3 Sep 2013

Some common ways eBay sellers are committing fraud

I was recently bidding on a kids bike on eBay. I was the only bidder and winning at 0.99p. However, with only a few hours to go before the end of the auction, the bid was suddenly cancelled. The reason - "This listing was ended by the seller because the item is no longer available."

I did not think much about it until the next day when I happened to drop by the old link and noticed some suggestions below. One of them was the exact item with nothing changed. The starting bid was 0.99p again.

Apparently some unscrupulous sellers on eBay are using this technique to avoid selling their items at a low price. The starting bid is 0.99p in order to avoid having to pay charges to eBay, which you have to if you put the starting bid higher or put in a 'buy-it-now' price.

One way some sellers try to avoid paying fees to eBay is to end the bidding and contact the highest bidder directly and arrange the transactions outside of eBay.

Another way some eBay sellers are committing fraud is by opening up multiple accounts and starting bidding wars to boost the price of the products they are selling. I think eBay is aware of this and I read in the newspapers sometime back about some sellers being fined for bidding on their own products.

However, another similar way that sellers boost their prices are by using families, friends or associates to bid on the item for the same reasons. I sometimes noticed the same people bidding for products from the same seller and it did raise some red flags but I never bothered to raise an alarm because they might actually be genuine collectors (this particular seller was specialised in vintage watches). I guess this is much more difficult to detect especially if they are bidding from different places (with different IP addresses) and even more so now that bidders' accounts appear private on listings.

Do you know of other ways some unscrupulous eBayers are getting away with fraud?

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