The first scam of my life - what to do?

30 replies
There it is! It happened! I was scammed for the first time in my life. Here's the story:

I bought a website from this guy named named Sorin on Flippa. Unfortunately, the transaction did not go through flippa because we started talking on MSN and before I knew it, I asked for his PayPal address. Oh, by the way, it was a $700 website.

After realizing that he lied to me about the website (initially claimed that it generates $3,000 a month of revenue (of that, $1000 profit) - I know, too good to be true, I fell for it, learned the lesson - and that the website has bunch of advertisers, while it has none; plus, I need to pay $500 more to members), I have kindly asked him to refund me the money I sent him just an hour ago. Note that the domain hasn't even been transferred yet.

He refused. I took an attitude of saying that he cannot refuse something like that, and asked him for a refund once again. He again refused.

Now, I don't have the money in my account and I don't even have the domain transferred to my account either.

I called PayPal and they said that they can't offer any kind of protection against intangible goods. I filed a dispute, which I quickly escalated to a claim, only to be notified of the aforementioned by PayPal within minutes of my claim submission.

What am I supposed to do now? The seller is from Romania and his English is very poor. I'd report him to the law enforcement, but somehow I don't really trust the Romanian government (no offense Romanian citizens). The last resort is to contact some EU-powered institution (Europol, ECJ) and see if there's anything they could do.

Any tips, advice or anything that could help, please do let me know. Thanks.
#life #scam
  • Profile picture of the author Ben Roy
    Don't forget to try your credit card, unless you paid directly out of your bank account.
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  • Profile picture of the author timpears
    Get on it immediately with what ever you used to pay for it with, hopefully you didn't pay with a PayPal balance. No matter if you used a credit card or debit card or direct withdrawal from your bank funds, you can file a dispute with them and more than likely get it reversed. There is a short time period in which to do it, so don't wait to get the paperwork in. Just call yr credit card or bank customer service and get the forms filled out.
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  • Profile picture of the author Bo Mill
    Thanks for the credit card tip. Unfortunately, out of those $700, only $200 was withdrawn from my debit card, while the rest was from the PayPal balance.

    I called Bank of America today and they said they see the transaction as "Pending". So, I will call them tomorrow again.
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  • Profile picture of the author Skuxta
    I got scammed similar to how you have been.

    However it was the reverse. I was selling the site and he was buying.

    Well I managed to get his details by Whois. He may have fake details on Whois. But you can check the sites that are hosted on the same IP and cross reference.

    Then I had his phone number. Left a message on his voicemail threatening him that if the site was not returned I would contact my lawyers and setup a court case through the FBI's cyber crime department.

    Next morning I woke up and the domain was back in my control
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    • Profile picture of the author Bo Mill
      Originally Posted by Skuxta View Post

      I got scammed similar to how you have been.

      However it was the reverse. I was selling the site and he was buying.

      Well I managed to get his details by Whois. He may have fake details on Whois. But you can check the sites that are hosted on the same IP and cross reference.

      Then I had his phone number. Left a message on his voicemail threatening him that if the site was not returned I would contact my lawyers and setup a court case through the FBI's cyber crime department.

      Next morning I woke up and the domain was back in my control
      Similar situation. I got his phone number from Flippa, but it doesn't appear to be working (it's constantly off). But good idea about leaving the message though

      I was on the phone with PayPal and they did what they say is a one-time courtesy of reopening the claim for the same transaction. We'll see how that goes.

      Thank guys!
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  • Profile picture of the author HomeComputerGames
    Expensive lesson. I am sorry to hear it.

    There is an old saying "payback is a bitch".
    If you're not going to get your money back or the site then you can either let him get away with it or make his internet life $700 worth of living hell for awhile.

    You could choose to be relentless with him if you have his real information. Never give up and never let him forget it. If he is involved with the Internet then he cannot easily hide.

    Have someone write a script for you that will email him every hour.
    Submit his email address and phone number to adult newsgroups advertising him as a man that likes things I shouldn't mention on this forum. Publish his home address with the same idea inviting "friends" over at anytime day or night. No need to knock first.

