Allegedly Caught Cheating Will NOT Be Tolerated

Have you bid on Have your experiences been similar to those of one of our readers?

Unfortunately it looks like his concerns may be well founded,  read about his experiences and then our findings below.

“I have been visiting you guys for quite a while now, and finally decided to sign myself up! It’s great and friendly here from what I see so far.

Anyways, I come to you right now with some news that disappoints and angers me very much. There is a site called:

I ran into them today and realised all their ended auctions going for so cheap. Up to 95% of them went for under $0.50, including higher expensive items. So I figured they were just like any other auction site who put up great prizes but just failed to gain popularity, thus meaning the auctions end very cheap.

So I decided to give it a try and bought over 400 bids which cost me over $300. I spent every single one of my bids without winning a single thing. I have been bidding on many auction sites for a while now, and this one is a HUGE RED FLAG and now that I think of it, I should have noticed it right from the beginning because now I am paying for it big time.

As you will see, my name “dontwasteyourbid” on 4 different auctions.

1. Coach Signature Lemon Wallet

2. Canon PowerShot SX120 IS Digital Camera

3. Nikon CoolPix S8000 Digital Camera

4. The 200 Bid Pack

It doesn’t take a genius nor a scientist to realise that I have been scammed of my money right before my eyes. How do 95% of their auctions go for under 50 cents, yet the ones I bid on just to happen to end at $2.00-$4.00. The funnier part is how they make it so obvious whereas, the auctions literally ended right after I ran out of bids.

PAW, you need to do something about this, and let the rest of the penny auction users to STAY AWAY from this site!! You guys have the power and you have the loudest voice. If we want the penny auction industry to stay alive, we need to eliminate these scammers, because they make the legit ones look bad!

I just received an email from them, and look at this one line they had to say:

“Again, I am sorry you were not successful tonight. I have refunded your final bid purchase of $56.25 and have closed your account with us.”

Any site who is legit, would not refund any bid purchases and any site who wants their users to stay on with them to spend more money would encourage them to come back in any way possible. I also never asked them to close my account either, and they told me that they just closed it. This site needs to be stopped!!”

Now, this reader (along with a few of our forum members (thank you!) ) asked that we look into so we did, and what we found out is very disconcerting.

We contacted Bidfireworks’ script developer/ ex-web hosting provider, Jeremiah from He has sent us some very interesting information.

Based on the fact that Bidfireworks is now being exposed by the very person that helped them build the site and provided them with hosting. This information was sent to some of the then KEY PAW whistleblowers when it was found back in March, instead of posting what they knew and exposing Bidfireworks, they opted to shoot the messenger (Jeremiah) and said that his site was suspect, along with others using his script. Jeremiah sent us a video to confirm that there is no “automated” way for a site owner to do this type of activity with his script: Click to See video.

Jeremiah tells us,

“They are allowed via the control panel to give users bids, and that feature is there to allow prize winnings and things like that to be distributed, as well as the crediting of bids for voided auctions.  It’s purpose was never to allow a system owner to take this course of action.  But given the circumstances, you can put as many safety’s in place and write the script in any fashion you choose, a scam system owner will find a way to make a scam. When the information was originally found, thier site was paused on my server and it was requested that they find new hosting.  After they found new hosting, thier site was put on a back burner so to speak to try and keep thier site offline while trying to get this information out to users.  Unfortunately, at the same time my site fell under suspicion and I had to focus on that and could not complete the information gathering that was needed to expose them properly.”

Jeremiah sent us screenshots of the login/ log out tables of Bidfireworks’ database that he had backups of- they show multiple users from multiple ip’s some

logging in right after eachother others farther apart – “but we know she is on dialup so this
would indicate that she was logging in – placing bids and logging out:”

The following are stitched together to make a panoramic view of some of the user accounts
pay close attention to the ones where the passwords are the same (highlighted).
Then, in the last image, look at the ones Jeremiah left the passwords exposed – read the password backwards and
you get the username:

Here are just a few (there are more) of the auctions where we found the above suspected bidders bidding

(luv2teach, gimmeit, cheers2u, delightful, mentalist, oldBIDe, galileo, bdavis, pennyless, megaforce, rodeodrive – note all had passwords that were their names backwards), these are not test auctions! Though a few of these users did bid on test auctions.

Now the following screenshots show the Bid Account bid credit history in the database– from the login screenshots and the above screenshots you can kind of draw your own conclusions. These show the Bid Account bid credit history in the database. The user is on the same IP as about 10 other accounts and has no information in the database, their passwords are very similar in design to someone else’s (backwards name). Note: AD means Admin Credit.

