Thursday, March 20, 2014

Statement Analysis and Ebay

Statement Analysis can be successfully applied to advertising, in general, but can be particularly effective in helping "thrifters" separate deception from truth.

Thrifting is popular today with consumers looking for quality items, used, or discounted, and ebay auction has become a major vehicle for thrifters to successfully obtain that which they seek.

This means that they must also be on their guard for false or misleading advertising, as well as "knock offs" of branded items.

One company, for example, located in China, was selling tools that regularly sell for over $100, for 90% off.

It was a scam.

They quickly "sold out" of the outrageously low priced items, and entered into the Ebay system a "tracking number" for USPS to track the package.

The package was tracked right to the point of delivery at the expectant home.

In the package was not the expected item, but a 'trinket' of sorts, including a "live strong" rubber bracket.

By the time the gig is up, Ebay closed them down, only to have the company open another account in another name, selling goods at decent prices, driving up the ratings for a few weeks or months, then to have another "90% off!" 'sale' for clients.

These clients thought it was too good to be true.

They were right.

Yet, due diligence showed that the company had a good rating for months, and in a few cases, years.

Caveat emptor.

Statement Analysis can help tip the scales in your favor, though it cannot do everything.

If you suspect fraud, write to the seller and express your concerns and use Statement Analysis on the reply.

You will reduce the odds of being a victim of deception.

What Statement Analysis Cannot Do

*Statement Analysis cannot discern between opinions.  That is, if one seller believes something is in EUC, that is, "Excellent Unused Condition", another might consider the same article to be in "Very Good" condition.

This is part of the seller's internal, personal, subjective dictionary.

If you wish to "de code" the seller's internal, personal, subjective dictionary, you must look at other sale items, and see what the seller considers "EUC" versus "Very Good"if the photographs help.  You may also read the reviews left for the seller, seeing if you can match up items that sold as "Very Good" versus "Like New" or "Near New" or "EUC."

*Statement Analysis cannot tell you if a person will follow through on the deal or not.

If Statement Analysis can see deception, it is only because the will is present:  intent to deceive.  Honest mistakes, for instance, are not intentionally deceptive.

*Statement Analysis cannot see "value." "Value" is simply what one is willing to pay for something.

*Statement Analysis could not help those in the Country-wide Lending Tree scandal where signatures were whited out or forged.  This is not an issue of analysis of a statement, but of outright fraud.

Statement Analysis works best with larger statements.

Even though we can apply the principles to small statements, the greater the sample from which to work, the greater the opportunity to learn truth from deception, as well as content analysis.

Statement Analysis and Disputes

Here, analysis can shine.

Let's say you purchased an item that was in "like new" condition only to find out it had a major problem and you write to the seller.  Statement Analysis can be used to measure the response of the Seller, to see if the Seller had prior knowledge to the issue.  The more the seller writes, the more likely we will know.

This can be especially helpful when a seller sells a "knock off", or fake item, as being real.  Did you ever notice how many will write, "100% Authentic!" in their ads?  This is often the case in designer items where fakes are plentiful.

Post some examples in the comments section and let us all take a look...

The First Step?

We must begin to get a "norm" for Ebay advertisers, so that we may see what is "expected" versus what is "unexpected."

In email responses from sellers, we are able to use the analysis principles that have served us well, yet again, setting emails as a norm.


LisaB said...

The photo is of a stone MUCH larger than 1 carat. The description discloses that the stone is Simulated, though the title implies it is a "diamond." The seller has a 99.3% positive feedback. The two negatives I saw related, in one case, to size of stone appearing larger in photo, and, in the other, "this looks like a CZ", which is obviously true. I am amazed that so many customers were satisfied with their purchases!

JoAnn said...

The ad reads :

Kooba Authentic leather shoulder bag

Kooba Authentic light brown/tan shoulder bag with zipper detail and snap closure, cloth interior with pockets and zipper pocket, shoulder strap is double strap with length adjuster studs. Original cloth dust cover is included with Kooba printed on it. perfect condition and new, purchased from Neiman Marcus.

The seller is telling us the bag is "Authentic leather," not authentic Kooba by the order of his words. He also says the cloth dust cover is included "with Kooba printed on it," not that it is a real Kooba dust cover.

Photos of the bag show a zipper pull that does not look like a Kooba zipper pull. The lettering on the dust cover looks wrong, the interlocking O's aren't quite right. This seller had a 98.1% satisfaction rate! but there were 3 negative ratings that refer to him as a "dishonest seller."

John Mc Gowan said...

