Dangerous Chinese "Sellers"
One eBayer has already written a note about these but last night there was a spate of these crooks on eBay, mainly selling coins, totalling more than 100 items.
Experienced buyers often recognise these crooks but not always and the crooks are becoming more devious; so I have decided to write this guide to help you recognise these crooks and avoid financial loss.
Their current strategy is to create about 10 fake accounts, sell to these accounts and then create the illusion of a positive rating of 10. 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. However, they are now using 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.
You should next look closely at what they have supposedly sold and then ask yourself whether it makes any sense that they are now selling a plethora of rare coins.
These listings are usually 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.
Many of these listings also offer a ludicrously cheap Buy It Now option - again, you have to ask yourself "would a real seller need to do this?"
If bidding has got under way - often these crooks are so incompetent that the listing is laughable and is ignored by everyone - look at who is bidding and look at their track record from their feedback. Even knowledgeable people can get caught but generally, you will notice that the regular bidders are not bidding for these offers.
Sometimes these crooks manage to match their incompetence with their enthusiasm and you will see them offering the same rare item in several different listings!
Often 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 are suspicious, you can always try to contact one of their so-called previous buyers and another technique is to ask for a new picture of the item. A real seller will invariably oblige.
As of today, 11 July 2006, the crooks are back and this time, they are using a zero rating instead of constructing 10 or so fake positives. My opinion now is that you should not buy coins from ANYONE in China who is not yet established and is showing a low or zero rating - there is almost certainly nothing there for you.
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.
When I wrote this, I was pleased to see this activity appear to die down but in April 2008, I have received emails from other eBayers telling me that it is still going on and that, as usual, eBay is doing nothing about it, sales are going through to completion and buyers are losing money. I do now feel that the only way you can protect yourself is by ignoring all Chinese sellers of assorted junk jewellery, artifacts and coins irrespective of their ratings.
Summary and Conclusions
- Look at the seller's payment procedures
- Look at the seller's feedback and ask yourself whether it makes sense.
- Look at what they have bought and sold - can they possibly have the items they are offering for sale? If they have more than one of a rare item, they are almost certainly crooked
- Ignore one-day listings
- Ignore offers with unnecessary and cheap Buy It Now options
- Look at the background of the bidders. As a general rule the experienced ones can spot these frauds
- Do a search for the item on eBay - they are often still available for sale from the real seller
- Contact previous buyers to check out the seller
- Ask the seller for new pictures of the item or items for sale
- Simply, do not buy from any Chinese sellers, with the possible exception of a couple of photographic and hi-fi dealers
- Help other eBayers by reporting the fraud to eBay and by emailing the unwary bidders because eBay will ignore you
Finally, you can get bargains on eBay but ask yourself whether the bargain makes any sense to you before you part with your money.