… who didn’t reply.

BUT, a little online digging, and I discovered this:

For legal reasons, I can’t confirm that they are “seller B” in all this.

I think it is the perfect scam:

1) It trades on human nature – as it did for me.

2) It’s for a small amount, so nobody much bothers to cause a fuss. However, if you look at the 50,000+ feedbacks they have, those pennies mount up amazingly.

3) It’s hard to prove unless they make a mistake like they did with my order.

4) A big company are quite happy to let it happen, apparently.

5) It costs the scammer nothing but, as the article online says, it makes them £££.

6) They (as the link shows) intimidate buyers into withdrawing bad comments. People like me, with online reputations to protect, won’t comment in public just in case ( I’ve made the link a graphic so it won’t be picked up by a search, for example, and named nobody) – and so it can go on.

I hope I can make others aware of it, and that the scam will end by folk choosing the cheapest item or making sure the seller has it in stock in advance. That’s the message, and I hope readers find it helpful enough pass it on.

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