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Blakely wired the money right away, but she never got the dress. She later found out she had wired the money to a scammer who had been watching the bidding. "Basically from what I found out, he watches for big-ticket, emotional items," Blakely says. The scammer had sent her an e-mail that looked as though it was sent via eBay, but it was a fake, Blakely says.

Sid says many people are conned on auction sites in the same way as Blakely. "Once you leave the confines of eBay, you're kind of on your own," he says.

Rob Chestnut, who heads up eBay's fraud unit, says that's exactly what users should avoid. "Our security teams are working to keep the site itself safe, so the first thing [scammers] want to do is try to drag you away from the secure environment and get you off where they can communicate directly with you," Rob says.

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Although Blakely paid a con artist for a dress she never received, her story does have a happy ending. "Monique Lhuillier heard my story, and because they believe in happy endings at Monique, they sent me the dress," Blakely says.
FROM: What the New Scam Artists Don't Want You to Know
Published on January 01, 2006