Mark Slater’s Weblog

Musings about work, life, and all things in between

EBay’s board and the fraud story

Image representing eBay as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

I had dinner with our good friends Dade and Rebecca this weekend and listened to a wonderful story about the power of the feedback loop. My friends are the proprietors and operators of a wonderful business called the white aisle. For anyone out there getting ready to take the walk, i highly recommend that you visit with them, they provide a wonderful service.

White aisle also happens to use the paypal payment platform along with millions of other online businesses. So it came as some surprise when their order book was hit with 10 orders in very quick succession, for product worth roughly $8 per order, and shipped to 10 different locations. The product ordered was pretty obscure and given that 90% of white aisle customers are – you guessed it – brides to be – the anomaly was amplified as all new orders came from males.

With the fraud sirens beginning to be heard, a closer look at the names of the individuals ordering really sealed the deal. It turns out that these fraudsters were using the names of some of America’s most prominent business people. Pierre Omidyar, William Ford Jnr, Fred Anderson, Scott Cook, and Marc Andreessen.. These people actually had the “nads” to use some of Ebay‘s(paypals owners) board members!

Fast forward an hour, and the fraud claim has now been submitted with PayPal’s Indian support center, who frankly don’t know what to do about it. Team White Aisle, now having spent a good 90 minutes of futility with Customer care decide to contact the culprits directly through the email addresses submitted with the orders…..

A somewhat perplexing response comes back from one of the culprits claiming that they are in fact “who they say they are” – and that the board of directors were being taken through a demonstration of the payment platform and were using an active partner – White Aisle for the demo. Rebecca of course calls bullshit on this and demands that they call her if they are who they say they are…….

the phone rings……..its the chief of staff of something or other from Ebay – calling on behalf of the members above and apologizing profusely for the inconvenience caused – in fact the board are having a ‘good old chuckle” at how this must have looked from whiteaisle’s point of view. Of course they are also somewhat perplexed at the 90 minutes spent on the phone with India – and as emails begin to trickle in from various corners of the planet in total panic, it begins to become clear that this outlandish “Ruse” may just be true, and the likes of Ford, Jnr, and marc Andreessen are ordering 8 wedding thank you cards!

Update: The story gets better – the good folks on the board of ebay have given White aisle some amazing ad placements as a token gesture for the inconvenience caused. D ade and Rebecca have been ‘amazed’ at how this has all been handled once it became apparent to the board that there was a “flustered customer” on the other end of their test.

Read Dade’s account of the events – complete with the emails here

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