I am working on a post detailing ways to avoid getting scammed, but I’m not going to have it ready in time for today. So I thought I would share my motivation for teaching that lesson. Below is my story of the time I got scammed out of almost $1000 and locked out of my paypal account.
Three years ago, I was out of work and strapped for money. I thought I would give freelancing a shot with one of the numerous freelancing marketplace websites, getafreelancer.com From that website, I was contacted by a user by the name of Adrain Cotiga. He askedg me to administer some ebay sales for him as a middle-man and would get a 10% cut. The original terms were payment of 90% of the auctions via paypal after he shipped the items. Since there were numerous levels of protection listed in this scheme, I agreed.
After the auction, he informed me that his paypal account had been closed and I would need to make payment via Western Union (red flag #1). And as a statement of trust, I needed to send the money for the first auction before he would ship the items for any of the items (red flag #2).
Like an idiot, I agreed to these new terms. In hindsight, the entire scheme was an obvious setup and even against Ebay’s and Paypal’s terms of service. And when the terms changed, I should have refunded the buyers money and simply been out $60 in ebay fees for the three auctions. That would have been very bad for me in my financial situation, but better than getting $1400 in Paypal chargebacks after those fees were already paid, Western Union fees of $70 and spending half of the money on credit card and student loan payments.
But I did pay. And after getting the money for that first auction, Adrian, who was in Wien, Austria, simply disappeared. I never received another email from him. I did file complaints with Western Union, GetAFreelancer.com, the local police, and the internet crime complaint center (IC3). I also explained to eBay and Paypal that I had been scammed in hopes of being relieved of the fees and charges against me.
The results were disappointing. Ebay and Paypal only sent responses that I was responsible for charges originating from my account. The local police lectured me about being safe on the internet. Western Union, GetAFreelancr.com and the IC3 never responded.
To the best I’ve my knowledge “Adrian Cotiga” is still out there with the $730 he got out of me and continuing to dupe people dumb enough to participate in his scams.
In the meantime, I currently unable to have a Paypal account in my name and have to do selling through my brother, who takes a small cut.
I hope this story serves as a cautionary tale for anyone who may otherwise fall for a get rich quick scam.
Have you ever been scammed? Were you able to recover anything?