...It probably is. We just had this tale of caution from regular dpreview reader Terence Song about his problems with trying to purchase a Canon EOS D30 from an auction on EBay. "Don't be fooled by the prices and friendliness of this person. No matter how good the deal seems and how sincere the seller seems, don't be trapped!!!!" Please be careful out there !!!

Terence's e-mail:

Dear Phil,

I have been visiting dpreview.com for about a year now and think that it's the best review site for digital photography. I know the site has many hits everyday and wanted to let you know about internet fraud that is going (still) involving the sale of digital cameras. Many have fallen victim, including me. I feel so stupid and have been in much distress since it happened (a few days ago). Below is a description of my experience and hope that you will let your readers know about it.

The description below was before I knew about the ROMANIAN fraudster.

I saw an auction on EBay.co.uk for a Canon EOS D30 Digital SLR Camera. The reserve price was USD1500 (approx. GBP1070), which is about half the price compared to the RRP. So I contacted the seller to ask for details.

The seller used the ID "bebetopus" and had a Yahoo email account "bebetopus@yahoo.com".

I asked about the location of the item (because the auction was in USD but the item in Avon, UK). The seller said he was in Romania and would be coming over to UK in a week's time. When I said I wanted to meet for a personal exchange/transaction, he replied saying that he wasn't sure when and if he would be coming over to the UK. He said that he had 10 units of the digital camera to sell and would sell it for USD1500 (and I didn't have to wait for the auction to clost) with free delivery via FedEx or DHL. He said that he had other buyers wanting to buy the cameras and rushed me into making a decision (stupid me). He even gave me e-mail references....which were all bogus (which now I know he registered all the email accounts and replied to all my emails to those accounts himself!)!


I was to pay via MoneyGram to the following person. I had asked one of the references for the real name of the seller and was told "her" name is "Roxana Tomescu". When I decided to send the payment and asked for her address, surprise, surprise! It was....


I found out about MoneyGram which charges 3 times more than a standard wire transfer via my bank. So I contacted the seller from Romania and asked if I could make the payment via wire transfer instead. He agreed....and told me to wire the payment to the following account:


After telling him my decision to buy the camera and send payment, the seller kept emailing me, everyday asking whether I have sent payment and to let him know when I did. After sending payment (on the 20 April 2001), he continued emailing me constantly asking me to check with my bank about the transfer. The amount transferred was taken from my bank account on 24 April 2001. After one week, I stopped receiving emails from him, the last email was on 25 April 2001. Before that, we exchanged at least 2 emails daily. I suppose he has received the money. I have also since then tried to contact the references he gave me but to no avail. His ebay account has also been suspended.

Since many retailers too only accept money orders and wire transfers from international buyers. I thougth this was the case.

Why doesn't EBay (and all other auction sites) warn buyers about potential scams and fraudulent activities from sellers in these countries? I had to save for a really long time to pay for it (and man, did I really "pay for it"). Such people are scum of the earth and do not deserve freedom nor rights. I am emotionally distressed, angry and can't stop thinking about it. I was stupid and naive to not to think such activities were possible.

My advice, after being stung real hard by this person, is to never trust anyone selling anything from Romania!!! Don't be fulled by the prices and friendliness of this person. No matter how good the deal seems and how sincere the seller seems, don't be trapped!!!! The fraudster also "sells" high-end laptops, digital cameras, mobile phones and other electrical "toys".

I have filed a complaint with the IFCC (Internet Fraud Complaint Center) which is partly run by the FBI.

I hope that no one else will be able to read about my experience and not fall prey to such activities.

Thank you.

Kind regards,