eBay is the world’s biggest auction platform. That means two things: big bargains and bigger scams. We’re not shy to expose big financial scams here on DebtReviews and next in line is eBay, as we lift the lid on everything that you need to know about eBay scams and other dirty dealings.
Before we get into these scams it’s worth noting that we do really like eBay and think it’s a great place to shop. These warnings are not here to discredit the site, but to make sure customers can use it safely.
eBay Seller Scams
When you sell something on eBay you are exposing yourself to all kinds of unscrupulous buyers. For the most part, the customers you encounter will be fair and honest, but there are a few who will try to scam you out of your product and/or your money.
Buyer Claims They Did Not Receive the Item
This is far more common than it should be. It is a scam we discussed on our PayPal page, but one that has is roots on eBay.
The buyer will make a purchase, typically for a big ticket item. They receive the item and then claim that they didn’t, opening up a Paypal dispute or initiating a chargeback to do so.
More often than not it works, because in most cases the seller doesn’t have a leg to stand on. There have even been cases of sellers getting delivery receipts and signatures and still losing PayPal disputes.
Simply put, the system favors the buyer, so the only way you can avoid these eBay scams is to make sure you only deal with buyers that have a lot of feedback and a history of big ticket purchases. Be suspicious of accounts with little or no feedback and accounts that have feedback, but only for $0.99 purchases.
The Buyer Asks to Go Outside of eBay
These eBay scams typically target big ticket items and are very common with bicycles, motorbikes and even cars. The scammers send you a message to express interest in purchasing your item but then feed you excuses as to why they can’t bid or buy using the eBay site.
They may send you an overpayment and then ask that you send it back, that you use it to pay for a delivery service owned by a friend, or that you send it to one of their friends. They may simply make an overpayment and then ask for faster shipping in exchange.
In any case, they are using a stolen credit card and know that they are operating on borrowed time. Their goal is to get the item quickly and, if they can, to get some cash from you as well. The credit card will be cancelled in weeks, days or even hours, and when that happens a chargeback will be initiated so the seller will lose the money for the item, the item itself, and any additional cash that was paid back to the buyer.
It’s a cruel scam, but it’s very common.
eBay Phishing Scams
Phishing emails target all eBay members, not just sellers. But if you are a big seller then you have much more to lose and may find that your sales, your details and your money are compromised if you fall for this scam.
It begins with an email from a scammer claiming to be from eBay. They use eBay logos and cloning tools that make it look like they are sending it from an eBay address, and they make claims about disputes, pending invoices, and even fraud attempts on your account (ah, the irony), all to get you to click a link. Once you do, you will be directed to a fake eBay login page, where any details you input are logged and sent straight to the scammers.
Phishing emails are usually very easy to spot. They are often poorly written, contain a lot of mistakes and odd requests, and say things the real company would never say. But even the well written phishing emails can be spotted. Just look at the “reply-to” address, it may say “eBay” but when you hover over it you will see the real address and if it doesn’t end in “eBay.com” it’s a scam.
You can also hover over the link they are trying to get you to click on, or right-click>copy link>paste into notepad, to see it in all it’s ugly glory.
eBay Buyer Scams
It’s not just sellers who get scammed on eBay, buyers can also find themselves seriously out of pocket after using this website.
Seller Ships Package with the Wrong Name
The seller sends you the package that you ordered, but they include the wrong name on the front. They are hoping that you will take it back to the post office or even refuse the parcel, in which case they have you exactly where they want you.
This scam works because once the parcel is returned or refused then eBay’s Money Back Guarantee is voided. The seller is relying on your good faith and using it against you, and in most cases even if you open the box you would find nothing of value, and certainly nothing like what you ordered.
The seller keeps your money and because the item was returned/rejected there is no way to file a dispute. The only thing you can do is open all packages that are shipped to you, whether they include your address or not.
If you do and you find that the item is not as described, then you have a case for a dispute. If not, then you should still contact the seller to discuss the issue and then leave bad feedback (and warn eBay) if you believe they did it maliciously.
Seller Sends a Box
This is a dirty trick more than a scam and it relies on a buyer’s desperation and lack of diligence. It typically begins with a “must-have” item that has been sold out everywhere, but it can also begin with any other big ticket item.
The seller posts a picture of what appears to be the item in the box and then states something like, “Item sold as pictured”. You buy it (typically as an auction) and you get the item only to realize that they were being literal and that you just paid hundreds of dollars for an empty box.
They have done nothing wrong here because they gave you exactly what you paid for. You may only have recourse for a dispute if they went to great lengths to trick you into thinking that you were getting something else, such as by showing pictures of the real item and making claims that the real item was being sold.
The only way to avoid these scams is to pay more attention when making big ticket purchases, to never buy in a hurry, and to always purchase from sellers with lots of positive feedback. An experienced, respected seller would never pull this trick and it’s often something done by brand new eBay accounts.