    If he has adsense give him some hell there.

    Does he own the site or was that a mask also?
    If he owns the site make sure it never sees the light of day again. File reports, bad reviews, warnings, and whatever else you can think of. Or hire someone to do it for you.
    If he tries to sell any sites take a stand there also.
    See if the domain for his name is open then buy it and burn him online.
    Anyone going to buy a site should be doing some background checking on the person they are buying it from. Whenever his name is searched make sure your opinions of him come up first.

    God I hate thieves!
    I was mostly joking about the revenge thing....more of a rant at seeing someone victimized.

    There really is not much more that you can do besides what you are already doing....
    Good luck to you. I do hope you come out on top regarding this
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    • Profile picture of the author MisterMunch
      Originally Posted by HomeComputerGames View Post

      Expensive lesson. I am sorry to hear it.

      There is an old saying "payback is a bitch".
      If you're not going to get your money back or the site then you can either let him get away with it or make his internet life $700 worth of living hell for awhile.

      You could choose to be relentless with him if you have his real information. Never give up and never let him forget it. If he is involved with the Internet then he cannot easily hide.

      Have someone write a script for you that will email him every hour.
      Submit his email address and phone number to adult newsgroups advertising him as a man that likes things I shouldn't mention on this forum. Publish his home address with the same idea inviting "friends" over at anytime day or night. No need to knock first.

      If he has adsense give him some hell there.

      Does he own the site or was that a mask also?
      If he owns the site make sure it never sees the light of day again. File reports, bad reviews, warnings, and whatever else you can think of. Or hire someone to do it for you.
      If he tries to sell any sites take a stand there also.
      See if the domain for his name is open then buy it and burn him online.
      Anyone going to buy a site should be doing some background checking on the person they are buying it from. Whenever his name is searched make sure your opinions of him come up first.

      God I hate thieves!
      I was mostly joking about the revenge thing....more of a rant at seeing someone victimized.

      There really is not much more that you can do besides what you are already doing....
      Good luck to you. I do hope you come out on top regarding this
      Or you can spend that time doing something creative that will benefit you...

      700 is though to lose, but ad an extra 70 hours of active hate to that and you can start to see how much you have lost.
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  • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
    Banned
    Meanwhile you're not addressing the questions on your WSO. Not a good look.
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  • Profile picture of the author actionplanbiz
    dang i think you should whip that last resort out. or threaten him with it.
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  • Profile picture of the author TristanPerry
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    Sorry to hear about this, being scammed is never a great thing. I sort of got scammed out of $1k a couple of years ago, and it's definitely not a fun thing to have to go through.

    PayPal give no protection. I'm also a domainer and domain theft (due to people paying for your domain and then, once they have it, charging back etc) are things we hear about on a weekly basis. Now PayPal is hated by the domaining community, and rightly so. Any financial company (or any other type of company) who turns a blind eye to scamming and fraud should not be allowed in business.

    You can try contacting the authorities, although chances are little will be done. I tried contacting the USA authorities when I (sort of, long story) got scammed and they truly didn't care. At least, not unless it's a $xx,xxx transaction as far as I can see.

    From the sounds of it (i.e. since PayPal are refusing to help), unfortunately I think the only advise I can give is simply to learn from this.

    PayPal don't care when it comes to intangible goods, hence in the future look into an Escrow service (or similar) when it comes to this.

    Also if you do pay by credit card in the future, you could have done a chargeback hence got your money back.
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    • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
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      Originally Posted by TristanPerry View Post

      Also if you do pay by credit card in the future, you could have done a chargeback hence got your money back.
      Interesting thing about chargeback - the French banks (I live in Paris) don't and won't do it. I found that out the hard way after being scammed.
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      • Profile picture of the author TristanPerry
        Originally Posted by Metronicity View Post

        Interesting thing about chargeback - the French banks (I live in Paris) don't and won't do it. I found that out the hard way after being scammed.
        Wow, that's news to me I thought it was a EU/UK law, too. Sorry to hear that anywhoo.

