Nebraska couple scammed by fake eBay Motors camper seller

Published: Jun. 15, 2020 at 7:43 PM CDT
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The threat of COVID-19 caused a Nebraska couple to take evasive action. Unfortunately, they played into the hands of scammers.

For a central Nebraska couple, a campground could be a getaway from the coronavirus.

“The apartment building I’m at now, there are people infected with COVID,” said William Harris.

Hoping to avoid COVID-19 exposure, Harris and his pregnant partner Briauna Riley paid $2,000 for a camper offered online.

“To get away from all of this in the seclusion of the camper,” Harris said.

But that became a negative experience.

“It’s very straining to know, and hurtful to know that everything we had is gone,” Riley said.

Scammers hijacked the eBay Motors logo and communicated only through emails. They told the couple to put the payment on eBay cards.

Once the scammers have you feeling relaxed about buying eBay cards, they’ll tell you to scratch off the pin number on the back, take a photo of it and text it to them. Then they can collect the money from anywhere in the world.

The couple told their story to Better Business Bureau President Jim Hegarty.

“And it gets to a point where you’re being told the way to pay for it is through some sort of gift card, that’s the tip-off to the ripoff,” Hegarty said.

As scammers kept demanding more money for taxes and insurance, Harris knew they’d never see the camper or their money.

“They don’t care what your race is, they don’t care about anybody being pregnant or nobody being sick. If there’s a way to scam you, they’re going to scam you,” Harris said.

A camper in a campground would provide more than enough social distancing but the couple learned the need to protect against a viral scam.

The lessons learned include never purchasing a vehicle online without seeing it in person and without talking to the seller. Scammers often use only emails and texts to disguise accents that might raise a red flag.