Scammers And Fake Listings On Ebay

There are so many frauds going on in the internet, and that is just sad because it makes the experience of using certain services worse for everyone. Once in a while I do find blatant scams, and recently it happened on Ebay again. I purchased a new guitar recently (not on Ebay) and I am happy with it, but I still have some other guitars on my radar if the price would be right. Of course, Ebay is a great place to find bargains, and especially with guitars we’re currently in a buyers market, which means you really could find guitars incredibly cheap but used on Ebay. That’s why I am still subscribed to some Ebay search-terms like “Fender Stratocaster” and so on. I could bid or not, you maybe get my point, because it doesn’t cost me anything to get Ebay notifications via Email to maybe take a look. I am just checking listings. Yes you should check out instruments in a store, but we’re speaking about four times less the price on Ebay.

Fender Stratocaster

That’s what I did a few times now, I just looked over the new auctions that are interesting for me. If you are interested in blogging, search engine optimization and online marketing in general, you definitely have some skills that are helpful on Ebay as well. And in some cases it doesn’t even take to be an expert with search engines, sometimes you just need to understand the simple tools like Google. If you don’t already, you will soon understand what I mean. Of course there are tons of things you can check to decrease the chance to become a victim of a fraudster on Ebay, there is always still a chance to get issues, but you absolutely have to do your homework before you bid. And as mentioned in my first paragraph, you sometimes spot a fraudster with fairly simple tools.

Something that really annoys me is if people don’t draft their own article descriptions, and if they just copy paste something from the manufacturer’s website. I mean item specifications are a nice addition to the description, but if that’s all what they have there, it appears super strange. And it’s so easy to spot, you just need your brain and your eyes. That still doesn’t mean they are scammers, they might just be super lazy individuals that forgot how to write in their own words, and that’s fine because you can just move on if you’re not interested to purchase something from a lazy person. But my whole point is, what if it’s not just a lazy person? Have you ever thought about this? And now I come back to the fairly simple tools like Google.

We all use Google every day and I do now tell you why it makes sense to use it during research on Ebay as well. The truth is, in some cases there are scammers behind listing with full copy paste descriptions. Mainly, because they have no individual long story to tell you about the item, because they don’t even have the item, nor did they ever use it. Just recently I copied a longer text passage of a listing, and put it into Google, and imagine what happened? I found the exact same description on another classifieds website. That still doesn’t have to say anything, but not only the same text was used, but also the exact same photos of the guitar. Doesn’t mean anything either, but you know what?

The guitar on the classifieds site was somewhere near Berlin according to the listing, and the item from Ebay would come from Memmingen far away in the South. A long distance between two guitars that are the same. Someone either knows more about quantum mechanics than all physicists on our planet and was able to teleport a copy of that guitar to another place, or I just spotted a fraudster. I checked the listing date and it appeared that it was first listed on the classifieds website, and later on Ebay. That raised the suspicion that the person on Ebay just copied the photos and article description from the classifieds listings. See, this is one of the many simple things you can check before you bid. And if you spotted a fraudster, you could just close the tab and looking for other sellers that are not fraudsters, but here comes my next point. Don’t move on, take the time to kick the bastard in the ass. Why?

Because I truly believe that services like Ebay are damaged not just by scammers, but also by people who don’t take their time to research and report swindler. Reporting might take some of your time, but it helps everyone. You, me, everyone could be the next victim and pay someone who owns a stolen credit card and created a fake Ebay listing a couple of hundred dollars or more. You can’t move on, and nobody should. Everyone should take the time to report these idiots that will arrive in jail sooner or later anyway. I reported both listings, just to be sure that there won’t be a victim. Both listing on both sides got taken down. I still believe just one person was the fraudster, the other not. But as said, that is collateral damage. The real owner of the guitar will be able to prove anyway that his listing was legit. What counts is that one trap was demolished. And I know, scammers will not stop unless they get into jail, but maybe you get my point, if I would have selfishly moved on, someone else would have been victim of the fake listing on Ebay. These scammers would have a much harder time if every single person would hunt them down with all available tools.