        Chargebacks can be a great thing for protection (albeit being abused by scammers/fraudsters too), it seems a tad silly the French banks won't do it.
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  • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
    Banned
    You are probably just going to lose it. Being from Romania and not having the domain and not having the money and paying with Paypal balance, I don't see anything that you can do except to not buy a site in that way again. Keeping it on Flippa and verifying the site details before purchasing .... but I'm sure you know all that now.
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  • Profile picture of the author Philarmon
    That's why i only use Escrow for transactions over $300 - PayPal gives no protection at all for intangible goods. Scammers always win if you pay by PayPal. Contacting the government institutions will be a waste of time - we are in the internet world and nobody will care that someone have stole something that you can't even see or hold in your hands.

    But credit cards companies usually stand behind their customers and most probably you will get the money that was withdrawn from your cc back.
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  • Once again Paypal/eBay is a conduit to fraud. They won't stop it because they make money from it.
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  • Profile picture of the author derekwong28
    Bo, I successfully won a case in PayPal against a scammer on DP who misrepresented a site. However, the scammer had withdrawn most of the money in his account. I still managed to get about a third back though.

    Derek
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  • Profile picture of the author -Jericho-
    I hate paypal. I've been scammed a few times for much smaller amounts and paypal basically told me every time that it's basically my problem. I've complained to them so many times I wouldn't be surprised if some people know me by name there.

    The worst part is on one of the transactions about 15 other people filed disputes and all of us were denied.
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  • Profile picture of the author BeachCruzer
    Bo, my suggestion is to always insist on a CD copy of the website html code. Now you turned an intangible into a physical product and that IS disputable with PayPal.

    I wish you the best of luck--

    Michael Cruz
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  • Profile picture of the author Bo Mill
    Thanks all for your input.

    James, I am not sure if that would work. PayPal would probably check the IP addresses from which I have logged in, and they'd see that all of them are the same.

    Still, I'd try, if this doesn't work out good.
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  • Profile picture of the author MemberWing
    For intangible goods paypal does not offer seller protection.
    I sell software and once buyer decided he wants to keep money *and* software - it's enough for him to open a case with paypal and paypal will immediately freeze the disputed amount from my account. For that reason I sell initial expireable license to deliver full permanent one - once customer proved to be legit - but that another story.

    So as a buyer - it should be enough for you to open a case and seller automatically does not have protection + paypal will start to work on it.
    So your Paypal dispute should be happening.
    No guarantees of course - likely romanian guy withdrawn cash quickly and flew away and Paypal will be unlikely to keep the tab.

    Gleb
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    • Profile picture of the author Bo Mill
      Originally Posted by MemberWing View Post

      For intangible goods paypal does not offer seller protection.
      I sell software and once buyer decided he wants to keep money *and* software - it's enough for him to open a case with paypal and paypal will immediately freeze the disputed amount from my account. For that reason I sell initial expireable license to deliver full permanent one - once customer proved to be legit - but that another story.

      So as a buyer - it should be enough for you to open a case and seller automatically does not have protection + paypal will start to work on it.
      So your Paypal dispute should be happening.
      No guarantees of course - likely romanian guy withdrawn cash quickly and flew away and Paypal will be unlikely to keep the tab.

      Gleb
      In addition to that, I have learned that PayPal does not offer buyer protection for intangible goods either. Trust me, I called and checked.
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  • Profile picture of the author Bo Mill
    I just want to give a funny little update.

    Originally, the seller and I agreed for me to pay him in two parts: $700 now (that is, then) and $800 on October 3rd.

    The seller has just contacted me on MSN and said "It's October 3rd, you send $800, ok?"

