11/16/13

Zero Feedback Con Artists Looking for Suckers on eBay

I've been saving jpg pictures of items that sold on ebay and that we did not buy but were sold at auction for thousands of dollars. The images that I saved are of the kinds of items that interest us such as exceptional antique mechanical banks, antique toys, animated cap guns. In most cases we had bid on the items so we remember them well. Initially I saved the images because they were great examples of those specific items. But then having the images saved turned out to be useful when I saw the exact same images again in listings posted by zero feedback buyers who did not own the items.

What has been occurring on eBay is that some with larceny in their heart also save the images from listings that have sold for thousands of dollars along with the descriptions from these listings. Some time later these exact same images and descriptions appear again in eBay listings being offered for sale by auction by zero feedback sellers. This happens not only in the categories that interest us but in any category where there are items sold for thousands of dollars. Jewelry, designer purses, coins, dolls, any item that has sold or can be valued at a lot of money. The minimum bid for the item offered by the zero feedback seller (or low feedback seller) is always very low in relation to the item's true value.

Often the item is listed as being for sale with returns accepted which gives the appearance that if someone buys it and doesn't like it that they can get their money back if they return it. But the intention of the alleged seller is not to sell it on eBay. What they are hoping is that someone will write them a message and offer them money to sell it to them off of eBay. When they get a high enough offer and terms of payment that satisfy them, they end the listing and collect the money.

If they actually "sold" it on eBay and the buyer paid them through Paypal, the buyer could get their money back when the item failed to arrive. But if the seller gets them to sell it off of ebay, which is what the seller wants, and the buyer pays with a form of payment that offers no protection, the buyer will be out of luck when the item never comes.

On ebay there is a link on each listing where you can report an item to eBay when you know that there is fraudulent intent. I have reported the listings where I know that the seller does not own the item that they are offering for sale. More often than not eBay does not end the listing. I know of one case where a listing came down that I reported and was apparently ended by eBay but only one. I am sure that other users of eBay are reporting bogus listings too as there are a lot of bidders who have seen the same listings that I have seen back when the listings were of the same items when they truly were for sale. I am sure that the actual purchasers of those items have seen the bogus listings. I don't know if they have reported them but I can hope that they have. I feel sure that I am not the only one reporting bogus listings!

Once the auction begins, the zero feedback seller lets bids come in and the listing ends days before its scheduled ending time. The scenario that I imagine has happened is that the overly optimistic buyer believes that they have convinced the seller to sell the item off of eBay for a price that is low in relation to what the item is worth. The buyer pays according to the seller's terms. The item never arrives. The buyer is left with no item, without the money that they paid and with almost no recourse other than contacting the police to see if they can get them to go after the cons who could be anywhere in the U.S. or maybe even outside of the U.S.

There is some chance that there are savvy ebayers who play around with the con artists, convince them to take the listing down, and then just never send the money. What is the con artist going to do then? Complain to eBay or the police?

I don't know if that ever happens as I have no way of knowing exactly what occurs after the seller closes the listing. I hope that it isn't always a case of a buyer losing money.

There was one time that a low feedback Florida seller took an image from one of our pricier listings and then used it along with other stolen images to create a listing that appeared to be offering something for a bargain price. I sent messages to ebay and to others whose images also were being used. The listing was not taken down. The listing ran its course and the "winning" bidder in that case eventually left a negative feedback for the seller that indicated that the seller was a thief. I know for sure that the seller did not own the item as the item was ours.

There is an old saying that if it looks too good to be true, it often is. The hope of getting a great bargain gets people to take foolish risks when they see what looks like a steal on ebay and then they lose their money. If the situation looks too good to be true, don't fall for it!

Do business in a straightforward honest manner. That makes it much much harder for a con to get the upper hand.

Ginny