Tuesday, February 4, 2003


Once again I encountered a situation where the correct answer to a question was 42. A couple of years ago, I was one of Jay Nelson's 1,700 e-dupes. I received a check a few months later from Lloyds of London, which underwrites eBay's Fraud "Protection" Program. The reason for the scare quotes is that once you read the fine print, you'll see that their coverage is actually rather piddly. The fraud victim eats the first $25 of the purchase price, anything above $200, and all fraudulent shipping and handling charges. Doesn't that make you feel safe buying things from strangers on eBay?
Long story short, Nelson was caught last year and pleaded guilty. Last week, I received a letter from the U.S. Attorney asking if I had any remaining claims against Mr. Nelson that had not already been paid by third parties. After dusting off all the paperwork, I learned that I'd originally paid Mr. Nelson a total of $116, consisting of a "winning" bid of $99 for a nonexistent DVD player, plus shipping and handling charges of $17. That meant that all I got from Lloyds was $74, leaving the remaining claim at ... well, you know.

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