Someone close to me was scammed the following way and I'd like to know which course of action to take is best.
The buyer is based in Denmark and bought a product from Yahoo Auctions (Japan). To do this they used a proxy because Yahoo Auction sellers in Japan don't sell internationally. There are companies that offer to bid for you and forward you the package for a fee.
The buyer saw a listing for 10 pokemon card boxes (the usual way to sell them to distributors is in a box with 10 pokemon card boxes). The seller had 50+ positive reviews with text from previous buyers and the translated description looked ok. The picture showed a pokemon card box.
The buyer bids. They get outbid but the higher bid gets removed and the auction closed before the scheduled time. The buyer pays the proxy service and the seller sends the item. (around USD 3000)
The proxy receives the item, takes a picture of it for the buyer and it turns to be 10 empty boxes (a relatively common scam). The listing mentioned boxes but not empty of course. On close inspection, the seller's positive reviews come from 1 yen transactions purposefully made to get cheap positive reputation in Yahoo auctions.
The buyer hasn't requested the proxy to ship the empty pokemon boxes to the buyer as there is no point in paying to ship an empty box across the globe. So the package is sitting in the proxy's warehouse in Japan.
Yahoo auctions take no responsibility for scams and proxy service also specifies no responsibility for scams. Buyer contacts proxy and proxy refuses to help or contact the buyer.
Do we have any good options here?
- Try to get proxy service to push the seller to return or cancel the transfer to the seller. They declined responsibility when answering emails and on their terms.
- Try to get the Danish bank to revert the transfer to the proxy service on the basis that the transaction was a scam. Unfortunately, the proxy service gets in the middle of it here and they have a claim for the money due to their TOS. But this might get them to do something. If the transfer was from buyer directly to seller then reverting it would fix the issue, but in this case the proxy is inadvertently protecting the seller. It can also get messy with international regulations.
- Something else? Contacting Japanese police doesn't seem an option for foreigners, and the seller's data is minimal. The proxy service might have tracking number or a "from" address, but it being an obvious scam I doubt we can find the scammer.
- Give up, and take it as an expensive lesson learned?
Edit extra info:
The proxy (Buyee) seems to have a subsidiary in the UK (Tenso UK Ltd.), but not in Denmark as shown here: https://buyee.jp/help/common/company
Buyee TOS: https://buyee.jp/help/common/terms?lang=en Relevant sections:
12.1 After the Products Etc. have arrived at the Company, the Company shall inspect the Products Etc. with the aim of checking the contents. At this time, the Company will on occasion remove or add etc. packaging as the Company deems necessary. However, the Company bears no obligation to carry out an inspection and the result of the inspection does not guarantee the quality of the product, presence/absence of defects, or authenticity of the product or that the said product does not violate the relevant laws or ordinances of the originating country, transit countries or destination country.
12.2 The Company will carry out the process described in Subarticle 12-1 based on the standard prescribed by the Company. The said process involves verification of the identity of the Products Etc.; that is, that there is no apparent discrepancy between the Products Etc. and the description of the Products Etc. (the "Product Description") stated by the Seller. The Product Description refers only to text written by the Seller and does not include the output of automatic translation.
12.5 Even if the result of the verification process finds that a Member has been defrauded, the Company does not bear any responsibility whatsoever except for actions that come under the Company's responsibility.
Yahoo auctions TOS (Japanese): https://auctions.yahoo.co.jp/special/html/guidelines.html
9.1 We are not involved in transactions between customers or the contents of products. Therefore, the seller or the winning bidder agrees in advance that the Company shall not be liable for any transactions or products between customers. However, this does not apply if it is caused by our intentional or gross negligence.
9.2 We do not guarantee the quality, safety or legality of the products exhibited in this service. In addition, regarding the reliability or accuracy of the description of the product, etc., whether the product, etc. presented by the seller can actually be sold or provided, or whether the successful bidder has the ability to pay for the product, etc. Is not guaranteed at all.