Is reporting eBay scammers to Action Fraud a waste of time?

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Talking of the news an eBay seller was scammed out of £54,000 when a hacker changed the payments email address on some of his listings, Tamebay reader Jim was scathing when it comes to reporting eBay scammers to the Police and in particular the Action Fraud website.

“Action fraud is a placebo, that does little if anything, it just deludes folk into thinking there is help available”
– Tamebay Reader Jim

Run by the City of London Police working alongside the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) who are responsible for assessment of the reports and to ensure that your fraud reports on reporting eBay scammers reach the right place, Action Fraud bill themselves as the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime where you should report fraud if you have been scammed, defrauded or experienced cyber crime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Basically, recognising that local police are ill equipped to deal with sophisticated cyber crime, Action Fraud acts as a clearing house for fraud including reporting eBay scammers, but a report out this week by The Times suggests that only a tiny fraction of reports are acted upon.

The Times suggests that to start with there are two types of reports. If you are scammed your report say the Times will instantly be classified as an “Information Report” (which definitely means nothing will happen) or a “Crime Report” (which means still could mean nothing will happen).

Once a report is filed, a computer algorithm decides if it is worth following up. The Times say that unless you have information as to the criminal (name, address, car registration number) the likelihood is, even if it’s classified as a crime report rather than an information report, that nothing will happen.

Out of half a million cases reported per year, 117,412 were chosen by algorithm last year to be looked at by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau. From these just 37,590 were forwarded to Police in England and Wales for investigation. Of these, 10,473 were solved leading to a charge, summons or caution. That’s a 7.5% chance that when you are reporting eBay scammers that your case will be investigated and around a 2% chance that your case will be solved.

“Every report we receive matters, it provides information to build a better picture of the scale of fraud in the UK, and to build up intelligence on fraud offences to aid police investigations and the development of counter-fraud initiatives. The more frauds reported, the more likely it is that related fraud reports will be matched and help identify lines of enquiry that can be pursued.”
– Action Fraud Statement

Based on this, it’s no wonder that Richard is disappointed at the lack of action from Action Fraud and the Police when reporting eBay scammers. As he has no idea who scammed him, or even if they are based in the UK, it would appear unlikely that the algorithm will choose his case for investigation. Action Fraud might not always be the ‘placebo’ that Jim called it, but for many that’s exactly what it does appear to be.

We’d still recommend reporting eBay scammers to Action Fraud, but as eBay and PayPal will do nothing until the Police approach them, coupled with Action Fraud only appearing to act on cases where the criminal’s name and address is given to them on a plate, it’s background noise and only a high incidence of reports is likely to get anything done.

11 Responses

  1. Total waste of time. Buyers get away with murder on Ebay.

    If I do not pay my tax bill I get time in prison. If buyers send back an empty box(s) as a return on Ebay they get their money back as long as it is within 30 days and the tracking shows delivered.

    The classic Ebay response – ” build it in to your business plan – there are dangers of selling online”. Absolute melts.

    Everyone I have met that is serious about e-commerce does not sell on Ebay.

    However it is a good platform for flushing out dead stock ! ( collection only ! )

  2. I had a case a royal mail director investigated proved postal fraud committed then buried.
    On the advice of local police I sent in a detailed report including the name of the bussiness that scammed me and a copy of royal mails investigation.

    Never heard a thing back seems action fraud are the real scammers taking tax payers money and doing nothing.

  3. Just had a buyer return an item claiming it to be fake, eBay found in the favour of the buyer and I appealed the decision.

    I won the appeal but not sure if eBay paid me or the buyer.

  4. in other words ,unless your in the premier league of fraudsters there is little to worry about from action fraud,
    if you are a premier league fraudster its probably risk effective

  5. Someone is selling a painting of mine on ebay without my authority or my consent.
    As far as I am concerned the painting was never sold so how did this seller acquire it?

  6. No I do not have my painting.
    The seller on ebay claims that it is in stock.
    Therefore I presume that they have it in stock.
    Yet the person with whom the painting was originally entrusted with was on the sole condition they could only display it, on there premises, for sale on behalf of the artist. Artist price wanted & Artists Contact details. Which have never changed. Artist received 0 for this painting. The person with whom my painting was entrusted with denies selling it. Yet somehow it appears on ebay for sale for £1000.00 just 83 days ago then reduced to £500. 00 or offers now.
    I have involved the Police who were very insistent that it is a civil matter to begin with and wanted to pass the buck.
    It is not a civil matter. It is theft, fraud and a breach of trust.

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