By the way. Google Text Search is not your only weapon. You can actually upload pictures to Google with the Google Image Search. What that means is that you basically could find out if the images used in the Ebay listing are taken by the person, of if they have been used on tons of different websites. A person who puts up a fake listing doesn’t really have the item of course. This is why they don’t write a personal text, even if some might try. But this is also the same reason why they rely on stolen images as well. Both image and text search are already pretty good weapons in your arsenal. In the future I might write a list of additional things you can do to minimize the risks to become a victim on Ebay, because as said there are many more things you can check and do. But at the end I give you one more tip anyway. Always check if PayPal payment is allowed, because with PayPal you have incredible buyers-protection because you could request charge backs if something went wrong!

Don’t see this post here as a guide or checklist. I might write one in the future. I just wanted to rant about the fact that you need to look twice before you buy, and while I did that, I also wanted to explain a few ways to expose scammers on Ebay. And again, since these scammers don’t actually own the items, they rely on stolen images or copied text descriptions. Which is why a simple Google search can be very effective. But I want to make clear, if you don’t have it to do with a stupid scammer, this still might not be enough. At the end there is always a risk involved if you don’t trade in person. However, risks can be everywhere. I just can’t stress enough, if one listing on Ebay is truly interesting, you need to go full OC with your investigation. Services like Ebay are sadly used by scammers, this is why it is important to research and report those you exposed.


19 thoughts on “Scammers And Fake Listings On Ebay

  1. My father bought a expensive camera on ebay and he never saw the camera — or the money — again — and that was more than a dozen years ago. Sadly, this isn’t new.

    1. Definitely not new. My grandpa got scammed on Ebay and lost about 2k Euro and that happened many years ago. Fortunately the scammer was one of the stupid ones and got caught. But my grandpa never saw the money again because the scammer declared insolvency if I remember right, or had no money. But that guy got trouble with the law, which is great. You have these dull scammers that don’t even change profile names, use them on other services or profile pictures and stuff like that. That’s where Google is really handy. Sadly there are also tons of smart scammers, using VPN connections, cryptocurrencies, individual fake accounts, stolen credit cards and stuff like that. And these are the ones that will sadly never get caught, or it’ll take time until they make a mistake. Those guys are sadly also smarter than the police, which has difficulties to keep up with technology anyways.

      That’s why I said, there is always a risk. But it can be a bit minimized if you go full OC and investigate where the photos are from, the text… by using PayPal so that you could possibly make a chargeback on the scammer.

      1. I won’t buy or sell anything on ebay anymore. Too many scams and people selling garbage with fake descriptions … and no warranties, guarantees or backup. Even though things are often much less money there, I just won’t do it anymore. It’s a pity. For decades they have been promising to get serious about making sure that what is being sold IS what is being described … and that there is actually someone with the item who exists and is going to make sure you get it. It’s all just too loose and lacking in legal restrictions.

        1. For low price items I sometimes risk it. I think I had my 50mm lens from Ebay for super cheap and it worked. For high price items I won’t risk it either unless the stuff is somewhere around my city and the seller claims it would be possible to take a look. That’s what I do with the guitars currently.

          Anyway, you’re right, it’s sadly super risky due to all these fraudsters exploiting us and services like Ebay. I am glad that I don’t have to scam people to be happy in my life, and I am pretty sure those that scam others are low-lifes and not happy.

  2. Very informative post. Hopefully this will prevent others from being scammed. I was the victim of an EBay scam once. I also wrote a post about it, you can check it out on my blog if you are interested.

    1. The sad truth is that it can’t be fully prevented. But yeah, the risks can be minimized. It’s always good to research the listings. And PayPal can be a nice protection too but I think in-person trades are always the best.

      It’s sad that it happened to you. It seems you don’t have a search box on your blog but I found your article via Google and will read it.

  3. Very good post Dennis. Everyone who uses eBay and other online selling sites needs to be aware of the risks. It would be good if you did write a post about it. As you say if people don’t speak up and report things they think are suspicious these people get away with it. My sister and I wrote a similarly themed post for our doll blog some time ago but we were dealing more with the subject of sellers who give false or innaccurate information about the item they are selling and the necessity of doing proper research before you buy. As we collect old stuff it’s helpful to know that some sellers deliberately age replica items by scratching them or making them look weather worn. It goes without saying that whether you are buying a doll, a guitar or a vintage household appliance it pays to know about things like makers marks, country of manufacture etc and to see how much the item has been sold for recently. There is at least one doll seller on eBay who is selling dolls for several times the market rate. Of course sellers can make mistakes and I’ve sometimes contacted them to correct their descripition of a doll if it is really wrong. In all but one case they have been grateful, the other still insisted her facts were right after several messages back and forth so I had to give up but she didn’t sell the doll so I think I made my point.

