If some of the recent eBay auctions have you scratching your head, the "gremlin" will take care of that itch.
Up close and personal with the buyers, sellers, and sometimes innocent bystanders.

eBay Gremlin Wagers Wife in Poker Game
– and Wins!
eBay seller:  justinsain0
Auction: 8100611330 (or any of his other 99-cent video game auctions)

All you need to do is sign up for a Real Money online poker account and you will receive a COMPLETELY FREE BRAND NEW FACTORY SEALED GAME! This is not a scam, please email me with any questions that you might have.

How to receive this FREE offer.
1. Win this auction
2. You will receive an email with a few bonus codes.
3. Sign up for a NEW account at PartyPoker using one of the bonus codes provided.
4. Deposit at least $50 into your account to receive the PartyPoker deposit bonus.
5. Your FREE game will then be shipped to you free of charge.
Note: You will not receive anything if 3 & 4 above are not completed.

Opening bid: Fellow DP users may remember this "gambler” from either of these threads:
http://www.digitpress.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=31942 (poop)

Now, what kind of scam pray tell is this? If the seller’s eBay name doesn’t tip you off that not all is kosher in this new deli, his auction conditions surely will.  I love the “This is not a scam” statement. You have all read ad descriptions like that before, right? Sure you have. “The game is in MINT shape”, “The car runs flawlessly/no problems whatsoever”, “I am not fat/I have an athletic build”. It’s not a scam, it just sounds like one. You’ll get your game - you’ll just pay more for it than you wanted to. As you will soon see, his detailed, step-by-step requirements are missing a few.

“All you need to do” is that, and more. Time to call this player's bluff...


<eBay gremlin> What is with all the poker strategy stuff in your auctions? Are you addicted to poker or something?

<justinsain0> What does a strategy have to do with addition? There is no correlation whatsover there. Anyhow, the answer to your question. eBay will not host an auction which has nothing for sale. In order to make this offer available, there has to be an actual object for sale. This object is an ebook telling you how to play poker well.

<eBay gremlin> Sure there is a correlation- gambling addicts don't want to lose money so they learn all the strategies they can J.

eBay won't host an auction that has nothing for sale? You are KIDDING ME! So if the object in this particular auction is the poker strategy book then why do you need to add the game? Why do all of your auctions have something related to poker in them when most of the stuff you are selling has NOTHING to do with poker?

<justinsain0> I am not "selling" anything! I am buying someone a gift if they sign up for a poker account. Why my auctions have something to do with poker is because the poker people pay me a lot of money to sign people up. If it was church bingo that was paying me, I would be promoting bingo. Don't you understand that I'm just trying to make a few dollars here? It doesn't necessarily have to do with video games, its just something in my budget that helps the product sell. I’ve offered free books and even DVD's, but nothing sells on eBay like a video game.


[“Not selling anything”. You can say that again.]

<eBay gremlin> Ok, but why must I pay $50 to get a game that isn't worth $50 new? I don’t understand this.

<justinsain0> You have to deposit $50 into your poker account. You can withdraw that amount after you deposit if and get your $50 back. You are not paying anything.

[Let me mention something about this right now. Party Poker will only release the $50 to the referrer if the referred plays 50 raked hands of poker. They state this right on their “tell a friend” terms-and-conditions page- http://www.partypoker.com/tell_a_friend/taf_terms_conditions.html. To put it another way- you, the buyer, have to play 50 hands of poker before he sees his $50. And Party Poker will not let you just take back your $50 without some sort of commitment to play or getting something for their "trouble", otherwise people would be constantly exploiting this!]

<eBay gremlin> If I can withdraw it after depositing it, then what is the point to depositing it to begin with? Please explain this to me in more detail. I am interested in a few of your items, but this whole $50 poker account thingamajob makes no sense to me. No sense at all.
<justinsain0> I get credit for signing up new people to party poker. As soon as you make your $50 deposit, you’re considered signed up. All I want is the credit for that. If you use a bonus code that I send you, then I will get credit. In exchange for giving me that credit, I will go to my local store and buy you a brand new copy of the game that you want and send it to you at my expense. After that, since the $50 is in your personal poker account, you can do whatever you want with it. If you choose to take your $50 out, or play with it, or just leave it there, or whatever else, that is up to you. That way we both win. You get a free game, and I get credit for signing someone up. Does that make any sense?

<eBay gremlin> Not particularly. You're willing to buy a new game and sell it for as little as 5 cents in order to get "credit" for signing someone up to this poker party dohicky dealio. Why not just take the same money and use it to sign up a new account? What kind of racket is this thing? Some sort of clever operation to pay off gambling debts?


<justinsain0> Party Poker pays me $65 for each person who signs up. Think of it as we are splitting the profits. You get $35 I get $30.

[Now he is getting $65 instead of $50. Where’d that extra $15 come from? We’ll get back to this a bit later.]
<eBay gremlin> Sounds like I have to give personal information or credit card information to sign up, otherwise anyone with an email account can do it, and if that is so then why do you need people to sign up for you? Once I deposit the $50 I can just withdraw it without any other obligations or requirements? And what is this ‘bonus code’ thingy you keep talking about? Is that like a discount code that you see for airline tickets and hotel rooms, so like you can save money on the full amount that you would normally otherwise squander? Thanks for all the quick replies.


<justinsain0> Yes, the only way you can deposit $50 is to give your credit card or bank account info (or else how else would you be able to put money in)

[Oh, I don’t know- check, money order, wire transfer, etc.]

Yes, once you deposit your $50 you can withdraw it without any other obligations. The bonus code is tracked to me so that it proved that I signed you up. Let me try to trace and explain this for you. I have an account with party poker. Each person who signs up with my bonus code gives me one referral credit. As soon as each person makes a real money deposit (minimum $50) I get credit for signing that person up (they know I signed them up because the bonus code is matched to me). In addition, for signing up, party poker gives each new member a bonus of $25. After I get this credit, party poker gives me $65. It is more convincing to get people to sign up if I give them free things like games. So I give new games to people who sign up, and keep the money that is left over. It is very profitable, and everyone wins.

I hope that makes sense. If you still don’t get it, I don’t know what else to tell you.


[Ooo, now I get an extra $25 when I sign up. Or do I?]

 <eBay gremlin> Ok Justin, guess that sounds about fair to me. So I get $25 for signing up after I give them $50, and you get $65, is that right? Wow, that seems like a lot of money they are giving out just to sign up a new member, but they must have the money for this. Gambling does pay to someone, right! Crazy gambling money! Why don’t you mention the extra $25 in the auction? You might get more people bidding on your games if they know that, or maybe it’s a secret promotion thing that you don’t want anyone to know about?  So then I can do a withdrawal for my original $50 plus the extra $25? That is a pretty good deal! The only real problem I have with all of this is- I don’t know HOW to play poker! I know it is unbelievable in this day an age of gambling, stealing, rampaging drug use, and other forms of subtle disregard for civility, but since I have a free $25, I might be willing to learn. Do they offer some sort of tutorial on this gambino site or can you offer me some playing tips or strategies? I wanna be an action player!


<justinsain0> No, you need to play 125 hands before the $25 bonus from party poker is released. MY free game is immediate.

[Ah, he didn’t mention that little fact. One of many, as we will soon learn.]

<eBay gremlin> So if I use your code, I don’t get the $25, but I don’t have to play with any hands. And I don’t have to, to get my $50 back, correct? I would still like to know how to play poker. Maybe I can get in on this action and cut myself a slice of “lime pie”, you know what I’m talking about? But I need to know how to play! Or rather, how to play smart and not lose my fruit slings! What do you say? Help a wannabe gambling addict out.


<justinsain0> You can take your $50 back by withdrawing it, or you can leave it and play some poker and then you’ll get the $25 bonus too. If you want to play poker, they have low stakes tables there, 50 cents a hand. And sure, I would be glad to help you learn how to play.

[At 50 cents a game, that is a lot of poker you’ll be playing!]

<eBay gremlin> I thought I had to use their code first to get the extra $25. I can do that with yours too? 50 cents a hand sounds pretty good. How high do the stakes go? And this is all on the uppity-up? They don’t try to trick you by saying “oh play this game, it’s a real small baller, and then you find out it’s 2Gs a pop (gambling lingo – pretty good, eh? I learned it!). It sounds like you really know your way around a poker table. How long have you been doing this sort of stuff, living the Vegas lifestyle, as they say?

Thanks for the tutorial offer, which I gladly accept. Why, I’ll give you a couple bucks for helping me out. Who knows, maybe one day we will play real poker at a real table - 2 highly skilled card wranglers - and gamble for high stakes, like betting each other’s trucks or wives! Hehe. Oh, do you have to use your real name on this poker site or can you use “gambling” names like Micky Finn, Tommy Jackpot, Chip Nicker, or Tomato? My real name (Stephen Lumas) doesn’t sound like it would intimidate any of my future would-be opponents. And I certainly couldn’t use my high school nickname (“Given Lupas”). Those felt-top pros would see me coming a mile away, and give me a real good shanking, know what I mean?

Talk with ya soon, pard’ner.


<justinsain0> Here’s the thing with bonus codes. "My" bonus code and "their" bonus code is the exact same thing.

[How can that be? He said his code was “matched” to him!]

Basically any bonus code that you find for an extra $25 comes from someone and they get credit for referring you. Party Poker themselves don’t put any bonus codes out; they all come from other members. So "my" bonus code is created at their site, and is therefore a bonus from them, but traced to me (to give me credit)

[Sure they do. Party Poker mentions the $25 bonus code – TAF15 – right on their “tell a friend” terms-and-conditions page (listed earlier), and at http://www.partypoker.com/tell_a_friend/index.html ]

So, are you still interested in joining and getting a free game for it? Cause here are your bonus codes, just tell me which game you want. I made two for you, it’s your choice. Go to www.partypoker.com and click download. When you sign up for a new account it’ll ask for a "sign up bonus code" enter one of the following:

LUMAS25 - They will add $25 to your account when you make first deposit, you will need to play 125 hands to release this bonus

[Not really a great deal, if all you want is his eBay game.]

LUMAS20 - They will add an additional 20% to whatever you deposit, up to $100. So you need to deposit $500 to get a bonus of $100. You need to play 5 times the bonus amount in hands to release this bonus.

[Even worse of a deal, if all you want is his eBay game.]

Yes, the stakes go high, up to no limit games where you bet whatever you would like. I’ve seen single hands go for thousands of dollars. It just depends on how controlled you are.

Yes, you can use cool poker names, what shows when you play is your username, which you can create.

Any more questions?


<eBay gremlin> How can I resist such a lucid and detailed explanation as that? Even if I could, the use of poker names really sold me! I think that is just too cool, way cool and sweet as the little bastards always say. What do you use? Do you use more than one? I guess a professional player like you has several aliases you go by, right? I think I’ll use something common like “Joe” or “Richard Miller”, to throw everyone off and make them think I’ll just an “average Joe” when in fact I’m a pokin-playin killa! What do you think? Maybe I should use a tried-an-true nickname like “cool hand Luke”, “John ‘High-Stakes’ Wayne”, or Steve "up your ante" Lumas? Or maybe I should just use my wife’s maiden name (Hellen Baskin. I always kid her that her last name should have been Back, but she hates that joke. A lot. Women…) – that way if I lose big, they’ll come to cap her knees and not mine. And then I’ll get one of those casino girls! Pretty clever, eh little chum? I just have to remember to use her credit card when I sign up, or I’m really done for I think. But I need a NAME first. I have to know the name when I go to sign up though, right? I really really just don’t know. Help me out here, pard’ner!

Thanks for the codes. That was very generous of you. I’ll ask one of my no-good kids what game they want and let you know. I think I should bet a few of them in my first high-stakes party poker game. Right? I also have to decide which code to use. The $25 is nice, but I think I’m really going to like playing poker so maybe the high bonus one is the way to go. One question- you say if I use that one, I have to play 5 times the bonus amount in hands. Does that mean I have to play $500 in poker (win or lose) to get the $100? So if I play one $500 hand (and hopefully win) then I’d get the $100, or do I have to play low-stakes hands?

“Poker Hi+Lo Steve”

<justinsain0> You can play any stakes of hands. To release the $100 bonus you need to play 5 times the bonus amount, so that’s 500 hands. If you play one $500 hand and win or lose, you have played 1 hand, 499 more to go. When you select the game, please choose from my eBay auctions, I can’t afford more expensive games.

[“5 times the bonus amount”. I must be missing something here because it doesn’t say you have to play 500 hands of poker, you just have to spend $500 playing poker. What’s the difference if you play 500 $1 games or 1,000 50-cent games?]

<eBay gremlin> Heya, pard’enr.  It looks like playing ‘el cheaperino’ hands is the way to go, right? Boy, that’s a LOT of poker though. Good thing I recently had that super-high internet installed. Perfect timing I’d say! Now I can be the fasterest poker chip-lickin, money-squandering, IOU note-writin gambler there is! You said you can’t afford more expensive games. Forgive me, but I thought you were one of those high-rollers! Maybe that’s all a “front” to your real persona, hmm? Works pretty good. HAD ME FOOLED. Do you gamble for real, I mean like in casinos, airports, drug stores, people’s basements you don’t know….that sort of thing? I’m curious to know if doing online gambling leads to real habit-forming gambling. I have a job, a secretary, a mother, a wife, 2 ex-wives, 1 too many kids, and several bartenders depending on me. Naturally you can understand how a poker gambling habit would be an inconvenience to all that. Speaking of kids, they said they are looking for some Gamby Advance games. They didn’t say which ones, so any will do. Just let me know what you have and I’ll bid on them. Mucho gracious..

Steve “tossin my chips” Lumas

<justinsain0> Sounds good, by "cant afford more expensive games" means I am buying the video games to send you, and don’t get too much to sign people up, so only the games I have available will work. But the more expensive poker games, yes, I have been known to show my face there time and again. 125 poker hands isn't too much, it goes quick. I do play real poker, casinos, basements and what have you, but the online poker didn’t lead to these, they lead to the online poker. What kind of an addict it makes you depends on how much you play.

[Important lesson to remember there, kids. You will only get addicted if you play a LOT.]

I could get you any of these games brand new for game boy advance

Disney's home on the range
Need for speed: porche released
R-Type III
Street Jam Basketball
Kim Possible
Tetris Worlds
Cartoon Network Speedway
Harry Potter and the Chamber os secrets
super monkey ball jr.

I could get any of these used
pokemon ruby
pokemon sapphire
sonic advance 2
metroid: zero mission
harvest moon: friends of mineral town

Let me know if this works for you and which one they want. Questions? send em over

<eBay gremlin> Well, my wife got wind of what I’m thinking about doing (“evil dirty despicable gambling nonsense” – her words), and it’s been all pots-and-pans banging here ever since. When she goes off, it’s like trying to explain math to the Hulk. Screw her. I don’t get those little punks much, but when I set my mind to do something I go ALL THE WAY. And those brats are gonna get games, dammit. She blows money all the time on all this Lennox crap. There’s a whole cabinet full of the shit in MY living room. I often imagine myself choke-slamming her into it when she gets like this, just like a kick-ass pro wrestler ……BUT of course you can’t do things like that. Not without a good alibi, or a good lawyer. Or both. HAhAhAHA! Maybe I’ll run into one of those mobbed-up guys in my future poker gambling adventures, and we’ll cut a side bet J. She makes me sometimes wonder if I shouldn’t just slide around to the other side of the table, know what I mean? Then I could get a little hucklebuck from some French businessman in Atlantic City, and roll him for all his moola in the morning, NJ-style! Anyway, back to biz. Good to know that if I don’t play a lot, I won’t get addicted. But if I did, I might be forced to sell all that lennix junk, and what a damn cryin shame THAT would BE! Hyperkinetically speaking, what if I ultimately decide that I don’t want to play poker, and just want to get my $50 back. If I use a bonus code, do I have to play, or could I just get the $50 back and forgo the bonus stuff? Now to go find that creature’s credit card and do a little spending of my own. With the games, I know they like Pokeman and Harry Potterin, or anything else that you think girls are into. Yes, I’m the only man in the house. Pray for me, pard’ner.
Steve “these hands were made for achokin, and that’s just what they’ll do” Lumas

<justinsain0> Ha, sounds good, and yes you can stop right after signing up and get your $50 foregoing the "bonus stuff." You seem to have a very creative mind. Are you a writer?

[The bonus code isn’t required, but it certainly is a big part of his sales pitch!]

<eBay gremlin> The bonus stuff isn’t required. That is good to know, thanks. Am I a writer? No, I am a custodian at a local school. Do you think I would make up stuff about my wife?! Justin, if I was gonna make up stuff about her I would say she was pretty enough to kill for and that she never pushes my anger buttons. The reality is, she’d cook my nuts in a crock pot if given the chance. Any one would think that I would have learned from my first 2 marriages and not do it again, but here I am. I’m glad you think my life is funny.

<justinsain0> I didn’t say funny, I said creative. Writers don’t just make things up, they make the truth sound interesting too.

[They sure do. Writers are just amazing people, are they not?]

<eBay gremlin> Ok, I have more time to talk, type, write and what not. The queen flew off on her broom for the day, thank god. I looked up, researched, and otherwise found this little gambino poker place of yours. According to their web site, they give you $50 for referring a friend, not $65. Where does the extra $15 come from?? They also say on the site that “In addition, we will release $50 (to the person who referred the new member) only after the Referred Friend has played 50 raked hands at PartyPoker.com. You would then be entitled to freely cash out the Bonus Amount.” Sounds like if I sign up and then withdraw my moola, then you don’t get your bonus? How can that be? People would be rippin you off left an right, would they not? There must be more to this dealio.

Stevie “Joker Poker” Lumas

<justinsain0> I have a special deal with party poker that they give me $65, not $50, and I get it as soon as the first deposit is in. In other words, the 50 hands are not required for the people that I refer, so nobody is ripping me off in any direction. I was just over some of these emails to figure out exactly what I have been promising you through all of these emails, and I noticed something strange. You say that you have a secretary, and then you tell me that you are a school custodian. Since when does your common "custodial engineer" have a secretary? Maybe I need to get in on some of this action. And I dont think I ever answered your question about which name I go by. Its Justinsane in most of the poker rooms I play at. (clever, huh?) Have you settled on a name yet?


[A “special deal”, that is not mentioned anywhere on their site. He must be a RIP (real important player) to them.]
<eBay gremlin> Justin (sorry…Justinsane) Oh yeah, I think I settled on a name to use- Poker Gremlin? What do you think, pardner? So is this special deal you have only offered to their very bestest players or those who are the most active spending money, or getting others to spend money? Is there a better deal you can get if you get someone hopelessly addicted and they blow their life savings? Ha! I can’t seem to find any reference to this on that website. Maybe they don’t want playas to know there is a way around being required to play poker? You say the bonus stuff isn’t important but you have talked much about it and it seems to figure heavily in your eBay advertisements J, and from your auction descriptions it seems to be required as part of winning it. Glad to know you aren’t getting ripped off with that little loophole. I know, you probably wait to send the auction stuff, right? I would! As for work yeah we have a secretary in our custodial department. It is a big school that includes grades 5-12 and she handles filing all the incident reports for the school also- littering (paper, gum, nose boogering and more), thefts, vandalism, fights, stabbings, shootings, fights that lead to stabbings and shootings, and even dress code violations. It is a crazee place some days, and it will only be getting worse now with the warmer weather coming. If ants had pants, and they were full of ants, they would act just like little hoodlums act. One day, probably my last one, I’m gonna Babe Ruth one of them with my mop. That will be fun. If that poker party place had some kind of kids-for-cash bonus program deal, I would be rich, RICH I tell ya!


[Few days go by with no reply. Good time to show my 'cards' - read 'em and weep!]

<eBay gremlin> Hmm, haven’t heard from ya, “pard’ner”. Can’t say I’m surprised at your sudden conversation “withdrawal”. I’ll level with you here- I had the spider sense that you were not telling the whole story with this bonus thing (I know this because my testes get tingly). If the bonus code isn’t required or important – as you say it is - then why do you keep mentioning it? I noticed you advertise it in all of your video game-related auctions:

3. Sign up for a NEW account at PartyPoker using one of the bonus codes provided.
4. Deposit at least $50 into your account to receive the PartyPoker deposit bonus.

From your own auction description, you say all you have to do is sign up and deposit $50 in your account to get the bonus money when clearly if they use your codes, the only way to get that money is to either play 50 hands of poker (to get your initial $50 back) or spend 5x what the bonus amount ($25) is worth! Why is it you never mentioned this?  Just curious. That is exactly what is says on PartyPoker’s “Tell A Friend” main page: http://www.partypoker.com/tell_a_friend/index.html. However, if you click on the link for more details and term conditions (http://www.partypoker.com/tell_a_friend/taf_terms_conditions.html) you find:

“4) The $25 will automatically be added to the Referred Friend’s Bonus Account and then released to his/her Real Money Account once the release requirements have been satisfied. The release requirement is that the Referred Friend play raked hands equal to five times the bonus amount ($25) before the bonus is transferred to his/her Real Money Account from the Bonus Account. “

And what of this:

“5) To receive $50 for referring a friend, the Referring Friend must have a Real Money Account (an account to which real money has previously been deposited) to which the $50 will be credited. If not the $50 will be on hold until the Referring Friend make a Real Money Deposit. In addition, we will release $50 only after the Referred Friend has played 50 raked hands at PartyPoker.com. You would then be entitled to freely cash out the Bonus Amount."
I fold (and so should you).


[This is why chances are he is not going to send you your item until you not only sign up and deposit the required $50 minimum into your new account, but ALSO play at least 50 hands of poker, so that he gets his $50!]


Yes, it’s a scam, and although it is not illegal, it skates right near the edge. It takes advantage of people with fast button-clicking reflexes - gamers - who will only see a game at an incredibly low price and bid before realizing what they signed themselves up for. Bottom line here is, you are not going to get a brand-new game for $1 (anyone who thinks they will has to be "just insane").. Looking back at his list of requirements, #4 is woefully inaccurate. Naturally, most people would not realize that until it was too late, or they took the time to investigate that PartyPoker site. Speaking of which, here are a few more tidbits I found there:

All amounts cashed out are subject to the transaction limits and processing fees as set forth at PartyPoker.com and may change from time to time in Company's sole discretion.
Forfeiture, Account Closure and Confiscation. If you participate in a PartyPoker.com promotion and withdraw before fulfilling the requirements of that particular promotion;

If it seemed hard to get a straight answer from this poker-faced seller, getting one from Party Poker proved just as trying:

<eBay gremlin> If I sign up for an account (through a member's referral) and deposit $50 or $100 into it, am I committed to playing poker or can I withdraw my full deposit at any time without any fees or charges?

<partypoker> As you have mentioned in your mail please be informed that you can withdraw the amount after you make deposit. The minimum amount which you can withdraw is $50 and please note that there is a 8 hour security restriction after ever purchase before you can request for a withdrawal.

<eBay gremlin> I just have a few more questions I hope you don't mind helping me with.

For example, if I open an account and deposit $50, if I want to withdraw the $50, what (if any) amount would the processing fee for this be? If I sign up using a bonus code, how would that affect me in this example? Does it affect the processing fee?

Your standard-terms-conditions page mentions a promotional bonus, which will be held until you play raked hands equal to ten (10) times the bonus amount within fifteen (15) days of making your deposit. What amount is this bonus? And by "playing raked hands equal to 10 times the bonus amount", how much does it cost to play each hand? For example, if this bonus amount is $100, could I play 10 hands at $100 a hand, or 5 hands at $200 each? Or is there a fixed amount or limit to the price for each hand played as it applies to meeting this requirement?

"Tell a Friend" offer: a member of Party Poker is telling me that he has a special deal with you that entitles him to $65 if he refers someone to open an account, and not the $50 that is stated on your terms-and-conditions page. He also states that people who join through him are not required to play 50 raked hands of poker. Is this true?

<partypoker> When you make a cash out after the security restriction of 8 hours mentioned in the previous mail, there are no charges or fees if you opt for the money to be sent to you by US Post or to your bank account. If your request is for the cash out amount to be sent by
a) Wire - there is a fee of $35
b) Check by FedEx - there is a fee of $25

All bonuses will be credited to your account on playing the required number of raked hands. The number of raked hands to be played will depend on the type of bonus.

<eBay gremlin> Thanks. Yes, I realize the number of raked hands to be played depends on what bonus offer I'm using. What I'm asking is, what constitutes a hand, as far as cost is concerned?

Also, what of the information told to me by a Party Poker member?

[No reply]


There's no deals to be had here, and sometimes getting a straight answer is harder than getting a straight hand of cards.  Not long after, eBay started addressing 'switcheroo' sellers like this one.  As an old card shark once told me, "If something sounds too good to be true, it probably it." 


A new eBay Gremlin can be found here quarterly!

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Last updated: Saturday, February 19, 2011 02:39 PM