JoAnn Said

Kooba Authentic light browntan shoulder bag with zipper detail and snap closure, cloth interior with pockets and zipper pocket, shoulder strap is double strap with length adjuster studs. Original cloth dust cover is included with Kooba printed on it. perfect condition and new, purchased from Neiman Marcus.


Given that these bags are, by all accounts expensive,the name should speak for its self. However they qualify it with the use of the word Authentic thus weakening the "Authenticity"

Original cloth dust cover is included with Kooba printed on it. Perfect condition and new purchased from Neiman Marcus.

Again there is no need to use the word Original, if they state its Kooba, then its Kooba.

Perfect condition and new,

Order is important. If it is new then it should be perfect.

JoAnn said...

Hi John,
The word "Authentic" with a designer name should be a red flag, yes? Like you said, the name should speak for itself.

John Mc Gowan said...

Authentic to original

Change in language.

Deception indicated.

JoAnn said...

After reading the Mark McClish books, I'm interested in further learning. I am considering the online course he offers. I also see that he is coming here for a seminar in April. Any recommendations as to the online course vs the seminar? On his website, he says the online training contains the same information he shares in the seminar. Advice would be welcomed! Thanks.

John Mc Gowan said...

Hi JoAnn,

This is the one Peter recommends.

SCAN by LSI, developed by Avinoam Sapir, is the most effective technique available for obtaining information and detecting deception from statements of witnesses or suspects. SCAN (sometimes known as Statement Analysis) is an essential tool for law enforcement personnel, investigators, social service personnel, and anyone else who needs to obtain information from written material. LSI provides SCAN training throughout the US and Canada, and also in Mexico, the UK, Israel, Australia, and other countries.

JoAnn said...

Thanks, John :)

John Mc Gowan said...


Almost 9 years after the fatal stabbing of his wife, Raven Abaroa is now taking a plea deal:

“I don’t think it’s worth risking the possibility of spending the rest of my life in prison for something I didn’t do. I take this plea to ensure that doesn't happen... And that’s the only reason. I didn’t kill my wife.”

First person singular.
Past tense.
Event specific.

Do you think he is guilty – or being wrongly accused? Let us know in the comments below and tune in to ABC 20/20 tomorrow for John Quinones’ report on the murder that shocked America.

This should be interesting to watch, to see how reliable his denial is.

Sus said...

An item cannot be a "percent authentic." Any qualifier to its authenticity is a red flag for me.

JoAnn said...

Re OT: Raven Abaroa

That will be interesting to watch. This case is local to me & the mistrial stirred up strong feelings in the community. There was no physical evidence tying him directly to the murder, but there was motive (he was in debt & there was a $500,000 insurance policy, he had an affair) and circumstantial evidence. After the mistrial, it was disclosed that a lone juror was the holdout for convicting him.

trishapatk said...

I don't think that the usual analysis applies to the descriptions provided by ebay sellers. They are aware of the fact that customers are on the lookout for fake or "in-authentic" merchandise. They are bending over backwards to make sure people know that it is the real thing. They are also not writers and they may put qualifiers or adjectives in the wrong place so that technically they've said something other than what they intended. I do technical editing and I am well aware of how people mix that up. It's very common. Examples like the "Kooba Authentic Leather Shoulder bag" are perfect, they simply stuck authentic in where it technically could mean only that it is authentic leather and they may have only done that because even brand names are sometimes made with "man-made leather" and they wanted to stress that this product, made by Kooba, is authentic leather.
I also sell on ebay so I know that the seller sometimes feels the need to spell things out for potential buyers and if you don't say it is authentic they will question it the same way that people who do amateur statement analysis ( us, here on this site) will question things.
Potential buyers are well aware of the fact that knockoffs exist and even though ebay tries to be helpful in keeping the site free from such goods they can probably seep in. How should a seller try to relay the information when their product is real? I know what we'd say in general but ebay is a little different.
I think that what is more interesting is the text that is put on health and beauty products. Those are done by professionals and they carefully word things so that what is implied is not actually said. I realize that some of the ebay sellers may be doing that but it seems as though the ones that are scammers aren't all that sophisticated about it and would be kicked off ebay as soon as it became apparent that they're not honest sellers.

Nic said...

Ebay is the epitome of "caveat emptor" (second time I've seen this today!). If it's too good to be true then it is. Anything from China over $25 (including shipping) I don't bother with and it's only if I really, really want/need it and there is no alternative. If I can't purchase using PayPal, (insured/dispute resolution protected) then forget it.

Before I was a seasoned on-line shopper, I was "ripped off" by a seller (not ebay) who only sent me one broken, battery operated sconce. (I didn't want to pay for an electrician to come in to wire two sconces in the dining room.) So after some research I found an on-line merchant who had what I wanted for only $29.99! (plus shipping).

