What are the scams experienced by eBay sellers?

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The vast majority of eBay sales are successful. They must be, because otherwise eBay wouldn’t exist. And it’s true that most online sales are successful too. Amazon, eBay and PayPal have schemes in place that protect people that sell online.

But now I’m dredging here. What are the the scams that eBay et al sellers experience? I have a few ideas but why don’t you help me out with more examples?

The Not Delivered Scam
The seller sends something untracked and then the buyer claims it was never delivered. Often related to low value items, the buyer makes a claim to eBay, Amazon or PayPal and gets the refund and the seller is shouldered with the bill. Obviously, the item was sent. The buyer is trying it on and usually the seller is out of pocket.

The Returns Scam
An item is bought and is declared phoney by the buyer. And then the item returned is not what was sent. That sexy camera that comes back is very much less good than the one sent. But the marketplaces are unable to judge that. Great item comes back as shit product and the seller has to shoulder the cost. How many sellers know that one?

The Dodgy payments scam
An item is bought and the buyer asks it to be sent to anywhere but the official payment address. The buyer is in Birmingham (say) but it must be sent to Nigeria. The seller sends the items and discovers it’s not a protected transaction. Don’t do it.

Can you think of other scams?

85 Responses

  1. I can think of another scan :-

    Set up an internet auction site.

    and then….

    Make the sellers pay for everything.
    Only allow buyers to leave negative feedback
    Always find in the buyers favour in disputes
    Tell buyers on every page they can get their money back
    Force sellers to use payment service which you (used to) own
    Keep cranking up the fees
    Start taking a cut of sellers postage charges
    Spend nothing on the site so it keeps crashing
    Go offshore, Luxembourg will do, to avoid tax and avoid regulation

  2. The ebay customer services scam , has to be the biggy,
    without going into detail so as not to promote the various scams, a savvy buyer only needs to contact ebay customer services with a fantasy complaint or problem
    And they often get their money back and keep the goods

  3. You also forgot the EMPTY BOX scam.

    Buyer in the USA claimed we’d sent him an empty box in 2011.

    Even sent a photo of the “empty” box !!!

    Provided full tracking and shipment to Ebay, including evidence showing 2.4kg parcel weight.

    Guess what?

    Ebay found in favour of the buyer

    We tried to claim off the carrier, but they understandably refused as the item had been delivered.

  4. The empty box scam!
    The partial refund scam!
    The item not as described scam!
    the keep and use for weeks then refurn scam, are endemic

    There are many more but were not going to advertise them
    Its not the scams that hurt its the lack of protection from ebay

  5. Then there’s the PAYPAL scam.

    If a dodgy buyer has the misfortune to suffer a rare refusal by Ebay to refund, they simply open a Paypal case, which they will win 100% of the time.

    This has 2 benefits for the scammer:

    1. Cases opened on Paypal (avoiding Ebay) don’t show up in Ebay’s records, as Ebay and Paypal don’t talk to each other.

    2. Whilst Ebay “may” have a limit on the number of times you can say item not received, Paypal don’t. So you can do it repeateadly and get away with it.

    We got scammed this way.

    Ebay response: it’s a paypal matter, speak to them.
    Paypal response: it’s an Ebay matter, talk to them.

  6. Then there’s the CHARGEBACK scam, again on paypal.

    This is where a buyer pays via paypal through their credit card.

    Suddenly, though long after you sent the goods, you get a chargeback notificiation from Paypal.

    Here, the scammer doesn’t even have to say they haven’t had the goods.

    They just say they didn’t “authorise” it.

    Paypal will then suck the money out of your account and then charge you an additional £14 to “fight” the chargeback, which you will always lose, but still have to pay the £14, which is insult to injury.

    This can be done any time up to about 300 days after the transaction.

  7. Its ebays if you die your innocent if you live your guilty attitude thats the problem,
    You cant protect yourself from ebay scams if your bound gagged and blindfolded with those you pay to protect beating you at the same time

  8. I think the returns scam should be added to the list.

    During returns process, buyer claiming “item not as described”, when they “just didn’t like it” or “didn’t want it any more” thus forcing the seller to accept and pay for the cost of the return postage. Probably not done intentionally all the time, but still as annoying.

  9. While we are on the subject, is there any sharing of block list information anywhere? I would be interested, we have a huge ebay id block list and would be more than welcome to share this. The more we can do to protect ourselves from these fraudsters, the better.

  10. Recent headlines about amazon banning a buyer for repeated returns,
    Anything from ebay ? Not a chance,
    No clarity , no openess just vague prattle about how we protect you in many ways , no real evidence no facts or figures anyone can see the detail of

  11. The international return label scam
    Buyer claims not as described
    Buyer escalates because your unable to provide a return label
    Buyer gets refunded and keeps the goods

  12. FWIW our ‘The Not Delivered Scam’ numbers have virtually dropped to zero since we started using those fake tracking barcode labels.

  13. The
    multiple purchase scam. Order multiple items claim one missing and get refunded on all
    The german & italian tracking scam
    Just enter any tracking number without sending and get refund

  14. Order most anything from a low value seller claim non delivery and another arrives or a refund sometimes both

  15. And here’s a nice list of tips to get scammers started. This is a public forum where both sellers and non-sellers can browse ?

  16. Why on earth would you want to advertise on here ways scammers can get away with things?

    it’s hard enough trying to be one step ahead of them without asking us to give away how we do it and on a public forum too!

    yep very clever!

    well done Tamebay!

  17. I wouldn’t really call this a scam, just a bit dishonest, but a buyer once said the item (a CD-ROM containing a computer program) had arrived damaged, and sent me a photo. I looked closely at the photo and the CD had a hole in it about 4-5mm in diameter. No way the postie did that, unless he’d been shot with a .22 air rifle and the CD stopped the round for him.

    To this day I am convinced the buyer’s dog got to the letterbox first and used his armour-piercing teeth on the package.

    I simply sent the buyer a new one and everything was tickety-boo, except of course the the buyer was in the USA so I had to re-pay the quite expensive postage; more or less wiped out my profit margin.

    Such is life in this business.

    I had a good laugh about it, though 😉

  18. This is a stupid idea. If someone is searching for information about ebay I hope this doesn’t come up for future scammers to see. Maybe now you’ve got a bit of list Tamebay should remove all these comments???

  19. What prize clown thought up this idea for a post?

    “Oh, eBay is rife with scammers, lets give them some more tips on methods to defraud they they hadn’t already come up with”.

    Just goes to show that both the lead writers on this site have NOTHING to do with daily activity on eBay now, and are so out of touch as to not understand WHAT they are doing can sometimes be harmful rather than helpful.

  20. Can’t believe my eyes!

    What next – tips on how to rob a bank, or the best way to mug old ladies in the street?

  21. Scam buyers are just part of selling on eBay what is more annoying is lack of action when buyers are scamming seller after seller reporting seems to make no difference the scammers just keep buying and eBay turns a blind eye.

    Here is an example of one of these buyers still buying and still scamming


    By not taking action ebay are encouraging buyers to keep scamming and telling their friends how easy it is in the long term it will be ebay who suffers as nobody will use the site to sell anything worthwhile.

  22. Ebay scams:

    How about eBay selling you Collect Plus labels and then nobody providing a VAT invoice for the tax you have paid.

  23. Some great tips here thanks guys, I’ll be sure to try them all out, some I hadn’t even thought of.

    May I also nominate this piece of ‘journalism’ as the irresponsible article of the month?

  24. While we’re swapping crime tips in public on the internet, can someone please tell me the best way to hot-wire a BMW I’m thinking of stealing?

    This whole article is irresponsible and idiotic. Please see sense and remove it completely.

  25. We closed our ebay shop at the end of March after three years as we can’t stand the hassle of fighting with ebay. If its not defects then it silly delivery estimates and fake INR.

    It’s no place to run professional business anymore. Ebay is run by idiots who have no idea how to run business but make policies designed to make them look good at the sellers expense.

    You would think they would work with the sellers but no, “It’s reach out to your buyer” and all that American crap they come out with even though some of the buyers are crooks. Glad we are out of it.

  26. get real folks scammers only need to google to get a list of ideas as long as a bog roll , keeping it to yourself is not working we should be critucal of those that allow it not those that reveal them

  27. Why dont Tamebay keep a webpage devoted to serial scammers…ive got 5 EbayID ready to go…We could all work together and block these idiot*

  28. It would be useful if sellers who encounter problems mention this in the buyers feedback. Whenever we have a non-receipt or problem we mention it with a comment such as ‘Sorry that your item did not arrive, you have been fully refunded/sent a replacement etc’

    The buyer can’t claim that the feedback is anything other than factual and correct and might, just might, stop them from making spurious claims in the future.

  29. >> The Returns Scam

    Related – the “Return To A Different Local Address” scam. Simply have eBay (ie. the seller) pay for the return lable, then change the house number (get fancy with photoshop, or just ink it in), and return whatever you want.

    Tracking then shows item delivered to seller from seller’s local sorting office, which is enough for eBay to refund and refuse any appeals. Normally you’d at least be able to say “they returned an empty envelope, here’s the evidence” but no, you have nothing, at all.

    This is still the best scam I’ve ever seen. The idiots claiming INR with everyone are far too obvious (“hi other seller, have you been scammed? oh really, and this one too?…”) and frankly simply amusing when eBay take no action regardless of the copious amounts of data they have showing this. At least the returns scam is at least sort of hard to proove.

  30. Facebook your bad buyers, it’s amazing how many flaunt their INR goods in selfies!
    We had a buyer claim INR on a footstool cover, low and behold it was in a facebook picture flaunting it to her friends, many likes and comments. eBay customer services is complete pants, after pointing out several cases of INR for the buyer and photos of goods on line, they still sided with her as the cover just didn’t have that all important tracking number.
    I have lost count how many times eBay have shafted our company and obviously hundreds to thousands of others. What bemuses me is why are the government and trading standards allowing eBay to run free over the law, they should be monitored more, investigated for fair operations and policies and penalised. Switch to Amazon!

  31. The number of scammers on eBay is tiny compared to the number of users the problem is eBay’s failure to act on these obvious scammers so the same scammers effect dozens of other users and give the site a bad name in the same way one bad family can give a street a bad name.

    Many of us are seasoned sellers who come across these scam buyers from time to time but look at the bigger picture and keep selling.

    When a new seller gets a glut of scammers in their first hand full of sales they quit the site tell all their friends how eBay ripped them off the damage is far greater than taking action against obvious scam buyers quickly throwing them off the site.

    eBay needs to take action but are too scared to throw a buyer off even though they lose dozens of other sellers/buyers because in eBay’s eyes buyers are always right even when the evidence its clear they are not.

    I also believe some small and new sellers turn in to bad buyers when they have become victims of a series of scam buyers and by been victims they have learnt all the methods of scamming others by not taking action the log term damage to the eBay brand will be worse.

    Amazon take action quickly and severely when a pattern of abuse is detected sometimes they get it wrong and the odd buyer is kicked off unfairly but as a venue its far safer to trade than eBay so who has the best policy as a business model it will be the one growing faster year on year.

    By ignoring one scam buyer and taking no action will lose eBay dozens of good customers this is not a long term business model why they cant see this is anyone’s guess.

  32. They say it all really no action from eBay a few obvious scammers effecting dozens of honest users and reporting the scammer makes no different eBay are not interested in making the site a safe place to trade then they wonder why eBay is not keeping up with the growth of other venues (Amazon)


    There must be some very inexperienced and naïve or really stupid people running eBay to not see what the effects of their failure to act is doing or they just don’t have a clue what’s happening on the shop floor either way they need to make changes fast and restore trust in the site before its too late.

  33. Worst one we had was a combination of:
    Empty box scam + fake post office claim form

    Posted an international order fully tracked.

    Buyer opened a item not received case a couple days later WHILE THE PARCEL WAS STILL IN TRANSIT. Buyer claimed box was empty.

    I provided tracking number to show it wasn’t even in their country.

    They escalated the case and said they opened the parcel at the post office in front of the clerk, and posted a scan of a fake claim form for empty package at their post office. At this point it still wasn’t even in their country.

    Few days later we have confirmed delivery online, but eBay refunds them anyway out of my own pocket.

    I appeal but ebay reject it because of the claim form the customer filled in (which they filled in a couple days before the actual delivery date) takes precedent over my online tracking and postal receipt.

  34. Ebay threw off all the EAN sellers a while back but as soon as they decided to make sellers put the numbers on they realised there was money to be made from EAN sellers and let them back.
    2faced springs to mind

  35. Just tried to buy some stuff from Dabs on eBay and they have closed guess they must have had enough of eBay and their scam buyers as well


    I wonder how many more sellers will turn their back on eBay before they start to address the problems of buyer fraud?

  36. Have I been scammed?

    Last month I sold a £40 brand new item of clothing with tags to the US. The customer requested a return as the item was smelly and had hair on the collar. Although the claim was false I accepted the return. The buyer escalated the claim saying the return postage would £45. I have checked this on google and I can not find a cheaper method of return.
    eBay CS say I can either send him a refund or send a returns label or send him a Paypal payment of £45 to cover the postage. If I do not do this then eBay will find in the buyers favour, issue a refund and file a “cases closed without seller resolution” case against me.
    The buyer has a feedback of 3.
    I have never had this happen before during 12 years on eBay

    I now have another similar return request. £38 pair of shoes sent to the US, buyer feedback 3, £45 for the return postage.


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