The Power of Google

It’s not even 8 am, and I feel like I’ve lived through a whole soap opera already this morning.

I sold a vintage perfume set overnight on eBay, and when I logged on this morning, I had a nice message from the buyer, a chap in Australia, asking me to hold off posting it until next month as it’s a birthday present for his elderly mother who lives in a care home in Plymouth – apparently it was her favourite perfume and she hasn’t been able to get hold of it for years.

Obviously I sent a message back saying that was fine, and offered to giftwrap it for him and enclose a card if he’d like me to.

As I was filing away the various emails into my ‘action later’ file, I glanced at the address, as I was mildly interested to know whereabouts in Australia he lived. I noticed that although the Paypal address was for a Plymouth care home (as he’d mentioned in his email), the eBay account address was in a completely different name, followed by a prisoner number and a UK HMP prison address.

My interest was now thoroughly piqued. So I did some googling. Within less than 10 minutes, I’d discovered the following.

  • My buyer and the person named on the eBay account were two different people.
  • The person named on the eBay account was sent to prison in 2007 to serve 14 years for a string of armed robberies.
  • The prisoner was a talented artist, and I saw some examples of his paintings.
  • My buyer was born in 1969 in the UK, and given up for adoption by his single mother.
  • He used the internet in the mid 2000s to search for his birth mother, and found her! I read the message string and it brought tears to my eyes.
  • It took me a little longer to find the connection between my buyer and the prisoner – but I did it! They were at school together. I guess my buyer must use the eBay account to send things to him in prison.
  • Then, of course, I wanted to know whether the gift I’m sending to Plymouth is for the birth mother or the adoptive mother. It’s the adoptive mother.

Amazing what you can find on the internet in the space of a few minutes, isn’t it?

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9 thoughts on “The Power of Google

  1. Wow what a story! And yes it’s both amazing and scary what can be found via a simple google search. My friends always say I can find anything on the internet and if I had professional skills and tools at my disaposal who knows how much more I could delve!

    Victoria x
    FlorenceandMary.com

  2. Gosh, that is quite the saga and, yes, it is scary how much you can find out about someone – without their knowledge – via the internet. We found this out when looking into the anti-social barsteward who started a motor bike training school in the garage next to our house in Essex. Within minutes we got waaaaay more information on that git (including several bankruptcy notices) than even we could have imagined. Oh yeah, and most of the information was of the ‘not good’ variety.

  3. Crikey, it sounds like an episode of Eastenders . The internet is brilliant for tracking people down. I recently found a French family we were friends with 35 years ago. xx
    Have a great time in DXB.

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