I telephoned the merchant to advise them that they only sent me one sconce (a broken one at that). The customer service rep said that it was all she had left and that if I didn't like it to mail it back to her (at my expense) and then she would reimburse me. I asked her why she just didn't advise me via email that they were "out of stock". She said if I didn't like it I could mail it back to her (at my expense) and then she would reimburse me. Incredulously, I asked her who only uses "one" sconce? Again she repeated that if I didn't like it, I could mail it back to her at my expense and she would reimburse me. It was everything for me not to tell her to go stuff herself, so I hung up on her instead.

I went into my electronic receipt file and attempted to contact someone over her head to complain, but the contact information was limited to the telephone number I had already used. I referred to the address on the package itself and googled it hoping to get an alternative #. But the same site I ordered from came up. So I google mapped the address. (Businesses pop up in dedicated boxes with address, telephone numbers, street view. Funny (not) that I didn't think to do that first.) Anyway, it turned out that the address was a run down house in a not very pretty neighbourhood.

I couldn't get MasterCard to reverse the charges because she had a "return policy" (at my expense). I wasn't willing to pay *more* shipping and chance fighting with her some more to get my money back. So I ate the $29.99 plus shipping.

Caveat emptor, indeed

Tania Cadogan said...

off topic

The body of a New Jersey mother who vanished last month, after it was believed she left her home to buy medicine for her sick child, was discovered Wednesday and her husband charged in her murder, The Star-Ledger reported.

Karla Villagra-Garzon's body was found in an empty home in nearby Chatham Township, which is northwest of her home in Elizabeth. An autopsy determined that the cause of her death was from asphyxiation and blunt-force trauma, the report said. She disappeared on Feb. 23.

Villagra-Garzon's husband, Abayuba Rivas, 39, was charged with murder and other offenses, the paper reported. Rivas had been in custody for more than a week on other charges, including endangering a child. He also allegedly lied to police, the report said.

Rivas reported his wife missing the morning after he said she didn't return home.

The Star-Ledger reported that Rivas told police that his wife left the home to buy medication for their child, but surveillance video at the Walgreens shows that she never arrived that night.

Rivas was held on $2 million bail, the report said.

Tania Cadogan said...

Almost 9 years after the fatal stabbing of his wife, Raven Abaroa is now taking a plea deal:

“I don’t think it’s worth risking the possibility of spending the rest of my life in prison for something I didn’t do. I take this plea to ensure that doesn't happen... And that’s the only reason. I didn’t kill my wife.”

Unreliable denial.
Firstly an innocent person is not going to take a plea deal for something they didn't do. Why would they? They didn't do it and they are not going to do a deal and allow the real killer to run around free perhaps killing again.

I don't think leaves it open for others to think otherwise.
Third he distances himself from life in prison and also that being the only reason he is taking the deal.
He doesn't tell us another reason he is taking the deal is because he didn't kill his wife.

Look at it backwards.
A strong reliable denial is first person singular, past tense event specific.

Here his denial is at the end of his statement saying why he is taking a deal.
Surely it would be his first>
The charge is murder , if he didn't do it then it would be the first thing on his mind, here it is the last thing.

If you look at it backwards I didn’t kill my wife.” would be a strong reliable denial, then he said the following
“I don’t think it’s worth risking the possibility of spending the rest of my life in prison for something I didn’t do. I take this plea to ensure that doesn't happen... And that’s the only reason

He weakens his denial with the latter literally going outside the boundries of the question.
The only reason he tells us he is taking the deal is so he doesn't spend the rest of his life in prisin, Not that he didn't kill his wife.

Unknown said...

I don't do ebay, but I do notice things on advertisements/commercials that I wouldn't have before SA.

There is one commmercial for toothpaste that is a great example. It's a brunette giving a 'testimonial' about how pleased she is with her sensitivity/whitening toothpaste. (Aquafresh, I believe). She says several things about how wonderful the toothpaste is, and that she "truely, really, really, REALLY loves this toothpaste". Then she lists the benefits she has experienced, (paraphrased) "I just brush and I'm DONE, my mouth is fresh, my teeth are white, the sensitivity is gone...I would definitely recommend 'aquafresh ----".

Then her last line of the commercial is, "I'm definitely SWITCHING to aquafresh ----".

Doh, lol

JoAnn said...

I don't think I phrased correctly my comment about Raven Abaroa earlier. There was a mistrial. It was disclosed after the mistrial that a lone juror would not vote to convict him. The other jurors all thought he as guilty.

Anonymous said...


