HELP! Knotty eBay Problem

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
...and all my web searching indicates eBay are a bunch of ****** incapable of / unwilling to resolve anything.

I have several email accounts (doesn't everyone?), one if my secondaries is xxx.yyy@gmail.com (not literally!). Over the last few days I have received eBay messages on that account, the first welcoming somebody called Kurt Jonsson to eBay, and then two regarding purchases (delivery address Sweden).

The trick appears to be that this person has used xxxyyy@gmail.com (note: without the dot) and Gmail does not seem to recognise the dot.

I can't decide whether this is an innocent mistake or some kind of deliberate deception, or figure out a way to deal with it (since eBay are to all intents and purposes uncontactable). I do not have an eBay account registered to that email address, or PayPal, so I don't see how this could affect me directly, but it is possible I will get irate emails from a seller who has not received payment.
 
OP
Black Hole

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
I don't see how it can be. More likely the purchaser will avoid payment and it's me that gets the flack. Anyhow, I found a live chat via the "forgot password" link, redacted transcript as follows:
John Michael P.
Hello! thank you for contacting ebay chat support. My name is Michael. Can I get your full name please?
eBay_Guest
Sorry, my chat session terminate for some reason. My name is xxx, but I have been receiving eBay emails for someone called Kurt Jonsson.
John Michael P.
Okay xxx, can you provide more details about the email your recieving?
eBay_Guest
User ID kur.jonss, "welcome" and purchase emails to xxxyyy@gmail.com, I have xxx.yyy@gmail.com but as Gmail ignores the dot I get the emails. I don't understand how Kurt could have completed eBay registration on those credentials, or why I didn't see the email traffic. I am worried there is some kind of fraud going on.
John Michael P.
Okay let me check what I can do for you please stay on the line for a minute or tow.
John Michael P.
Still looking on my resources
John Michael P.
When did you actually recieved the email? was it sent to your personal email account?
eBay_Guest
Like I said: addressed to xxxyyy.gmail.com, but received at xxx.yyy@gmail.com (which is one of my email accounts). I can't tell you exactly when without navigating away from this chat session, which I suspect will terminate it, but the first was a " Welcome to eBay" immediately followed by a purchase, and then yesterday a dispatched notice. The delivery address is Sweden.
John Michael P.
It seems like your recieving a suspiciuos email. Please do read the articles in the link provided to secure your account.
John Michael P.
http://pages.ebay.ph/help/account/securing-account.html
John Michael P.
I apologize for this inconvenience but please know that chat support is limited to certain scopes. We will gladly resolve your issue by calling us at 866-540-3229.
eBay_Guest
It's not my issue, it's yours. I am not liable for any fraud committed by this mechanism, and I am not going to spend time and money on the phone to you. eBay must consider themselves notified of this potential fraud, and if they fail to take any action will be liable for any losses incurred. I have my own eBay account, on a different email and user ID, and it is secure.
John Michael P.
I really understand how frustrating it is, but we are only trained to assist member for password reset, that is why I'm suggesting you to call our phone support for they are the ones best to handle this kind of issue.
eBay_Guest
I do not recognise that phone number as UK. Do you have a free UK number? Otherwise they should call me.
John Michael P.
Ok let me check.
eBay_Guest
I will reset the password on the kur.jonss account, hopefully that will prevent any further misuse.
John Michael P.
1 (866) 540-3229 you might want to try this contact here.
John Michael P.
Its a toll free number.
eBay_Guest
Thanks. I guess you've done what you can.
John Michael P.
Thank you for staying connected with us
John Michael P.
is there other concerns you need me to address?
eBay_Guest
No, I'll try to kill that account and contact your phone people if there are any further problems. Bye.
John Michael P.
Thank you for partnering with me to resolve your concerns.Please dont hesitate to contact us with any further questions. Thank you for contacting Ebay Chat support.
 

BMAX

Member
I had a similar experience with Amazon, several parcels delivered to someone in France and e-mails to my address advising of said deliveries. As nothing was charged to my account, I was not too bothered, but spend several days wading through treacle trying to get some attention from Amazon, with little result. I continued to get frequent e-mails from Amazon France, advising of special offers, despite several attempts to get them stopped.
 
OP
Black Hole

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
I have taken over the account and sent a message to the seller explaining. I will send a note in the post to Kurt in case it was an innocent mistake.
 
OP
Black Hole

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
Well now...

All very weird. Kurt responded to my letter purporting to be an elderly user, apologising for any problems and assuring it was an innocent mistake. Certainly I still have not worked out what the angle could have been.

According to stuff found on the Internet, Google are in total denial that anyone can register an address which is synonymous with an existing account - and I could not do it when I tried - but there are many reports of exactly that which Google dismiss as somebody making a typo. That could happen: you mistype when entering your desired address and think you have registered it but actually have registered a different one, but I'm not sure it would account (statistically) for all occurrences. Potentially a bug in Google's code could let through a synonym under certain specific circumstances.

In various reported cases Google have asked for proof and I am not clear anyone has come up with any. I asked Kurt to send me an email from the synonymous account, but he said he couldn't because he had registered it for temporary use and deleted it. Why would you delete it before receiving your goods? I think what has happened is he can't access the account because the one he registered had a typo and he was actually trying to log in to mine.

So, fundamentally, the real problem boils down to eBay not sending a test message in the process of opening an account to ensure the email address supplied actually belongs to that person (this would also need to be done when changing an email address too). Too bad eBay!
 
OP
Black Hole

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
Stop press...

After some hunting I found a way to send a message to eBay in the form of a suggestion box. I told them that they need to test email addresses to verify them, and they have responded acknowledging the suggestion!
 

MontysEvilTwin

Well-Known Member
Similar to BH's situation, I have a gmail address which is of the following format: forename.surname@gmail.com. I sometimes get e-mails, from several different senders, for someone who has a similar e-mail address (forenamesurname@gmail.com). Acccording to Google it is not possible for someone else to register such a similar e-mail address to mine. So either the homonymous gmail user sometimes gets his e-mail address wrong on website forms or Google are being economical with the truth. Either way, why does e-mail for a different address to mine get routed to me?

I registered my gmail address in 2005 (I think). In any case gmail had not been going long. I wonder if Google's security protocols were less robust back then?

BTW the forum has created links for the simulated e-mail addresses above. If you send an e-mail to either, I wonder where it will go?
 
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Ezra Pound

Well-Known Member
Isn't this a Gmail problem?, forename.surname is not the same as forenamesurname and should not be treated the same, end of story
 
OP
Black Hole

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
If you read the documentation, Google Mail specifically ignores the dots so that it should not be possible for anyone to register an account that appears to be somebody else. Consequently a user can put a variety of dots in their email address when registering for various forums, services, etc and use them to filter incoming traffic, or to appear to have different email addresses so that you can register more than once.

They also say that they treat similar looking numbers and letters as the same (I have not tried it). The registration for a new email address is very strict on what characters other than letters and numbers can be used. When using (not registering) a Google Mail address, apparently you can add "+" and then whatever you like, anything after (and including) the + will be ignored and can again be used for filtering (and identifying who is selling on email addresses to spammers).

@MET: If you can provide an email with full headers that originated in one synonymous (all right - homonymous) email account and arrived in another, thus proving the two exist separately, Google will be astounded.
 

MontysEvilTwin

Well-Known Member
@BH. I sometimes get e-mails from websites and stores in the US I have never used, sent to the 'forenamesurname' address. This could just be someone with a similar e-mail address (but different enough to be acceptable to Google) who has made a mistake filling in a form. I have sent an e-mail to the 'forenamesurname' address to see if it comes back to me or I get a reply.

Edit. The e-mail came straight back to me. I tried to login, supplying the 'forenamesurname' address as the login account and succeeded: I got taken to my account 'forename.surname'. So the unsolicited emails I get are probably due to a mistake by a human. It could also be spam, with the e-mail address guessed by a bot.
 
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Trev

The Dumb One
It is a known way in to your email account. Once you fall for 'login or loose your account' fishing wail, they then create another email address on your account which you may not realise isn't your email address . They can now logon to your aCCOUNT USING THEIR EMAIL AND PASSWORD ANn SEND SPAM FROM YOU BY USING YOUR REAL EMAIL ADDRESS AS THE DEFAULT SENDER (sorry about the caps, but I ain't goin' to edit it) that send spam emails that are coming from you. I am speaking from second hand experience here, as my son spammed a load of people and that's how they did it with his./ he didn't have the forename.surname type internet address so they just put an extra 's' in it. Logon to your account and look for the second incorrect logon and delete it and change your password.
 
OP
Black Hole

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
I just ran a test and discovered that eBay send a confirmation link if you try to change your email address - just not when you initially submit an email address (although they may test it is a valid address). I successfully created a new account with another synonym of the email address in question, and the account is now live without any confirmation that the email actually belongs to me.
 
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