High School Student Loses $1,200 in New Gift Card Scam - NBC Chicago
NBC 5 Responds Archive

NBC 5 Responds Archive

High School Student Loses $1,200 in New Gift Card Scam

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    High School Student Loses $1,200 in New Gift Card Scam

    Enyaeva Michelin, 17, has been saving her hard-earned money for three years to surprise her parents with the ultimate Christmas gift: a car, to help the Evanston family of five get around. But those plans were quashed after thieves lured the Evanston high school student into an elaborate new gift card scam, walking off with her cash. Lisa Parker reports. (Published Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018)

    Enyaeva Michelin, 17, has been saving her hard-earned money for three years to surprise her parents with the ultimate Christmas gift: a car, to help the Evanston family of five get around.  But those plans were quashed after thieves lured the Evanston high school student into an elaborate new gift card scam, walking off with her cash.  

    "I saw an ad for the perfect car I was like this is awesome. I can use this for my family," Michelin said. "So I was like this is perfect. The price was great."

    An attractive price tag at $1,200, was accompanied by one more thing that sucked her in.

    "So she was saying that her husband had passed and she was in need of money quickly because she just wanted to sell the car and it brings back bad memories," Michelin recalled.

    That “grieving widow” then sent Michelin an invoice for the car from “eBay Motors.”

    "And I looked up eBay Motors,” Michelin said. “It’s a real company. It’s legit. Like they sell car parts and everything."

    Michelin says “customer service” instructed her to buy $1,200 worth of eBay gift cards to pay for the car – which she did – by reading the numbers aloud over the phone.

    "Which at the time I was like sure of course. eBay, eBay cards, eBay motors. It all makes sense," Michelin said.

    What didn’t make sense? Michelin didn’t hear a word from “eBay Motors” until she reached out to ask for an update. And that is when her heart sank.

    "We’re going to need basically going to need another $1,000 to cover cargo issues," Michelin was told. "All I can describe is I felt sick and I just kind of started crying."

    As it turns out, her instincts were right. After NBC 5 Responds asked eBay to look in to Michelin’s case, the company described it as full of “major red flags” and confirmed Michelin was the victim of an elaborate scam using gift cards as payment.

    A problem so widespread, eBay also shared this warning to consumers in their statement to NBC 5 Responds:  

    This incident was a scam as it did not take place on eBay Motors. Unfortunately, scam artists will list vehicles for sale on fake landing pages, Craigslist or other non-eBay trading sites, and promise eBay’s protection as a means of completing the scam. Criminals often exploit well-known, trusted brand names like eBay to attract consumers and then lure them onto fake websites and into fraudulent transactions. We always encourage all our shoppers to be cautious when they aren’t purchasing a vehicle directly through the eBay website. We provide tips for safe car shopping and warning signs to look out for scams on the eBay Motors Security Center page.

    This incident was a scam as it did not take place on eBay Motors. Unfortunately, scam artists will list vehicles for sale on fake landing pages, Craigslist or other non-eBay trading sites, and promise eBay’s protection as a means of completing the scam. Criminals often exploit well-known, trusted brand names like eBay to attract consumers and then lure them onto fake websites and into fraudulent transactions. We always encourage all our shoppers to be cautious when they aren’t purchasing a vehicle directly through the eBay website. We provide tips for safe car shopping and warning signs to look out for scams on the eBay Motors Security Center page.

    More information from eBay on identifying and avoiding scams can be found below.

    Common warning signs:

    1. Vehicle is advertised well below what it is worth.

    · Know the approximate value of the vehicle you are interested in buying by using trusted resources on the internet such as Kelley Blue Book or Nada Guides.

    · If it appears too good to be true, it probably is.

    FACT: Criminals will make the vehicle very appealing and tempt you with a price you don't want to miss out on.

    2. Seller pushes for speedy completion of the transaction and requests payment through a service or method that can put the money in their hands quickly.