Jazzie said...
Posted on U4A:
Anon (Retired 30 yrs as LE) says:
September 18, 2012 at 4:50 pm
I’m trying to find the proper/polite words to answer your question without offending anyone, if I don’t succeed I apologize in advance.
In my opinon & my opinon only, I don’t think LE will find Ayla; but I think they have enough evidence to prove that Ayla is no longer with us & to bring the proper charges against those responsible. Its not going to happen tomorrow, theres still alot to do; but it will happen. jmo

Anon says:
September 18, 2012 at 5:17 pm
CG says:
September 18, 2012 at 5:01 pm
LE Anon, I was looking at an old news article from one of the Boston stations I believe. Just clarifying it’s not NG. Source seemed to be unnamed investigators and there was a reference to Justin leaving police stAtion when confronted with evidence someone tried to clean up blood and blood spatter. What kind of force is required for blood spAtter to occur and is a weapon necessary or could there be blood spAtter from an injury inflicted by human hands?
Hi CG – Out of respect for the families & fellow bloggers I don’t want to get too in depth with an answer; but it takes an OBJECT to cause blood splatter.
September 18, 2012 at 9:37 PM

John Mc Gowan said...

I agree Hobs, the denial would have been the first thing on my mind. It will be interesting to see though, if they show all his plea. That is, if this is not all of it?

Dacea said...

Hobs, this is one time I completely disagree with you. I am not saying he's not guilty, but people will and have take plea agreements when they are not guilty. If you study psychology at all, you will understand that people can confess to crimes they did not commit as well. The kid who testified against Ryan Ferguson and claimed they committed the murder is one such example.

Tania Cadogan said...

Hi Dacea

Dacea said...
Hobs, this is one time I completely disagree with you. I am not saying he's not guilty, but people will and have take plea agreements when they are not guilty. If you study psychology at all, you will understand that people can confess to crimes they did not commit as well. The kid who testified against Ryan Ferguson and claimed they committed the murder is one such example.

If he did not commit the crime then he would indicate for a false confession.
Statement analysis reveals the truth whether the person is being honest or deceptive, the same for a confession. it will reveal if the confession is genuine ie the subject did what was claimed, or they will show as deceptive ie they did not do what they are claimed to have confessed to.

In this case, if this is a genuine statement then he indicates deception. The priorty is all backwards.
If he did not do it then he would fight all the way through the courts regardless of the sentence, innocent people will not admit to something they didn't do ( exceptions do occur with those with mental health issues who would confess to creating the garden of eden and those who are coerced by LE.)

In his case the only reason he tells us he is doing a deal is so he doesn't face a life sentence.

He doesn't tell us the only reason he is doing a deal is because he didn't kill his wife and if he can't say it i can't say it for him.

Notice his priority for the deal

Most important is he doesn't want a life sentence, last is he didn't kill his wife.

As i explained a strong denial is first person singular past tense event specific. Anything other than that is unreliable.

I take this plea to ensure that doesn't happen... And that’s the only reason. I didn’t kill my wife.”
There is an ellipsis so something is missing, i would like to know what was said.
And indicates missing information.

If he was asked something between the only reason and i didn't kill my wife. i want to know.

As it stands he killed her and the only reason he is doing a deal is so he doesn't do life in jail.
Notice the distancing between life in jail and killing his wife.
His priority is himself not doing life from a crime he claims he didn't do and the last thing on his mind is his wife. it's backwards.
The expected is i didn't kill my wife. then the next question which would likely be why are you taking a deal then?
To which his reply would then be because he doesn't want to face life in jail.

His statement is unreliable.

No attorney is going to tell their client do a deal when they didn't do a crime, they are going to advise them fight it and let the jury decide, If you didn't do it then the evidence will show you didn't, you couldn't etc.

The only way an attorney will say do a deal is if there is enough evidence to convict their client.. The attorney will also likely have polygraphed their client to see what they have to say and to guide their defence.

Do we know if he took a poly and the result?
Do we have any other statements?

Doty said...

Hobs, i, too, must disagree with your assertion that innocent people wouldn't take a plea deal. Innocent people can and do take plea deals. Especially if they have court appointed lawyers.
I have young children. If I were arrested, then offered a plea deal for say 6 months in jail and 6 years probation vs. Going to trial and risking 6 years (or more), I would take it despite my innocence if my lawyer advised me to take it. Yea, people would hate me and my reputation destroyed, but I would be guaranteed a result that wouldn't leave my children motherless. I'd be doing it for them/us. Now, if I didn't hhhave as much to lose perhaps I'd role the dice on a trial.

Doty said...

