I have already written a guide to help protect buyers of coins and this seems to be reducing the incidents of these fake offers. However, buyers of high value goods such as mp3 players are also suffering and looking at eBay today and noticing that some people have actually completed transactions with these crooks, I have decided to write another guide.
The problem stems from the lack of eBay control and the fact that these crooks can place free fake listings on Chinese eBay.
Their most common current strategy is to create about 10 fake accounts, sell to or even buy from these accounts and then create the illusion of a positive rating of 10. When you look at the feedback, it has usually all been left on the same day and is often a laughable attempt to translate Chinese into English. The crook often has an eBay name that is a random combination of 8 letters and digits - such as ppvtd9fv and bwpb04s1, who are currently trying to steal your money!
A new variation of this scam is shown by tnrk6atr who appears to have registered in the Netherlands and states that the item is in Ireland - sorry they are another Chinese crook and this scam is a good example of how they are learning by their previous mistakes.
lekjia is another Chinese crook who registered in Australia: look at his laughable feedback, especially the first seller who actually claims to have received something!gfdsbvcxewq claims to be in Hong Kong and the sellers' feedback is the feedback that would have been left by buyers!
The original transactions that generated the so-called positives rarely have photographs and are never for the genuine buying or selling of high value goods. Look closely at what these crooks have sold, if anything and you will see that they have no track record for selling these goods.
A new variation on their scams has appeared today - 15 July 2006 - they create a real positive score by buying 1p information items. This is how f64g9fd87ger has generated a positive score of 14 but he is still just another Chinese crook.
All of these were removed by eBay after I reported them but more just keep crawling out of the woodwork but they tend to conform to the above patterns of behaviour or close variants, including making their feedback private.
As far as payment is concerned, they used to use the Western Union trick - you can never get your money back - NEVER use Western Union. It seems that eBay has finally acted on this and you will sometimes see a reference to the fact that the seller has no acceptable payment methods for the UK - I cannot say if this is the case for the US or elsewhere but these crooks have responded by using "other" as the payment method.
Occasionally they use PayPal who will take no action to close these accounts - I know because I phoned them and they were simply not interested. So, you may or may not be covered by PayPal.
Often these listings are for one day only - a practice that a real seller would not use as it would limit the number of bids likely to be received. These crooks use this because eBay Safe Harbor is so hopelessly slow that the crooks do stand a real chance of succeeding with their theft.
Sometimes the crook uses a low, if not a ludicrously cheap "Buy It Now" option so that they get your money before eBay takes any action. Ask yourself, why would a real seller have to sell the most popular goods at knockdown prices?
Since the "items" are sometimes the UK specification such as a GPS with UK maps, what on earth would that be doing in China?
Sometimes a search for the item on eBay will also find you the original listing that was stolen by these crooks and you will be able to see from the photographs that these have been stolen.
If you do discover this activity please help others as I do by telling them of the fraud, before they part with their money and also pester eBay to get them to remove the fake seller. But, having advised this, it appears that eBay will block attempts by you to contact the buyers to warn them: this has happened to me today so you may well be on your own when you get tricked by these crooks.
If you have been duped or are worried about winning something so cheaply but have not yet paid, it is most important that you report them to eBay's Safety Centre. The last thing you should worry about is whether non-payment will affect your positive score. If the removed crook leaves you a negative, you should badger eBay to remove it - they can.
Although written in 2006, as I write today in May 2008, a new crook has appeared, having stolen others' listings. The seller, again.8882008 first offered a 193C sovereign, a copied listing and is offering 3 Sony Playstation 3 consoles and a further gold coin and has produced a rating of 21 through faked feedback. In this case, feedback was left by the so-called buyers on the day that they won their item. Ridiculous, but he actually has someone bidding for one of his fake items, a gold coin.
There are real and honest Chinese sellers - usually in Hong Kong - and their high rating and sensible procedures should provide some assurances to the buyer.
Summary and Conclusions
- Look at the seller's payment procedures.
- Read the seller's feedback and ask yourself whether it makes sense in terms of date and content.
- If you are buying a high value item, ask yourself how anyone could possibly afford to sell it so cheaply.
- Look at what they have bought and sold - can they possibly have the items they are offering for sale?
- Ignore all one-day listings.
- Ignore all Chinese sellers with little or no track record or who usually sell cheap rubbish..
- Ignore offers with unnecessary and cheap Buy It Now options.
- Do a search for the item on eBay - they are often still available for sale from the real seller and you will see the real original listing.
- Contact previous buyers to check out the seller.
- Ask yourself how you could possibly buy an item such as a GPS with a UK specification from China!
- Help other eBayers by reporting the fraud to eBay and by emailing the unwary bidders
Finally, you can get bargains on eBay but ask yourself whether the bargain makes any sense to you before you part with your money.