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7/31/2006
03:10 PM
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New Bot-Powered eBay Scam Uncovered

Crooks are using bots to create bogus eBay accounts that boast trustworthy profiles in a new scheme to rip off buyers.

"With that one-cent rate, building 100 accounts with 15 positive feedbacks each costs [just] $15 [total]," said Lovet. "And 100 accounts are a reasonably solid base to set up a good deal of bogus auctions. [These criminals] are building positive feedback while sleeping, watching porn, or chatting on IRC, and only for a fistful of bucks."

The whole setup -- sellers of one-cent items automating their end of the deal, criminals automating purchasing those penny items to create a history and receive legitimate-looking feedback -- is a good example of a cyber symbiotic relationship.

"It's win-win for both sides," said Lovet. "There are one-cent auctions that exist on one side, and crooks wanting to build positive feedback on the other.

"Two bots are talking to each other at some point," said Lovet, who noted that it would be funny if it wasn't being used to scam innocent eBay users.

Lovet said he had not uncovered any evidence that the two sides of the arrangement were being operated by the same people. "Both sides are only using each other," he said.

He recommended that buyers check any eBay seller's profile carefully, and if there are numerous one-cent purchases in the account's feedback, steer clear. "That's a strong sense that something's wrong," said Lovet.

Lovet has posted his eBay scam research on the Fortinet Web site.

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