    · Moneygram (see example )

    · RELoadit card (see example )

    · PayPal MyCash card (see example )

    · eBay gift card (see example)

    · iTunes card (see example)

    · OneVanilla card (see example)

    · Western Union (see example)

    · Direct Bank Transfer where the bank account is provided (see example )

    · GreenDot (see example )

    FACT: Common payment methods used in legitimate purchases are cash in person, credit card, PayPal, Bill Me Later, money order, cashier's check, financial loans, or personal check.

    Escrow accounts can also be used to securely transfer funds to the seller (providing that you set up the escrow account, not the seller). eBay recommends using our approved escrow service with Escrow.com. Learn more about using an escrow service.

    Direct bank transfers and wire payments may also be requested by the Seller. Please proceed with caution with these payment methods and remember it is always a good idea to inspect the vehicle in person before sending any money.

    With all transactions, we want to encourage you to work with the Seller. In addition, you may want to consider providing payment at the time you pick up the vehicle.

    3. You cannot meet the seller or look at the vehicle prior to sending a payment. The seller may be very polite and apologetic, but cannot meet you due to a special circumstance, such as:

    · Seller is being/has been deployed by the military

    · Seller is going through a divorce (or getting married)

    · Death in the family or a health issue of a relative

    · They work on a boat or are out of town for an extended period of time

    · Received through inheritance and not needed

    FACT: Legitimate sellers are motivated and will make every effort to meet with all potential buyers immediately. If the seller cannot meet, they will designate another person to show the vehicle on their behalf.

    4. Private seller offers free shipping of the vehicle to you. Criminals may tell you they have access to transportation resources, possibly through their employer or because they are in the military and can coordinate the delivery for you (even if it's cross country).

    · Similar to being priced below what it is worth, this typically is a tactic used to entice potential buyers

    FACT: On eBay, as the buyer, you typically are responsible for picking up the vehicle or hiring a shipping company. Some eBay Motors Dealers may offer free shipping on our website.

    To determine if the listing is from a Private Seller or Dealer please refer to the field labeled "For Sale By" within the description tab under the Item specifics section.

    5. You found the vehicle on another website and the seller tells you eBay will protect the transaction, such as:

    · Extend eBay warranty, eBay guarantee, or a buyer's protection plan

    · Offer a return policy in case you are not satisfied (like a 'cooling off' period)

    · Process the payment directly or hold/secure the funds

    FACT: eBay provides Vehicle Purchase Protection only for transactions that start and are completed on the eBay Motors website (other terms and conditions apply). In addition, eBay does NOT hold payments or extend protection for non-eBay conducted transactions.

    The only way to buy a vehicle on eBay is by logging into your eBay account with a user ID/email address and password. One of the following needs to be true:

    · You were the winning bidder on the auction

    · You clicked 'Buy it now'

    · You sent a best offer and the seller accepted it

    In these cases, the item will always appear in the purchase history of your eBay account.

    6. Criminals want to lure you into feeling safe. They take extra effort to disguise their websites and emails to look like they are from eBay or associated with eBay, when they are not. See Example

    · Emails have poor grammar, broken English or have other distinguishing errors (e.g., misspelled words, incorrect punctuation)

    · Communications may be overly formal or sound very mechanical. The responses are not personalized and could include general terms like 'Dear Sir' and 'Good Day'

    · Emails are not sent from the 'eBay.com’ domain. Criminals may have a recognizable word in their email name or as part of their domain name, such as 'eBay' or 'VPP' (e.g.,eBay@vppinsurance.com) but these are NOT sent from eBay.

    · Email contains false information like invoice numbers, transaction case IDs, or VPP case ID #s

    If you are suspicious about an email that claims to be from eBay, sign in to My eBay and click the Messages tab. If you do NOT see the same message "From eBay", the email is likely fake. To report a fake email, forward it tospoof@ebay.com

    To date, more than FIVE million customers have purchased vehicles through eBay. eBay works hard to create a safe marketplace, but criminals still may attempt to exploit you. Please be cautious with all online transactions and research the seller and the item you are intending to purchase carefully before making any payments.

    If you are still unsure if the vehicle being offered is legitimate, contact eBay Customer Service.

    Get the latest from NBC Chicago anywhere, anytime

    • Download the App

      Available for IOS and Android