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Recently my eBay account was hacked and a fraudulent listing was made, it was for a mobile phone with a sale price of just £12 (about 5% of its RRP) with 10000 units. I received a notification to say that I'd made a sale, which set alarm bells ringing and I was able to remove the listing within a couple of hours of it being posted.

After securing my account I'm left puzzled, what exactly was the hacker tying to gain from this? Was this an attempt at some sort of scam, or simply mischief?

Checking the withdraw details I only saw my own. I was even invoiced to my own details to pay for the listing; although this has since been credited back.

  • Hmmm...Good question. If they didn't do anything more than what you've described then I'd have to say it sounds like mischief. After all, there was nothing to gain from it unless they could somehow direct payments to themselves, but you say it doesn't appear they did anything more than add a false listing through your account. I'll be interested to see other people's feedback on this. – Daniel Anderson Nov 8 '16 at 19:47
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    I think it seems likely that this was a "ping" to see if the account was attended. Since you reacted to their ping they probably won't continue, if you hadn't then they would be able to start using it for a scam. – MD-Tech Nov 9 '16 at 10:45
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    Like @MD-Tech said, plus this was likely the opening move in a scam. So they buy 500 units from you for 6000. Then file with eBay that you never provided the item. Be sure to check that they did not put a different payment account on your account so that money coming in goes to them. – Xalorous Nov 9 '16 at 19:42
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A few paths to gain from this (sky's the limit for criminals):

  • Change details later to withdraw money, as you said.
  • Pose as support and charge the seller a fee for "securing" their account.
  • Pose as support and charge buyers a fee for "resolving" the bad transaction.

Creating the problem and posing as the solution provider is a very common dynamic in scams. These crimes are often more convoluted than you'd think at face value, and the fraudulent transactions you see are just a means to identify a mark and start a dialogue with them. I've seen it many times. E.g., charging people to cancel orders on their Amazon account, charging people to remove pop-up warnings.

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Thanks to the useful comments I think I have an idea of what was going on here. My thoughts are that the listing was made with such an outrageous reduction in price in order to generate a big number of sales from people trying to grab a bargain. The payment details weren't added, but if I didn't take notice that my account was being misused and the listing gained traction (making a fair amount of money), the hacker could have easily added them at a point they believed that they would be able to pull this scam off.

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