    1. I did put this into my to-do-list since this would be a more planned and cleaner post compared to a spontaneously written opinion- or experience post like this one. I will write this at some point because there are definitely some tricks to at least minimize the risks.

      What you wrote about the vintage dolls is interesting because there is a large demand for vintage guitars as well. There are modern vintage guitars, build in our age but aged… that’s a new trend and legit because it’s clearly explained by the brands. These are legit new guitars, just with a “road-worn” look, replicas of old times, as many guitarists like it. Serial number and name will distinguish them from the really old ones. But then you have scammers in this market too, private persons who say they have a real 1960 Stratocaster or Les Paul from the 60`s or 70`s. They take a cheap body of a guitar, add an original Fender or Gibson headstock on it, cheap electronics and someone who doesn’t know a lot about guitars might fall for it, paying a fortune for a guitar that is no more worth than $300 if at all. Chinese people are big in it too at the moment.. people funnily call them Chipsons… wordplay of China and Gibson. Fake, trademark violation and scam. But once someone fell for it, they might be passed along as real Gibsons. There are some cool videos on YouTube, how to spot fakes. But of course it gets more and more difficult, but for beginners it is anyways.

      I am happy with my new Guild Bluesbird guitar from the store. Was still cheap, high quality, nothing to do with Gibson or Fender at all. Just a really nice alternative:

      But I am still monitoring other guitars. Before the purchase in the store I watched through second hand listings, especially locally. There was this one guy claiming he would own an American Fender Stratocaster 50th Anniversary Limited Edition from 2004. But serial number on the headstock showed it was just a Standard Strat, much less worth. He was really pissed when I wrote him this. His guitar was still great, it was just not what he thought and I was not sure if he wanted to scam people. I reported him and the listing was taken down. I show no mercy when I see stuff like this after they get upset, because I believe everyone started somewhere and a beginner could easily fall for this. Like you, I thought it was his mistake, but he was really angry and wrote like a typical scammer.

      There are so many traps online, no matter where we buy. You really need to know your stuff… that’s the case with your doll, and my guitar interest.

      1. Yes, I’m not surprised to hear there are people passing guitars off as vintage when they are not. Naomi told me of a similar ruse with record players. You can buy replica record players with the ear trumpets, they are made from old record player parts and replica trumpets I think, not good quality, more for decor. Naomi bought one in a store as antique ones cost too much. She knew it was a replica so was happy. However, she told me that some eBay sellers pass these things off as antique . People think they are getting a cheap antique but really they are getting a high priced fake. So the moral is really if something looks too good to be true it probably is.

        1. Yeah, it’s sad how this happens and we just spoke about three examples here. It’s probably the same with stamps and many other things that could be passed away as fakes for a very high value. I wish we would live in a fair world, then services like Ebay would work to 100%, but that’s probably just naive dreaming. But fraudsters really destroy services like this one for all of us.

          I do currently sell a graphics card on Ebay and it runs out soon, and I hope there won’t be a deadbeat bidder, because these are a big problem too. I never understand why someone would bid without actually wanting what you sell… My mother had this happen several times as she said. These are probably trolls, wanting to annoy other people. I won’t give my card away before someone actually paid me. If something goes wrong, I’ll contact Ebay.

        2. Exactly. Me too. But I usually only risk it with low price items. In the case of the guitar I look for auctions close to my city. Too much risk involved otherwise. But I am just looking anyway, I do now have two guitars and I am not stressed to get a third 😀

          Last really good trade was my 50mm lens. Super cheap, perfect condition.. that was an example where it worked.

  4. Great info. I never purchase anything from other people on sites like Ebay and Amazon etc. I do use a site in our country though; I guess I just feel more safe that way.

    1. Amazon is pretty safe if you buy from Amazon directly. I usually look if it’s a third-party seller on Amazon, or if Amazon sells it directly from their own stock… directly is much better. But I am like you, if there is no big price difference, I either try to get what I want in local stores, or in very well established local online stores that everyone trusts. Especially when there is just a price difference of let’s say 20-30 Euro, I would still rather buy it in a local store, because warranty is much easier too because you could bring it back to the store in case of an issue.

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