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eBay is Australia's leading online marketplace

Scams on Ebay

I deal a lot on ebay and I've come across some doozy scams; most are obvious but some are very hard to spot.

One thing I will admit - I have been stung by the Powerseller email; it wasn't my proudest moment.

What saved me was the fact that eBay's safety department had caught the scam artist and shut my account (to be reopened by me when I proved I was the account owner); ironically I thought the email I got from eBay's safety department was fake!!

Below is an overview of scams I have seen on ebay.

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Okay, lets start with the one I got caught by.

When you do a certain amount of sales each month on ebay ($2,000 in Australia) for 3 months you may be invited to be a Powerseller; as a Powerseller I can recommend accepting this invitation if you receive it!

I was on ebay for 2 years with my sales slowly growing, one month I actually hit $2k of sales!  Then the next month I did it again!!  If I did it for a 3rd time I was going to be an ebay Powerseller!!!
I was half way through the 3rd month and it was looking good, then suddenly I got the invitation!  I had DONE IT!!!

I quickly clicked on the link, logged in and accepted the invitation!

When I woke up the next morning I was informed by ebay that I was not a Powerseller and that my account had been hijacked - the email I received was a fake.
I went through the procedure of getting my account back on line but felt pretty stupid that I had been caught out.

I did receive (real) Powerseller status at the end of the month though!

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Account suspension, account on hold

Stay on ebay long enough and you will receive an email with this as a heading.  It looks like it is from ebay and tells you that your account is suspended, overdrawn, owing money e.t.c

The email is usually pretty good and looks like a real ebay email, but when you click on the button that says 'click here to reinstate your account' it takes you to another site altogether, if you enter your details into this (non ebay) web site then you have given your details to the scammer.

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'where's my item?', 'I've paid the wrong person'

These are emails from other ebay members and they are usually fairly abrupt and disrespectful; they claim that they have not received the item they bought from you and that if you don't do about it quickly they will report you to the police and have you banned from ebay.

These emails are deliberately rude in order to get you nervous and make quick decisions.

The email has a link in it (the big yellow button) so you can access your ebay account and sort out the problem.

If you investigate this slowly (by going to the ebay site without clicking on the email) you will find that there was no transaction and it is a scam. 

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How to Avoid all this

If you receive an email from ebay simply delete it and then go into the ebay web site; if the email was real then a message will be waiting for you, if there is no message waiting then it was fake.

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What do I do if I just gave my details to a scammer?

Contact ebay straight away and tell them the truth.  They have about 100 accounts stolen a day in Australia and won't think you are an stupid if you were conned, they are very helpful in this situation.

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Why do scammers want your ebay account?

When a scammer has access to your ebay account they immediately put hundreds of iPods on ebay (or any other item that has a fast turnover and a large price).

Why? An iPod sells in Australia every 6 minutes.
An iPod usually sells for around $360 in Australia so if a scammer put them on for $200 each then they could possibly sell 10 an hour ($2,000 an hour).  When they sell the iPod they ask the buyer to wire transfer the money to them, they receive the money but there is no iPod.
When the buyer asks for their money back they ask YOU (it's your account remember) but the buyer actually wired the money to the scammer, which is untraceable.  The buyer has lost their money and usually leaves you negative feedback out of frustration.

I have seen an account where over 400 iPods were sold over a weekend (the real account holder had gone away for that time).  400 iPods at $200 each?  $80,000 is not bad money for 72 hours of work.