The last page, See recharge type, is what the database looks like when someone actually PAYS for bids. AD would be admin credit and AF would be a referred person bought bids.
These next  screenshots are the won auctions table of the database – “as someone who has run an auction for the past 7 or so months I find it very interesting that of 150 auctions on her site only about 28 were accepted and paid for [at the time of this database backup]- the rest – either got denied or had no response what so ever and went past thier accept time period. So either she has some really lousy product over there that noone really wants – or she is using the denied method to keep it out of the invoice list in the admin panel so that she does not have to see them there and can better track her “real” sales. “-Jeremiah
Since the user is on the same IP as about 10 other accounts and has no information in the database, their password is very similar in design to someone else’s (backwords name) you draw your own conclusion when you find out that the AD means admin credit.
Next, take a look at the e-mail correspondence between Jeremiah and Bidfireworks’ owner that pertain to this issue:

“BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE – I highlighted a section in that for a reason.  It’s funny but there is nothing in the TOU on their site that I can find that would prohibit the employee’s of bidfireworks or any of her family from bidding – so I guess that this is all a matter of how you look at it but – should her employee’s really be bidding on her auction site?
I checked a few of the accounts from the previous pictures – they are still active and have the same passwords (the shill accounts) – who knows how many more of them have been setup since then.  Who knows how much money has been taken from people by her for this auction site.”
******HIS MESSAGE TO HER******
I looked into the log in log out table and maybe it was just a connection issue.  BUT one thing that did strike me as very odd is that you have allot of users that are logging in from the SAME IP address.  These connections seem to be sequential like user logs in then logs out – next user logs in and logs out then next user logs in and logs out – All within a few minutes of eachother. Several user accounts and several IP addresses but same accounts are scattered around like either a dial-up or wireless connection.  You may want to check into that since you give away free bids and have win limits it may be that someone is trying to avoid the win limits and get more free bids.******END HIS MESSAGE TO HER******

“Now from that you can gather where I am going – Not really prodding her and calling her a shill, just wanted to see what she would say.”
*****HER RESPONSE********

As for some users using the same IP address, I have 2 businesses that have a few employees and are bidding from a work computer, 2 households with 3 users due to exceptional circumstances (parent moved in) (child away at college during the week) (only one user got free bids), and one group of 6 that travel and use the same mobile connection when they bid. That may have been what you saw when you were checking things out. I am watching these groups closely to be sure they are not working together on bidding. So far they seem to be bidding on separate items but mostly use the bidbuddy because of their work schedules.I will keep an eye out and thank you for the heads up.

******END HER RESPONSE*******
Now as we read through that it does seem a little like a completely legit response and that it is completely possible.  However then you remember that we had all those admin bids being credited to those accounts.  And they are cross connected through IP’s so that it is not seperate groups but all one large group (you kinda have to play connect the dots to get them all).  Then we have the auctions that never got accepted or paid for and i’m pretty sure they weren’t shipped either.

Ok, now back to the auctions that our reader was bidding on and lost, we now  believe that our reader’s suspicions were correct, he very well could have been bid against by shill bidders, in our opinion based on these findings we think he was and he deserves a full refund of all bids purchased! For instance, all of the winners that won after he quit bidding’s passwords are their usernames backwards. Wow, how could this be?

  • Grannynora won Auction 590- Nikon Coolpix – Grannynora’s password just happens to be her username backwards! grannynora – password is aronynnarg
  • Bobbieann, she won the Coach Signature Lemon Wallet, similarly, her password is her name backwards: bobbieann – password is nnaeibbob
  • And finally, onlythebest, who won both the Canon Powershot and the 200 bids bidpack’s password is the username backwards: onlytehbest!

Notice that they currently have a large sum of bids in their accounts and also that they have not accepted their wins:

Take a look now at a normal users’ account, see how their bids are displayed when they pay for them? Bobbieann, OnlytheBest and GrannyNora’s bids show up as “b” & “bids” as the only description.

In Conclusion, we found that has:
  1. Multiple users with passwords that are the reverse of their usernames,
  2. Some users that received free bids from the admin, they didn’t pay for their bids,
  3. Many users with the same IP address,
  4. And finally, multiple users that did not accept/pay for their wins.
Why is any of this important? Ok, we’ve said this before, penny auctions are out there advertising that users can get items for pennies, less than retail, etc, and sometimes bidders can, but what about the times where the site owner is bidding against the bidders that pay per bid? Is this an undisclosed reserve or are they just trying to meet their margins before they let the item go? Are they even letting items go? We know that at least one shady site owner admitting to only shipping 1 item out ever. Irregardless, we don’t see shill bidding as an ethical business practice, especially when the site owner/employees are not paying per bid to bid against the bidders that are.
What do you think? Did you bid on Bidfireworks?
Creative Commons License photo credit: srivera

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4 comments… add one
  • iwontgiveup June 17, 2010, 11:20 am

    Very well put! Another helpful story from PAW! Keep up the great work!

  • iwontgiveup June 18, 2010, 7:06 am

    Apparently she's a teacher in Colorado. Will look into this more.

  • Jonathan Smith September 8, 2010, 6:23 pm

    I am very happy to read this story that took me nearly 30 min to read and to put together. This is some great work. People like here do not even deserve an internet connection at all. I think people like her make it hard for people like me, swoopo, and other auction sites out there to even profit from. This is not legal and not fair to the honest people just trying to score a good deal. They advertise these good deals then take them for everything they have. WOMAN HOW CAN YOU SLEEP AT NIGHT? I could not sleep if that were me. I guess since I was raised in church and taught the right way to live, I am not sure how people can do this and be satisfied with themselves.

    My site is vowed to be legit and never to use any illegal practices. We want our users to return and not spread the word on how bad we are and word travels fast let me tell you!


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