9 Top eBay Scams You Need To Know & Avoid

Selling items online on a marketplace platform is a great way to start a business, sell old items or add another income stream. However, some challenges arise due to the large number of scammers that have flooded the platforms. 

eBay is one of the more well-established marketplace platforms that has been around for decades. Although eBay is well-renowned, scamming on the platform is nothing new. Transactions on marketplaces like eBay require a lot of trust on both the buyer and the seller sides. Scammers usually take advantage of the high amount of trust that people have in others and come up with elaborate schemes to scam people out of their products and money. 

The company has invested in making the platform as safe as possible. However, there is always an off-chance that you may be faced with one of these scammers. This guide below will inform you about the most common ebay scams and how to avoid falling into the scammer’s traps. 

“The Package is Empty” claim

The empty package scam is quite prevalent on the eBay platform, with the seller usually ending up as the victim. Typically in this scam, the transaction runs smoothly and in a status quo fashion. So, as the seller, you have no red flags about sending your items to the buyer. However, it goes downhills once the buyer submits a claim that you send an empty package. Unfortunately, just like most other marketplaces eBay will quickly side with the buyer allegedly being “scammed” and issue a refund. This scam will leave you without payment or the item. 

This is especially bad if you sell high value items on eBay. You can try your best to mitigate this by keeping all evidence of shipment and possibly recording the shipping process as well. In the case of selling high value items you need to be really careful and potentially look into marketplaces where you can have a trusted middleman, for example: if you sell sneakers you can consider using stockX.

Sending misrepresented item

A scam that affects the buyer is when a seller misrepresents the item in the photos. Usually, eBay has buyer protection that will allow returns in this case. However, it may be challenging to prove that you have been deceived. Even so, If you win your claim, you may still be out of costs to send the item back. 

Counterfeit Goods

This scam piggybacks off of misrepresented items. However, in this case, this scam involves the sender selling an item with an apparent “luxury status” but sending a counterfeit. This is the issue with buying expensive, brand-name items online because there is no way to guarantee authenticity. 

When you think of a counterfeit you are probably thinking of some cheap looking designer knock offs. However, replicating luxury items has gotten very advanced these days. Many replica’s (or “Reps”) are almost indistinguishable from the real thing! and typical untrained buyers find it very hard to tell a fake from a real item!

These problems have brought rise to specialized marketplaces that take on the authentication role for luxury good such a stockX for sneakers.

You can usually spot these scams when the item is listed for considerably cheaper than the retail price. Even authentic pre-owned luxury items rarely ever go for a crazy discount. So, don’t think you automatically found a fantastic deal online for that designer bag you’ve been eyeing up; it is most likely a fake.

Off-Platform Payment Request

Another scam request that sellers must be aware of is when the buyer asks to take the transaction off the eBay platform. This is scam is common on many marketplaces, such as depop and more.

The anatomy of this scam includes these components

  • An excuse for not being able to pay on the site
  • Pushiness/Rationalization to pay off the site

Usually, they say some excuse involving wanting to skip eBays fees or that they are having technical difficulties. They typically try to convince you that going forward with the transaction in a private sale is best. However, their end goal is to scam you.

Going off your platform is not only a bad idea for your transaction security but also against eBays terms of service. Therefore, you will not be provided with seller coverage or assistance with the sale if you get scammed. Therefore, never use other payment methods outside of the eBay platform. 

Threatening Feedback Extortion

Successful eBay sellers have a strong level of social proof on their marketplace profile. In other words, those they have sold to in the past had a good experience and provided a favourable review, but not all sellers have long lasting history.

 In this scam, when a buyer receives the item they bought, they will complain that it is defective or misrepresented and request a partial or whole refund. In this case, the buyer refuses to send the item back but still demands a refund. They then will threaten you or will leave a negative review if you do not pay. 

If you are new to selling on eBay you may not know that this specific scam directly violates eBay regulations/terms.

Now that you do know this, you can request an audit of your dodgy conversion in hopes it will be evidence for eBay to delete the review. 

Deliberately shipping with incorrect label

Sending an item with incorrect labelling is a way that an ebay seller can scam a buyer out of their money. In these instances, the seller typically ships the item to the correct address but provides the wrong name. Therefore, when the buyer does receive the package, they assume it was meant for someone else and returns it to the sender. 

The seller can get away with this con because all they have to prove is that they shipped the delivered item. So, the item will be returned to the seller while they keep the payment as the transaction is finalized.

Overpayment offer

This scam is kinda convoluted and hard to catch if you’re not aware of what’s happening when it’s happening. Essentially the seller will fall victim to the buyer’s deceitfulness in this scam when they offer to pay a higher price than listed.

You may think, “who would want to pay more than the sticker price?” and the answer is those who are looking to scam you, don’t fall for any excuse about them “being in a hurry”. If something looks too good to be true it probably is, this advice will save you from several scams online and offline!

Essentially, the buyer will ask to take it off the platform by sending a check in exchange for you to ship the item. Unfortunately, the checks are typically fraudulent and will bounce after you have already sent the item. So, you will be left with no product or payment. 

Follow your gut instincts! remember the words above: If something looks too good to be true it probably is

Non-Delivery Scam

One of the benefits of using eBay is its money-back guarantee that protects buyers from fraudulent sellers. However, they do not guarantee that certain items will be covered. These items include: businesses for sale, real estate, certain business equipment, vehicles, classified ads, and websites. 

Scammers typically use this knowledge to their advantage when creating their schemes. So be aware when purchasing these items on eBay because if you do get scammed, there will be no recourse for the seller. 

Unwarranted Chargebacks

A common type of scam that does not take much effort on the buyer’s end is initiating a chargeback on the sale. They know that most transaction sites are to protect the buyer and use that to their advantage. So, if you use a site like Paypal for your transaction, they can easily cancel the transaction. Or, they can report the sale to their credit card company to charge back the transaction. Then, they only need to claim that that t transaction was fraud in some way, and the provider will most likely side with them. Therefore, the seller will be left without their product and the payment.

What You Can Do To Avoid Ebay Scams

eBay scams are prevalent, and even with the platform’s implemented precautions, you can still take action to safeguard yourself. First, you must be diligent on the platform and act cautiously when buying and selling. You never know who is on the transaction’s other side and their intentions. With that being said, here are some ways you can avoid scams on eBay:

Always Keep Business In the Platform

If you read the common scam above, you would probably notice that many scams would be avoided if the seller or buyer kept the transaction within the platform. So, keep business on eBay to not give the scammers a chance to play you. 

Keeping business and communication on the platform allows you to have a paper trail/record if something goes wrong!

Follow all Seller & Buyer Protection Rules

If you keep within the confines of the buying and selling policies that eBay has set, it will help you fight fraudulent transactions. 

Report Suspicious Activity

Don’t hesitate to report a conversation that raises your red flags. Let eBay’s customer service take care of the scam attempt.

Use Customer Service

Using the eBay support team as a resource, you can get clarity on certain situations. If a buyer is asking you to do something out of the norm, ask for advice. This can help you avoid unfortunate problems. 

Always Check Seller Reviews

Look at the seller feedback and ratings for social proof that their happy customers do exist! If there is good social proof on the seller’s page, the less likely they are to scam you. 

Dispute Chargebacks

Even though it might be a pain, get what is rightfully yours. Do not let scammers get away with taking your product and initiating a chargeback. Before you send the items, film a video of the item’s condition so you will have proof. Then dispute the chargeback with the transaction platform being utilized.

Most chargebacks are resolved in favour of the buyer and are regarded by most business owners as a “cost of doing business” but it is still possible to get some wins, you just have to make sure you give yourself a chance by responding.

Got Scammed? What’s Next?

Unfortunately, you may be at a loss depending on the type of scam. However, there are certain situations where you can take action. If the fraud is covered by the eBay seller protection policy, they can solve the problem in no time. However, in other situations and depending on the scale of the fraud committed, eBay may also need to involve law enforcement. When you get to this step in your case, make sure to report your experience to eBay and they will give you an idea of how to proceed and resolve the issue.