Fake listings may appear on eBay and other trading sites. They’re either for non-existent goods that never arrive, or fakes that aren’t worth the bargain price.
Scammers can even hack an account with decent feedback and take it over. They sell goods quickly, then move on to another account. The goods never arrive, but the scammers still rake in their money.
Some dealers sell second rate knock-offs. