5 eBay scams you might still fall for

9 June 2009


People in the UK spend more money on eBay than they do going to the movies (Screen International).  And with 203 million registered users worldwide and 1.3 million people who rely on the auction website as a primary or secondary source of income, eBay considers their statistic of only one auction in 40,000 ending up as a reported case of confirmed fraud a small figure.

But for 5 million+ items currently for sale at any given time, that still translates to 250 cases. It may not be as pressing as the 15,520 days until the end of oil, but according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, nearly half (48%) of all online fraud cases are of auction fraud, amounting to some 500 cases per week. So here are 5 scams that sellers and buyers should know about that may directly or indirectly affect you:

1. Negative Feedback from Fraudulent Buyers. In May 2008, changes in eBay’s feedback policy took place, in response to eBay’s data shows that sellers are eight times more likely to retaliate against negative feedback which can hurt honest and accurate buyers. The new policy preventing sellers from receiving negative feedback. This has led to an increase in negative feedback from fraudulent buyers. One eBay music store reported that a suspected scammer left over 50 negative feedback ratings for other sellers.

2. Chargebacks/Partial Refunds. In 2002, online credit card fraud jumped by 15 percent to £110.1 million.  Sellers do not just lose the price of dispatched goods, but also have to pay administrative charges to the bank if they are not careful. And in view of point 1 with negative feedback changes, sellers who want to make their customer happy will refund part of their money. A better approach is to request the buyer to return the item for a full refund.  Other buyers will falsely claim that the item was never received but request a full refund.  This can be avoided if sellers ship via tracked services under Paypal Seller Protection.

3. Lack of negative seller ratings. Beware of the lack of negative ratings for sellers. Read the neutral reviews, because on e-Bay bad reviews are not normally given prior to 2008, due to the phenomenon of retaliation ratings. You might want to consider the neutral review as negative to be on the safe side.

4. Account hijacking and one day sales. In this scam the perpetrator either steals an existing seller’s account or quickly signs up to do a one-day auction.  One-day auctions can be legit, but be careful and make sure you read a seller’s last few reviews to make sure they are consistent.

5. Strange circumstances. Many a fraudulent ad claims unusual circumstances, such as "The strangest thing happened. I just bought a car at a government auction for a dollar and I need to sell it quick...” Don’t rise to the bait.

Bottom line is, sometimes it’s good to go with a gut feeling, and if you think there’s something shady about a buyer or a seller, the safest thing is not to engage in a purchase with them.

[Image courtesy of Geekstir.com]

TOPICS:   Scams


  • MinstrelMan
    A fool and their money are soon parted with......... anyone want to by an Iphone 3Gs? I have 5 with me right now....... £100 each, please send cash to my PO BOX address.
  • Francis R.
    MinstrelMan - You send iPhone, I send £10,000, when iPhones received, you send remaing funds, I give you good feedback. Thinking of you. The Nigerian scammers... I mean David Smith.
  • Nobby
    You missed out shilling. It is easier than ever now to do it and not get caught.
  • Robin
    Hi MinstrelMan, I'll take on of those iPhones pleeez! I just need your baaaank account details [said in Fonejacker style voice]
  • MinstrelMan
    cash only fool.... read the auction..... mucho neg feedback for you, time waster! relisted! lol
  • Mike U.
    Aag Ebay, the best place to sell nearly naked pictures of your lying cheating other ex girlfriend!!!
  • Daniel V.
    Mike Unt, can I please have the auction number?
  • dick w.
    One of the more popular eBay scams is virtual car fraud. The car is always below market value and invites the user to pay into a Barclays account on the premise that the transaction is being overseen by eBay. eBay have nothing to do with this; eBay buyer protection does not exist in the UK for vehicles. eBay will have nothing to do with the victim or acknowledge that it is a problem.The Police will take a statement, but dismiss it due to low priority.The banks will say that they only process transactions, even if it is to an account that has been used fraudulently on many occassions. The easiest way to avoid this is not to buy a car online.These scams operate on eBay and Autotrader etc.

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