How to spot a scammer

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How to spot a scammer.

Make sure you first read ebay's guides on avoiding spoofs and phishes and buying protection.

Even after reading the ebay guides you may still find auctions that look Ok at first glance.

However there are scammers that are getting more and more organized in operating ebay accounts to defraud innocent buyers. Auctions with 100% feedback and glowing responses. These are easily faked. The scammers will reply to questions and seem quite ordinary - until caught out. The scammers operate mechanisms to protect their feedback, reduce the impact of negative feedback and even keep eBay from closing their accounts.

This guide is written in a rush to alert you to some danger signs not usually mentioned in ebay guides.

Really look at that feedback

For snapshots of a poorly setup scam (an experienced ebayer would not fall for this but others have) see snapshots in - search in for photos tagged as ebayscammer. Or search fotki members for skeptic2's photo album.

Read both the listings and the feedback very carefully for danger signs:
  • Positive feedback bought some months ago with penny ebooks or items with hidden description (marked private);
  • auctions with private ids ;
  • lots of pricy items listed in after only cheap sales.
  • When scammer receives a negative alerting other ebayers to a scam:
  1. scammer makes an irrelevant or feeble response
  2. scammer makes more one penny purchases to gain instant positive feedback in the hope that ebayers will miss the red negative
  • After checking feedback a seller has received, also look at the feedback left for others:
  1. has seller replied in a way that ignores any scam claim?
  2. has seller started buying feedback using penny purchases?

If in doubt

Always ask the eBay community forum boards BEFORE PAYING - do not disclose too much information, for example just give part of the title or ask what to look for in the detailed feedback, or just ask how to look at *all* the feedback.

Stay safe.

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