The Internet is global – this we all know. How global? Well, you can send emails, talk through it, and buy a product – all online and instantaneously from any corner of the globe. If there ever has been any liberty that allows you to ‘fly’ from one corner of the world to another sitting in your room, this is it.
Does that feel comforting? Not really, when you come to know that dangers lurk at every corner to trap you as you venture out.
We know of worms, viruses, spyware and all those that seek to invade our computers. But do we know there are flesh-n-blood fraudsters just waiting to prey on you and you’ll probably not have an inkling of that when it happens?
Welcome to the world of cybercrime. And where else will that thrive except in busy marketplaces like eBay?
Bulgarians specialize in intellectual property theft; Ukraine is a leader in online credit card crime; the Russians have a profitable niche in Internet dating fraud… But when it comes to online auctions, particularly for big-ticket items such as cars that can yield $5,000 a scam, Romanians own the game. Romanian police estimate that cyber-crime is now a multimillion-dollar national industry, as important to organized criminals here as drug smuggling or human trafficking.
It is scary, no doubt. But maybe the consolation is that the fraudsters are mostly after high-value items on eBay, not the usual less valued ones.
Do you feel some comfort? Perhaps. Because as the LA Times article points out, eBay takes such crimes seriously, so much so that it sends its experts all the way to Romania to bust such rackets.
However, despite the warmth of eBay action, one thing is for sure. The onus of caution remains unwaveringly on the buyers who put their money online to get something, whether at eBay or elsewhere.