In December 2009 I noticed Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended for auction on eBay. Many copies were on sale, and I followed a few auctions to discover they were trading for around $400 (usual retail is around $1000 - Australian.) Authenticity was guaranteed by the seller, and, though I had doubts as to the provenance of the software, I was new to eBay and decided that they would not permit the trade of any suspicious items on their site. Basically, in my view, eBay's name lent credence to the seller.
I won one of these auctions and the product duly arrived from Melbourne a week later. It was "Made in USA" and very professionally packaged - it looked like the real deal, replete with the training DVD. I installed it on a Windows 7 PC and, once I was happy it worked fine, I registered it - keyed in the serial number (got the usual green Adobe tick) and sent my details off to Adobe Systems in order to activate the product.
As it happens I am a member of Adobe dotcom; all registered Adobe products show in my webspace on their site. I noticed my new copy of Photoshop CS4 was not showing. Additionally, I tried to install PS on one of my personal laptops as the Adobe license permits a second installation on a home machine, provided one doesn't use the two installations simultaneously. I could not get the "green tick" for the second installation, basically the serial number (the same serial number) was deemed to be incorrect.
So I phoned Adobe Systems and quoted my serial number only to be told it was not one of theirs. I explained how it had installed fine, and worked just like the real thing : but they were adamant that I had been conned.
I have subsequently learned that software fraud on eBay is rife and feel rather silly that I - an avid Googler who checks almost everything before a purchase - had not simply Googled "software fraud on eBay" or "pirate software on eBay" prior to the purchase. Such a search gives thousands of unhappy returns; it irks me that I was taken in by eBay lending their name to the scam.
(Most people will be oblivious that they are running pirate software because the product will install with the keygen serial number - once. In the case of Photoshop, unless they have an Adobe user account, they would not be aware that Adobe Systems have no record of such a serial number. The programme will run indefinitely.)
I reported the matter to eBay and they urged me to deal with the seller. I tried contacting the seller without any luck (phone and email.) After some delay (because the seller was on holiday with my money and that of a hundred or more others) I went back to eBay and was then informed that my "45 day reporting window" had lapsed. They said I had to "file a complaint" within 45 days - I did report it 34 days after the purchase, they urged me to pursue it on my own, the magical 45 day mark was passed and they washed their hands of it.
So I was taken in by the seller, by eBay and by PayPal and I think it is an absolute disgrace. Later, while viewing the feedback comments of the seller, I notice at least 5 complaints about fraud, and in one case a complainant was refunded. This surely means eBay knew when I complained that I had a valid complaint and that dealing with the pirate was futile.
I will ultimately name and shame the seller, however the story is sub judice for now. So my message is to be very careful about buying software on auction sites like eBay. Always ask if the seller is an authorised agent/ distributor - and remember that if they are, the partnership logo will be proudly displayed along with their product.
Tags: "ebay fraud" "pirate photoshop" "software fraud on ebay" piracy paypal "adobe photoshop piracy" "ebay scam"