How to Spot and Avoid an eBay Scam

Ebay Scams Featured

While eBay is the biggest online yard sale, it’s not free from scams. Sellers and buyers alike set up scams to catch each other unaware. Fortunately, there are ways that you, as a user, can spot and avoid these scams.

Let’s cover some of the more prolific scams and how to beat them.

Fake Graphics Card Listings

We’re not talking about a fake card in itself; you won’t receive a GTX 1080 made out of cardboard! In fact, you won’t receive anything at all, which is what makes this scam so nasty.

Ebay Scams Card

Some scammers, keen on capitalizing on the high GPU prices due to data-mining rigs, are listing high-end graphics cards for a bargain price. They sell the graphics cards for around $100, which causes people to take notice. This is expensive enough to not arouse suspicion yet cheap enough to cause buyers to flock to the seller.

These fake listings will never ship out a product. They’re set up by hackers that breached a legitimate seller’s account and used it to publish listings for graphics cards they never had.

How to Spot It

First things first; if it’s too good to be true, it is! While eBay is great for finding second-hand GPUs on the cheap, anything that’s too big a bargain shouldn’t be trusted.

For this scam, looking at the seller’s reputation isn’t foolproof. Hackers will use this scam on abandoned accounts with high ratings, which gives the illusion that it’s reputable.

If you suspect foul play, look at the scammer’s listings. If you see a tidal wave of cheap graphics cards, you have a scammer on your hands!

The Empty Box Scam

Ebay Scams Empty

Sometimes a product will have a listing at a decent price, but you’re not buying the item itself. Instead, you’re purchasing the box that the product originally came in. The seller ships the box as-is and claims that the sale went as stated in the product description.

How to Spot It

For this scam to work, the seller has to clearly state that they’re selling you a box. If they say you’re getting a real product and then send you only a box, you can legitimately claim false advertising and reverse it.

As such, take a good look at any and all listings before you buy them. Read the full description and see what you’re buying. If the listing says you’re buying just the box, get out!

Taking the Listing Away from eBay

eBay does have a wide range of anti-scam precautions to protect its sellers and buyers. This is a particularly big pain for scammers, who can’t perform their trade if they’re caught and removed. The solution: take the listing away from eBay where their anti-scam measures can’t touch them.

Ebay Scams Redirect

Let’s say you bid on an item on eBay. It’s at a good price, and the listing seems legitimate. However, before the bidding ends, the product vanishes. You chalk it up to the seller second-guessing themselves, but then you receive a message.

The seller will claim that something happened on the listing; for example, there was an eBay glitch, or the admins took the listing down. Not to worry, though; the seller will honor the original deal you made with them. They will then give you an alternate way to pay them that doesn’t use eBay.

How to Spot It

This one is simple; if someone tries to settle things outside of eBay, refuse! To get the anti-scam benefits that eBay provides, you have to play by their rules. The moment you leave that domain, a scammer can do whatever they please and get away with it.

If a seller tries to redirect you off of eBay’s official selling and payment methods, sternly state that the sale can only take place on eBay. If they don’t comply, do not pay a single penny!

The Way of eBay

eBay has a lot of anti-scam precautions, but that doesn’t mean scammers can’t operate on it. Now you know three of the sneakier scams and how to dodge them.

Have you or someone you know been scammed on eBay? Let us know.

Simon Batt
Simon Batt

Simon Batt is a Computer Science graduate with a passion for cybersecurity.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox