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More cyber-beggars this Christmas

More cyber-beggars this Christmas



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SALT LAKE CITY -- More people are turning to eBay with sob stories of their Christmas woes. They hope to get people to donate some holiday cash on the auction website.

One posting says: "Please buy this to help out a family of four in need;" another shows a forlorn, shabby Christmas tree. Tech and marketing expert David Politis, with Politis Communications, says they are using eBay instead of other websites because practically everybody goes on eBay.

"So, the possibility of finding someone and saying, ‘Oh, my heart is softened. I'll pay a dollar, $10, $50 for this item' -- that's what they are hoping will happen," Politis says.

But he says it's actually a violation of eBay's terms of service.

"You're supposed to sell something, so most of these individuals are getting around that by saying you can buy this item for a penny and hoping that people will pay more," Politis says. "As a result, they'll come out ahead."

And you have no idea if that person who is panhandling online is a scammer.

"It's very easy to go and snag a photo of a forlorn-looking Christmas tree, put it up on eBay, write this story that says: 'Oh we're having a terrible time. We're down on our luck. Please help us out,'" Politis says.

He suggests people donate to a legitimate charity instead.

E-mail: mrichards@ksl.com

Mary Richards

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