Hobs, All I can say is Wow. I am shocked that you think a lawyer wouldn't advise a plea to an innocent client. I have read your posts for a long time. I always found your comments intelligent and thoughtful. I would never have guessed you would hold these opinions about our legal system ( note that I do not call it our justice system because too often there is no justice). Here's an old joke for you that lawyers tell--What do you call a prosecuting attorney who lies? Answer--Your Honor. The real world falls sadly short of ideals such as Atticus Fitch. When I found out how the system really works I was Disillusioned. Disgusted. Angry.

Tania Cadogan said...

Hi Doty.

Why would you take a plea deal for a crime you didn't commit knowing the effect it would have on your family, your friends perhaps even employment etc when you know you didn't commit the crime?

Why would you take a deal knowing that by doing so the real culprit is running around free and could in all likelihood commit further crimes?

Would you do it if charged with murder?
Would you do it if charged with child sex abuse?
Is there any crime you would not confess to?
if so what crime and why?

Why would you plead guilty to a crime you didn't do knowing you would be separated from your children and could risk losing them completely?

Do you admit you did it to every allegation of crime no matter how trivial?

Wouldn't you rather go to court and know that the evidence they present will not show your guilt since you didn't commit the crime and will end up back with your young children?
If you didn't do it then evidence cannot show you did, it would be circumstantial at best and not enough to prove guilt beyond all reasonable doubt.

If you still say you would do a plea deal for a crime you didn't commit, can i expect to see you claiming guilt and a plea deal for every missing child case, for the murder of Caylee Anthony, Lisa Irwin, Dylan Redwin, Madeleine McCann, Jonbenet Ramsey, Ayla Reynolds, Hailey Dunn, Haileigh Cummings,travis Alexander plus all the rest?

Doty said...

Dacea That Ferguson case--omg what a travesty of justice.
When my son was 8 I was convinced he did something wrong. I questioned him repeatedly and he finally confessed. One day later his sister confessed that it was really her who did it. I asked my son, Why did you say you did it when you didn't? He said it was so I would stop being so mad at him. My poor boy! I had coerced a false confession. It was one of my most "I am such a bad mother" days.
We laugh about t now, but it was a good lesson for me. Vulnerable people can be maniulated into confessing.
I teach my children to NOT talk to police, except to say I want my mother and I want a lawyer.

Doty said...

Hobs Don't reducio ad absurdum me!
Murder? Maybe. For example, I'm innocent. arrested.can't afford bail. Wait in jail 2 years for trial. Convicted. 2 years later overturned and remanded for new trial. Still in jail. 1 year more and right before trial offered plea and promised 5 years. since I already served 5 years that means I'd go home that day. YES I'll take the plea.
Remember, the judge or jury decides what the evidence shows. That's a risk. You have to decide how big a risk and weigh that against the plea. I've seen people turn down a 2 year plea because they are innocent only to get convicted and be sentenced to 15 years.

Doty said...

Sometimes a look back at history is informative.
USA 1692. Accused and arrested for witchcraft. Confess and live, or Deny and Die. Which would you choose?
(Question presuposes you are innocent)

Statement Analysis Blog said...

A step back in history would be interesting to view the transcripts and testimony.

Mischiever said...

I am an online seller. I sell primarily on Amazon now but started on eBay selling dvds and video games. Where dvds were concerned, I would estimate 75-90% of my competitors were selling counterfeits or bootlegs as they are usually referred to.

The word authentic is not a qualifier. It is a descriptor. The least a seller selling authentic products in a category dominated by counterfeits should do is state that their product is authentic. That is just a start. You have to then show the buyer that it is authentic through pictures and your description.

For example, the majority of bootleg dvds come from China. They are region 0 and have Chinese/Thai subtitles. Authentic USA/Canada dvds are region 1 with English/Spanish subtitles. I always stated that the dvd I was selling was an authentic, region 1 dvd with English/Spanish subtitles. I photographed the front and back of the dvd so the buyer could see this on the dvd itself.

The reality is the majority of dvd buyers didn’t care if the dvd was authentic or not. They just wanted a cheap dvd that worked. I was not writing my auction for those buyers. I was writing auctions for buyers looking for authentic product in a sea of counterfeits.

There are 3 categories of scammers on eBay. Those selling counterfeits is one. The 2nd is sellers selling authentic product but acquiring it through illegal means. An example of this is acquiring merchandise from boosters (professional shoplifters). These are the hardest to spot.

3rd are the scammers not selling what they say they are. They just want to take the money and run. An example of this in a listing might be something like this “I am selling an XBOX One box”. This person is going to send an empty XBOX One box. When the buyer complains, the seller says “I told you it was a box.”