    Hahaha
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    • Profile picture of the author jtstunner
      Sorry to hear you got scammed,Don't feel to bad it has happened to me too.Good luck with it all
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    • Profile picture of the author Kim Standerline
      ok so if you still want the site tell him you'll transfer the rest of the agreed price after he has transferred everything. (At least you'll get something out of it). Then turn the tables on him


      Kim


      Originally Posted by Bo Mill View Post

      I just want to give a funny little update.

      Originally, the seller and I agreed for me to pay him in two parts: $700 now (that is, then) and $800 on October 3rd.

      The seller has just contacted me on MSN and said "It's October 3rd, you send $800, ok?"

      Hahaha
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    • Profile picture of the author TristanPerry
      Originally Posted by Bo Mill View Post

      I just want to give a funny little update.

      Originally, the seller and I agreed for me to pay him in two parts: $700 now (that is, then) and $800 on October 3rd.

      The seller has just contacted me on MSN and said "It's October 3rd, you send $800, ok?"

      Hahaha
      Oh dear! I assume your reply was less-than-cordial?

      Again sorry to hear this, hopefully something positive will come from this.

      "We all learn from our mistakes" etc.
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    • Profile picture of the author steve m
      Originally Posted by Bo Mill View Post

      I just want to give a funny little update.

      Originally, the seller and I agreed for me to pay him in two parts: $700 now (that is, then) and $800 on October 3rd.

      The seller has just contacted me on MSN and said "It's October 3rd, you send $800, ok?"

      Hahaha

      Maybe he'll push the domian once you have paid for the site in full?


      But I wouldn't count on it ha ha ha!

      I got scammed a site on DP to and paypal to me quietly to just run along. No chance of gettein the money back mate I'm afraid. I hate scammers, no need for it. Gotta admire his balls though in asking for the other $800. Lol ask for his adress and that you are going to pay in person LOL
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    • Profile picture of the author AndyBlackSEO
      Originally Posted by Bo Mill View Post

      I just want to give a funny little update.

      Originally, the seller and I agreed for me to pay him in two parts: $700 now (that is, then) and $800 on October 3rd.

      The seller has just contacted me on MSN and said "It's October 3rd, you send $800, ok?"

      Hahaha

      That's just damn right rubbing it in your face. I'm a great believer in what goes around, comes around. I've seen it so many times. He'll get his one day.
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      • Profile picture of the author Kay King
        I have kindly asked him to refund me the money I sent him just an hour ago
        This isn't paypal's problem - you made the purchase decision. Biggest problem seems to be you didn't investigate the site until after you sent the money.

        I think the lesson to learn is why you fell for buying outside the Flippa site - why you didn't insist on an escrow account and why you sent money and then took a close look at what you were buying. If it only took an hour to change your mind, your decision making process needs to be improved.

        Kim's suggestion is the best one here and might at least gain you control of the site and domain.

        kay
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        • Profile picture of the author TelegramSam
          Originally Posted by Kay King View Post

          This isn't paypal's problem - you made the purchase decision. Biggest problem seems to be you didn't investigate the site until after you sent the money.

          I think the lesson to learn is why you fell for buying outside the Flippa site - why you didn't insist on an escrow account and why you sent money and then took a close look at what you were buying. If it only took an hour to change your mind, your decision making process needs to be improved.

          Kim's suggestion is the best one here and might at least gain you control of the site and domain.

          kay

          I don't want to kick anyone when they are down, but why blame paypal, or the internet or anything else, except yourself.

          You wouldn't walk into BestBuy and spend a load of money without checking the thnig out first. Would you?

          If I spend more than a few dollars on anything, especially on the net, I do my due diligence. One has to!

          Never hand money over to anyone for any transaction such as this, without using some kind of escrow service. Even then it can go pear shaped.

          I have walked away from many deals which sounded too good to be true. Amongst them, there may have been a great deal, but you have to create you own policies for doing business and stick to them.
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  • Profile picture of the author digidoodles
    I know how you feel... I'm owed $30K from 2 different clients.. $11k from one client... and about $18,500 from another client.

    One from an, alleged, "big name" marketer who has scammed HIS clients out of a lot of money.
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