Although most sellers of eggs are genuine, there has been an increasing tendency for people to try to make a "quick buck" by buying eggs in local auctions and then selling them on Ebay. To do this they tend to use photos taken from all around the web to illustrate the auctions, as they do not own the parent stock.
These people rarely use a photo of an inferior bird, and we all know how much a good photo adds to the price!
To avoid these scams do make sure you check the following things before you bid:
1) Do a google image search on the breed in question and compare any pictures you may find there with the pictures the seller is using. (remember that some sellers do have their own web site so do check the site out and see if the information given there appears to match with the Ebay seller. i.e are they even in the same country!) It is also worth doing a quick search of the US Ebay site for these breeds as some scammers have copied pictures from there as well.
2) Do a google search on the sellers ebay name, as if they are being discussed in web forums it may show up with more information about the seller.
3) Beware of cropped photos, if the photo seems to be chopped off then they may be trying to remove a web site logo.
4) If you are at all unsure, email the seller and ask for a clearer photo. (check this new photo against a google image search as well.)
5) Ask the seller if the birds shown in the photo are their own property – beware of weasel-word answers such as "I am not sure exactly which bird that was they are all so alike" etc. etc You want a definite yes or no. A good seller will not worry about going out and taking a fresh clearer picture.
6) Be somewhat wary of any photo that has a USA date stamp on it if the seller is in the UK. But this may be that the seller has just set the date stamp wrongly, but some scammers even try to paste on an artificial date stamp!
7) If a seller is keeping the bids on a hatching egg auction private – ask yourself why? – It's not as if hatching eggs are embarrassing things to buy, and it may indicate that the sellers don’t want people contacting potential buyers and warning them where the photos have really come from. It also stops anyone else except Ebay staff looking to see if the sellers are doing "shill bidding"
8) After the eggs arrive don’t expect miracles, the post can joggle eggs badly and this can easily affect the hatch rate.
9) Candle the eggs when they arrive. It is not unknown for unscrupulous sellers to sell their old infertile or partly incubated eggs. Check the size of the airsack as this will show you how fresh the eggs are.
10) If your eggs arrive intact then leave feedback saying this fact only, don’t go saying things like "Fantastic Seller A++" until you know what arrives out of the eggs!
11) Always leave follow up feedback, this can only help both buyers and sellers as if good it will increase the price they will get for their eggs.
12) When the chicks hatch, do another google image search and compare the chicks you have to known ones of that breed. Inspect the chicks - if they are a 4 toed breed check they haven’t hatched into x-breds with 5 toes. (a common trait in x-bred silkies for instance)
13) If a seller is offering to ship eggs to another country ask them about the correct DEFRA paperwork, as without this customs will quite rightly destroy the shipment.
14) If you get at all suspicious about the answers you get from a seller or something doesn't seem "right" then go with your instincts - they will usually prove right in the end.
15) Finally if you do find the seller has used a photo from another web site, contact the website owner and ask them if the seller had permission to use it, and if not ask them to report the matter to Ebay.
Well I really hope this helps you avoid getting taken for a ride and in turn by you leaving correct followup feedback you will be helping others. You will also be helping to keep ebay a safer place.