September 19, 2023

Top Buyer Scams on eBay

6 min read
Scams on eBay

When dealing with a large number of customers on eBay sooner or later sellers will run into some not so honest claims that will have to be dealt with carefully. It is also very true that many cases scammers are the sellers but in this article I will focus on situations that affect this category.

Nowadays scammers and hackers alike cruise the Internet for opportunities to steal information and, in many cases products. Before anything sellers must be aware that most EBay/PayPal rules protect buyers and not sellers. For that reason sellers must get familiar with EBay selling rules in order not to run in some situations I described below.

 Account hacking attempt

Last scammer I dealt with was when I received an email which looked like coming from eBay with a typical message saying that a particular item (I was given a bogus item #) contains in its description some words that could be interpreted as an invitation to the buyers to contact me outside eBay and complete the transaction without paying the final selling fees. To begin with this seemed wrong to me as all my listings have pretty much the same text (as I use a template).

A link was given to me which prompted me to a page that looked EXACTLY like the eBay login page –which was the point where I was 100% sure of the scam as I was logged in already on that browser. When I looked up at the link I noticed it was a bogus link and I just closed everything. The obvious idea is to make you to insert the username/password so they could use it to buy stuff later or to mess up your account. This is a quite a popular scam that has many forms and scammers and hackers use it to get into various accounts.

Best idea is to check the link of the page where you put your info. Keep in mind that ANY web page can be duplicated and just because it looks like EBay it does not mean it is.

 Change of delivery address after payment

Another popular scam is the one where a buyer purchased an item and after payment was made requires delivery to an address other than the one given initially. They may say that it’s a gift for someone or that they moved from the original address etc. Sellers must be very aware of this scam and mention in the description of the items that they will not deliver to any other address but the one it was mentioned at first, the reason being that EBay/PayPal will not cover the seller in a case of a non-receipt claim in a such situation. Many new sellers make this mistake mainly because they are willing to go the extra mile for their customers.

As you probably guessed already in this case scammers will open a non –receipt claim after item is sent and the seller will loose the case because PayPal and eBay don’t know if the seller or the buyer is the scammer in this case (the emails exchanged outside eBay don’t count as a proof). Also PayPal states clearly that they will not cover the seller when shipping to another address. Here’s a useful link with more info about EBay Seller Protection.

Non trackable carrier methods persuit

Many buyers –International ones in particular– will try to pursue you in sending them an item with First Class Mail or Priority Flat Envelope –which are cheaper but they also do not provide an online tracking #. Truth to be told you may use these services anyways as you don’t want to give up international shipping and using the other services may just imply that as they are very expensive (as of Jan 22nd 2012 USPS skyrocketed their international shipping fees). However keep in mind that using those services you taking the risk of dealing with a non-receipt claim on PayPal and you will loose the case.

I had a seller contacting me one day about a buyer which made such a claim to him and guess what-I had dealt with the same issue a week before with the same buyer.

To deal with this situation I took the following steps:

-Blocked buyers from several countries that I had issues with

-Blocked the suspicious buyers I have dealt with

-Send packages with online tracking as much as possible

-Insured my non-trackable items with ShipSaverInsurance (which I highly recommend).

Partial/Full refund request per defective item claim

One other buyer eBay scam that some buyers may try is claiming that the item you sent them is defective in some way and they ask for a partial refund and in some cases a full refund by opening a PayPal dispute.This type of scammers will try to threaten you with negative feed-back in emails outside EBay if you don’t give them some money back.While in many cases a defective item situation may actually be true, as a seller (especially the ones with an immaculate-or near to- feed-back) you must be aware that this may just be a scam and a result this type of situation must be dealt with very carefully .

I usually ask my customers very politely in this cases to send me a picture of the damaged item so we can work something out. In many cases they do and a partial refund is issued but in many other cases they just drop it.

Keep in mind –the catch is that they ask you for a partial refund to begin with and they throw the feed-back word somewhere in the email. If they refuse to send pictures simply ask them to send the item back for a full refund (where you will cover the return shipping costs) -they would not have no reason to do so if the item does not match their expectations and this is not a scam.

Return Fraud

Another type of scam is the return fraud. In this case a buyer opens a case with PayPal stating that the item sent is defective. While dazzled, as a good seller you will accept a return with the promise of a full refund upon receiving the item. Buyer sends you an item back that is similar to the one but not quite it (this can happen with electronics in particular).

Dealing with this type of scam is tough but to prevent it you can take many pictures of the item and insert them in the original listing (a picture of the serial number is also a great idea). This way you can compare the original item with the one it was returned to you in a case with PayPal. Contacting police is also an option in this case.

Bogus money orders or checks

Do not accept money orders or checks –or if you really want to- wait to ship the item until the payment is cleared with your bank. A scam that some buyers may try to pull is payment with a fake money order or check. They count on the fact that you will send the item right away(because you want to be a good seller with a good feed-back). Best idea is to use PayPal as a payment method and to follow their guidelines so you can be protected from such scams.

As I mentioned above these buyer scams on eBay must be dealt with diligence as in many cases your assumption of a possible scam may not be true.Read carefully the protection rules from EBay and Paypal (yes they are some important ones) Always look for the red flags ,be polite but do not leave the impression that you will do anything for a positive feed-back (even if you may eventually do just that by choice) as scammers will immediately take advantage of that.