eBay Shopper Says He Was Harassed By Seller

CSU Student Wants To Return Bike, Gets Recorded Threats

When Tyler Blackwelder decided to buy his girlfriend a bike on eBay, he never thought it would end with death threats and obscene messages, but he said what he learned should be a warning for others who shop on-line.

Blackwelder, a graduate student at Colorado State University, had bought a bike before on eBay after he decided to take up road biking.

“It was new, fast, perfect. It was exactly what I wanted,” he said.

Happy with his success, he started looking for a bike for his girlfriend and found one listed for $200 from a seller in Arizona.

“We thought that one looked good because it said ‘brand-new,’ ‘spotless,’ and ‘perfect paint,’” he said. “But when it came, it was definitely not like that.”

When it came, Blackwelder said, there was a shattered reflector, scratches all over the frame and rocks in the treads.

“It was clearly, clearly not brand new. ... All I wanted was to get my money back and to get a different bike,” he said.

He went to eBay and PayPal to file a dispute and got his money back, but that is when he said the phone messages from the seller began.

The first message he saved on his voicemail: “Don’t you play games with me, goddamn you. I’ll follow you to your grave.”

Then, after Blackwelder gave the seller negative feedback on eBay, writing “seller threatened my life,” he got another message.

“My feedback went from 100 percent and went down,” the person leaving the message said. “Do you have any idea in hell what that means for you asshole? Do you have any idea? The rest of your life, you’re f-----.”

Blackwelder said at first he thought the messages were funny, but then felt concerned about his safety, especially following recent reports of criminals finding victims on other sites.

“I can’t tell if this guy is a lunatic or if he really wants to come up here and try to set me straight or something,” said Blackwelder.

So, he said he went to Ft. Collins police twice, but they told him it wasn’t a criminal matter.

7 News asked Ft. Collins police why no action had been taken.

“I’ve been told that he did not make a report at the Ft. Collins police department regarding that matter,” said Detective Rex Steele, with the Ft. Collins Police financial crimes unit.

He said he did not handle the case and couldn’t comment on the specifics, but he said it is not uncommon to hear about on-line threats or fraud.

“The vast majority of on-line business is successful,” he said, “Any time you do an on-line transaction, you do run the risk of becoming a victim.”

Meanwhile, Tyler Blackwelder kept looking for help, finally contacting Colorado State University Police.

“He knew everything about me,” said Blackwelder. “My phone number, my address, my name. ... It’s a little scary.”

A University spokeswoman said a detective called and left a message for the seller.

Blackwelder said since then, the phone calls have stopped.

“I won’t buy off eBay anymore, unless it’s from a company. I’m not going to buy from the individual anymore," said Blackwelder.

Blackwelder said he believes that eBay gave the seller his phone number, but an eBay spokeswoman said the company never provides phone numbers during the dispute process.

She also said that E-Bay is making changes in how it resolves disputes, planning to take a more active role in the coming months.

7 News also contacted the seller in Arizona.

He told us with his military background, he’s turned “punks” into “young men” with discipline, but that it was never his intention to threaten Blackwelder.

Ft. Collins police said to be safer shopping on-line, buy locally for face-to-face transactions.

But make sure they are in a safe location, with other people around.

If you buy from an unknown seller, give as little personal information as possible and ship items to a post office box or third party.

  • For tips on buying and selling items safely online, visit eBay.
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