ebay seller scams

Scammers will use any viable platform to swindle blameless people out of their money or goods, and eBay is numbered among them. scammers have used eBay since its 1995 inception. eBay expects a lot of transparency from the buyer and the seller, but it’s comparatively easy for that trust to be abused. The company has put in some defences, but you can do a lot to shield yourself as an eBay user – keeping eBay seller scams at bay.

This guide will advise you about the most widely encountered eBay scams, what to look for, and how to safeguard yourself. 

Surprisingly, many eBay scams are not aimed at innocent buyers looking for a fair deal. Instead, scammers will masquerade as buyers, using consumer protection measures to swindle honest sellers.

Here are some of the most routine ways eBay sellers are fleeced.                    

Private deal trotted out outside the confines of eBay

A buyer may espy your item and offer private payment instead of using eBay’s official payment channels. They may try to foist upon you the reasoning that when sales are conducted offsite, the seller (you) can dodge transaction fees payments. So you conclude the listing and send the item. Regrettably, it does not pan out well, for either they don’t pay, or they contest the transaction with eBay, alleging the item was broken or that the listing was a bogus item.

Overpayment stab                      

If you have a sale item, a potential buyer may get in touch with you and proffer to pay over the asking price. Albeit too generous to pass up, the offer’s a trap. The buyer will pay with a fake check. You send the item promptly, but when you come to know the check has bounced, you are left empty-handed.

Changed address

This scam is a new variant on the overpayment offer. A buyer will offer to buy your item and send a larger payment than asked for. They say it’s to cover extra shipping costs, as they suddenly need it sent to a foreign country. The scammers will also request your PayPal email address. Subsequently, you’ll be contacted by scammers purporting to be from PayPal, asking for postal tracking numbers. The email gives out that the payment will be made out to you once you have proven that the goods have been sent. 

 Empty box claim

In this instance, the purchase may be completed flawlessly. The buyer pays promptly, and you send the item without worries. However, the buyer receives the item but alleges you sent an empty box – in other words, accuses you of fraud. eBay will insist on a return, and the buyer returns the empty box, keeping the item and the money as it’s refunded.

Buyer alleges the item wasn’t received

PayPal Seller Protection is meant to help sellers trade confidently online. For it to work, sellers must furnish proof of item delivery. If the shipped item was sold for less than$750, delivery notification is sufficient proof. If the item is sold for $750+, the item must sport signature delivery proof. Crack scammers know this and may well befool sellers ignorant of this extra burden of proof requirement. 

Broken replica scam

A buyer gladly purchases your item. Once payment is assured, you ship it swiftly. In this scam, the buyer then alleges that you have sent a damaged item. They may even furnish photos of the broken item. Unbeknownst to you, the item is a doppelganger of the one sent. The buyer can report the item as impaired to eBay and obtain a refund. This effectively suckers you out of your item as well as the payment.

Uncalled-for chargeback

A scammer doesn’t have to try too hard to steal your money, as most transaction sites are designed to shield the buyer. If you successfully conclude a transaction and the buyer pays with a credit card or PayPal, they can get in touch with the provider and scarp the transaction. The money will be recovered from you. To crown it all, PayPal will charge you with an extra chargeback fee (that’s $20 for PayPal, individual credit card companies differ). The scammer only needs to insist they suspect something was wrong.

Feedback extortion

Since eBay works as an interceder between private buyers and sellers, the idea of erecting an online reputation on the site is essential. Each transaction allows both buyers and sellers to publish public feedback about the experience. It’s generally not wise to trade with lousy feedback accounts. Fully in the know of this, some scammers will buy from you and then insist money be sent through private means so that negative feedback won’t be left on your account. Such shenanigans are a type of blackmail. 

Avoiding eBay fraud

 It’s essential to be vigilant when buying or selling on the eBay platform. 

Here’s how to sidestep eBay scams:

  • Never take checks as payment. It’s somewhat hazardous as they are often a target for fraud. If you do take checks, wait until they clear. Once you have deposited a check, the balance will show in your account, but the verification could take a couple of weeks. If you dispatch the parcel before the check clears, it could leave you with an empty bank account and no item. Only use approved eBay payment methods.
  • Besides photographing everything, try to record any distinctive details about the item specifically if the item is expensive, famous, or desirable (such as new cell phones or gaming consoles). Jot down any serial numbers or unique codes.
  • Always organise a tracking number for any deliveries you send. If the item is worth $750+, scheme out for signature on delivery. The signature covers you for PayPal Seller Protection (but not unavoidably other payment methods to be had through eBay). Use the highest security tracking you consider to be fitting for the item’s value. Do not forget that the more proof you can arrange, the more secure your transaction will be in the case of a double-dealing dispute.
  • You should be able to contest a chargeback with the bank if you think it’s duplicitous but be ready to furnish proof. PayPal Seller Protection also has mechanisms to safeguard yourself against spurious chargebacks, so don’t hesitate to dispute one if you think it’s incorrect. It is savvy to issue a refund if you have an unhappy customer. It will only cost you the amount of the item, rather than the extra costs of chargeback fees if the customer takes the matter up with their financial institution.


eBay can be a safe place to buy and sell, provided you know the safety measures. eBay unquestioningly cooperates with law enforcement, advising scammed users to make a police report. The eBay Security Centre makes available info on how such reporting ought to be done, in addition to how eBay conducts itself in such scenarios. There’s a provision for reporting an issue with a seller directly to eBay. You can also report dubious listings directly to eBay. Even buyers are within the ambit of this kind of ‘policing’ – fair and square. 


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