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This service can help you get your money back from online schemers

Not all internet peer-to-peer marketplaces are created equal. In some might be lurking would-be criminals looking to take advantage.

SAN ANTONIO — You can find anything on the internet. That can lead us to online peer-to-peer marketplaces. Yet, if you buy a big-ticket item like a car or home rental and it is not what you expected, you may not have much luck getting your money back.

It does not look like you are gambling when you buy from a peer-to-peer online marketplace, but you can bet the chances of losing your money are pretty high.

“I saw recent statistics which look at about 1.2 billion transactions on these social media sites,” said Michael Skiba, known as Dr. Fraud. “What they found was a surprising 50% had some degree of suspicion to them. About 25%, that’s about a quarter, of new accounts logins were almost completely fake. Consumers should be very, very, very cautious anytime they engage with any of these sites.”

Making it unlikely you will hit the jackpot with any expensive items you buy. You might never even get it. If you do:

“It could also be counterfeit or lesser degree than what was promised,” said Skiba. “This is very common the picture doesn’t really look like what they promised, whether it’s size, color, quality or even name brand.”

You are the loser with few ways to recoup the cost. Now there is a new way to get justice and your money back. GetDispute.com helps you take some schemers to small claims court.

“We basically help people file a real court case online in 10 minutes or less,” said Mayank Gupta, the CEO of GetDispute.com. “We handle all the paperwork, the logistics, the bureaucracy. You just have to tell us who it is you’re suing, how much you’re claiming and in a few sentences what happened. People don’t realize you don’t need a lawyer to actually get access to the legal system.”

One of most popular cases filed so far is from people who buy cars from a private party and never got the car or it was not as advertised. He said 70% of cases settle before going to court.

“What’s happening is the other side sees that you’re actually serious about going to court,” Gupta said. “They see you have an easy way to get into court and they just give up immediately.”

 It will cost you about $200 to file a case.

“The best part of it is, if you win your case, most of that money can actually be awarded back to you. The other person has to pay all of your costs,” said Gupta.

Finding the person who made the sale can be tricky. Gupta said the service also helps you locate the person that has your money.

“We run into the problem of how to find the person all the time. If you file the court paperwork, we will actually run a professional skip trace to locate the known addressed for the person to serve them with the court papers,” he said.

The person must be located within the U.S., though. Gupta also recommends saving all communication with the person who made the sale.

“Take screen shots of all the text messages, of the emails, of the Facebook message, all that stuff,” he said. “This is completely valid evidence.”

GetDispute.com is also creating an assisted buying program to help people handle online marketplace transactions to stop consumers from taking a gamble on high-cost items.

“Basically, you can get us to be your agent intermediating on the transaction. What we’ll do is verify who the seller is before ever sending the money,” said Gupta. “That prevents you from getting into a situation where you’ve given money to someone without knowing who they are and then they just disappear on you.”

Making that pricey purchase a much better bet.

If you have a question for Eyewitness Wants To Know, email us at EWTK@Kens5.com or call us as 210-377-8647.