With popular Fritz boxes at particularly low prices, fraudsters on Ebay classifieds are currently trying to trap unsuspecting buyers – but the modus operandi is transparent.

Scams on Ebay classifieds and other trading platforms are widespread – after all, it is not particularly difficult to find a wealthy victim on the largest Internet portals in Germany at some point. But when even IT professionals are being robbed of their money, a warning might be in order again. Because it can actually be assumed that experts are less likely to fall into the traps of fraudsters. Apparently not this time, as the IT trade magazine “Heise” reports.

Apparently, it is the scammers’ particular approach that makes it so difficult to distinguish between legitimate offers and money traps in this case. Because, as “Heise” reports, the offer that a reader of the magazine fell for actually came from a trustworthy user account with a long membership and good ratings. At first glance, the provider meets all the criteria that indicate reliable trading (this is how you recognize serious buyers and sellers).

Ebay classifieds account hacked, then faked goods

The difference: In this case, the alleged seller’s account was apparently hacked in advance – or the access data was stolen in some way. An offer was then made with the well-known account for a particularly cheap Fritzbox – and with it an apparently good chance of being able to buy Germany’s most popular router at a huge discount.

Even if you are well versed in Ebay classifieds, you will not suspect anything at first when you see such an offer. One should prick up your ears if, as in this case of fraud, it is insisted in the course of the negotiations that payments should only be processed via Paypal’s “Send to friends” function. The intention behind it is clear: As with a transfer, the money cannot be booked back from the sender once the payment has been made.

In the case of the “Heise” reader, unfortunately, no alarm bells rang and the money was sent – only when no one answered at the other end did the fraud become apparent. In the meantime, a criminal complaint has been filed, it is said.

It is difficult to protect yourself from a scam with hacked accounts. Especially when the story that is told to you in the course of the negotiations seems believable. “Heise” still gives tips on how to check offers for authenticity – because a pattern can be seen in the fraud mentioned.

Text and pictures stolen

According to “Heise”, the offers themselves consist of stolen texts and stolen images. So the scammers don’t bother putting their own content online, they just use what’s there. While the sources of the stolen texts are not so easy to identify, image search websites help to find the original offers based on the photos.

It works like this: If you are using the Google Chrome browser, right-click to access the built-in image search. From there, go to “Send image to Google”. If you find a product photo of a classified ad elsewhere, this can be an indication that one of the offers – possibly the cheaper one – is not real. Use a different browser, save the image and upload it manually to Google Image Search or Tineye.

Better to play it safe

Otherwise, the usual rules apply: If the price is far too cheap compared to the new product, doubts about the good intentions of the seller can be raised. The same applies if only a specific payment method is possible. If you’re paying with PayPal, you should select “Goods and Services,” not send money to a friend – it costs money, but gives you the option to charge back the money if it doesn’t ship.

It is even easier to use the built-in payment function on Ebay classifieds. With “Pay Safely”, the platform acts as a trustee and takes care of things if something is wrong with the goods. Make sure that all communication takes place directly via Ebay Classifieds – including payment. As soon as contact via SMS or Whatsapp comes into play, an attempt at fraud is almost certain. In general, you should only give out your telephone number in exceptional cases for the purpose of making arrangements; you should under no circumstances transmit any information about your credit card.

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