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I have written a book (Cyberscams : How they affect ebay, Paypal and you) which covers the ebay scams in more details.
Chapter headings are below -

bulletChapter 10 - Shill bidding
bulletChapter 11 - Retracted bids
bulletChapter 12 - Postage costs
bulletChapter 13 - Change of Address
bulletChapter 14 - Refunds
bulletChapter 15 - Linking to web sites off ebay
bulletChapter 16 - Wire transfers
bulletChapter 17 - Auction Interference
bulletChapter 18 - Allegations of price fixing and overpricing
bulletChapter 19 - Early offers
bulletChapter 20 - Price guides
bulletChapter 21 -Drop Shippers and Distributors
bulletChapter 22 - Selling on behalf of others (trading assistant)
bulletChapter 23 - Items damaged in the mail
bulletChapter 24 - Second chance offers
bulletChapter 25 - Feedback extortion
bulletChapter 26 – The Powerseller scam
bulletChapter 27 - What to do when you think you have found a fake item or account

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Think I'm the only one who jumps up and down about these scams?  Think I'm a lone nut?
Well I'm not, ebay user "class-it" wrote this in the 'payment methods' section on a real ebay auction.  Ebay threatened legal action over this.
This was written on the 10th of February 2008 and I saw the original on 11th of February, ebay took it down within hours.


PAYPAL: Paypal is currently ebays preferred method of stealing high value electrical items off sellers. There are a number of various ways you can use to steal this laptop using paypal.
1: A Fake “Item Not Received” (I.N.R) Claim – All you simply have to do here is purchase my item using an unverified paypal account. Then when you receive the laptop, simply claim that you didn’t receive it at your registered (credit card) and paypal will give you all your money back !
2: A Fake “Item Significantly Not As Described” (S.N.A.D) This is a great way to steal items off sellers. Simply start a dispute after you get the laptop making up some lie about the item being damaged etc – You could use Photoshop to make up fake pictures of damage. Paypal will ask you to send the item back to me, but don’t bother – they never enforce that on buyers and after a short wait you will get all your money back and you will still have the laptop.
3: A fake “Unauthorised Use” Claim – This is a super way of stealing items on ebay and is widely used. Simply claim that someone hijacked your account (paypal & ebay) and that you didn’t order the laptop. Then in conjunction with a fake I.N.R claim you can simply steal the laptop and of course, get your money back.
4: A Stolen Credit card – Of course, ebay make no real attempt to vet any of its buyers, so hey, just register a new ebay account using fake ID information and link it to a paypal account set up with a stolen credit card – and hey presto – A free laptop.

Although officially banned on ebay, fake western union payments are the preferred way for Nigerian Scammers to steal high value electrical items. Simply email me (using pigeon English) telling me that you would like to buy this item using Western Union – Tell me that you would be happy to pay over the odds for the laptop and that it is a present for your mother in law. Then send me a fake western union payment notification and I send you the laptop – Perfect. This method of stealing items off sellers is very widely used on ebay and of course, as ebay do not properly verify buyers its easy to do. Make sure you use Pigeon English as I am really really stupid and it’s bound to fool me.

If you are a traditionalist like me you may prefer a good old mugging. Simply offer to meet me on some dodgy housing estate somewhere and have a load of you mates hiding behind a hedge with a few iron bars. Again, offer to pay me over the odds as there is nothing better than using a sellers greed to bait them into a scam. I would be grateful if you could avoid killing me as this will cause bad publicity for ebay which would be terrible.

In the unlikely event that you are actually a genuine buyer then you really should be shopping in a real shop and not this scammers paradise. However this laptop does really exist and is really for sale. You can email me or skype me with suggestions on how we may actually transact this item to both our satisfaction – with both our safety in mind. Don’t even think of buying it using paypal. I’ve only listed it as accepted because ebay run a protection racket that means I have to accept it. If you do pay by paypal I will simply refund your payment and give you a nice new shiny NEG.

Of course you will no doubt be aware that from May onwards you will be able to blackmail sellers into giving you free P&P / discounts etc. You will be able to give them neg feedback and they will not be able to give you any.. I regret to advise you that because this rule does not come in until May this option of scamming me is not open to you yet.

I would grateful if some sad failed traffic warden could report this auction for two reasons
1: Ebay will see this listing and will hopefully close my account, saving me a 180 days wait to do it myself.
2: You will save me listing fees, making this a free advert."


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