Stop Delivery


A few weeks ago I joined eBay in order to list a couple cameras and a bunch of accessories. Within minutes one of my cameras sold to a buyer in France. I was excited but thought it was strange how quickly someone actually saw the posting and decided to click the "buy now" button. I accepted the sale and received notification that the funds were about to transfer into my PayPal account and that all I needed to do was ship the package.

I sent out the package to the address on the notification which was different than the location in France in listed on the buyer's profile. I didn't think much of it. I even rolled with the fact that the new shipment location was in Nigeria.

Once I dropped off the box at the post office I entered the tracking number into the transaction listing on my eBay dashboard. My email inbox was pinged with another notification, this time from PayPal saying funds would be sent once the package made it through several delivery checkpoints and that delayed payment was to be expected. I knew this was wrong. I checked that email on my phone but double-checked it on my Mac at home where I could see that it was so absolutely phony, so glaringly, so shamefully fake. I had caught this one but the previous emails made it straight through me.

I spent the rest of the evening and the next day trying to get the package back. Of course I sent the package express like the buyer asked me to do which made it nearly impossible to stop shipment. I watched the camera move from Ann Arbor to Detroit to Chicago and then... Dubai. None of my tactics, none of my countless phone calls to eBay, USPS, or airports prevented the package from leaving the United States.

The package quickly left Dubai and straight into Lagos State, Nigeria. It went out for local delivery in Agege, the destination city, but was returned to the local post office the same day. Missed delivery. There it sat, in that post office for days. A coworker from Cameroon helped me call the local post office but we never connected with anyone. I even emailed that post office but never heard anything back.

After multiple days of inactivity, the status of the shipment changed from "awaiting pickup at local post office" to "preparing for shipment." Within a day or two an email from a Yahoo address showed up with subject line "ITEM RETURNED TO SEND" and a message that read "The item has been stopped and return to sender."

Something had worked. Within a week, the package was back on my doorstep in Ypsilanti. The box was beat all to hell and covered in Nigerian postal tape and red marker saying "Stop Delivery." I'm not sure I'll ever know why it was returned, or rather, why it wasn't accepted, so nothing about this process is repeatable and I can't give any great advice on how to wiggle out of an eBay scam after you've fallen for it. Unsuccessful for the scammer, but somehow successful for me, other than burning $90 to expedite the damn thing to Nigeria.