Abusing online communities

14Nov07

Considering the vast amounts of online communities that exist, it probably comes as no surprise there are thousands of people trying to exploit their users. TV adverts will have you believe that all you need to stay safe online is the latest expensive updates of McCarefree anti-virus, but when someone contacts you personally no amount of spam filters or firewalls can protect you.

Communities such as eBay (yes, it IS a community!) main business is to encourage the sale of goods in a safe online environment. Recently there has been an emergence of people using eBay for what are known as cheque over-payment scams. These con-artists look to steal money from you by offering what seems like a great price for your goods via private e-mail or message on eBay. What they don’t offer is direct payment by credit card or PayPal, but instead say they will send you a cheque. If you choose to go ahead, you’ll end up with a nasty bank charge for the cheque bouncing – as well as no longer having the goods as you sent them on!

These kind of activities are not limited to eBay. I recently listed my own laptop on Facebook’s marketplace. Initially I received honest and genuine inquiries, but after it had been listed for 2 weeks I began receiving dubious e-mails from users from outside of the UK asking to buy the item via cheque. As a regular user of the Internet, I was of course aware of what they were trying to do. But what about a newcomer to the web?

I think with eBay it’s well documented the risks as buyers and they have prominent warnings about how to conduct safe transactions. Sites like Facebook, however, which offer a marketplace as an ‘added extra’ to their primary activity (social networking in this case) don’t seem to bother with some stringent rules or warnings. What makes matters worse is one of the scammers on Facebook who contacted me had a full blown profile complete with some friends on his list to make him seem all the more genuine. A less knowledgeable user could easily have been sucked in by the blurb sent by the con-man.

In order to combat this problem, online communities such as message boards and social networking sites which offer market places need to encourage their members to read thoroughly warnings about making transactions with people they do not know or trust. eBay’s feedback system goes a long way to helping people making safe purchases, but when on a marketplace like at Facebook you are relying entirely on personal judgement.

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3 Responses to “Abusing online communities”


  1. 1 www.topcreditcardsadvice.info » Abusing online communities
  2. 2 www.bestdebtarticles.info » Abusing online communities
  3. 3 www.bestfinancialadvisor.info » Abusing online communities

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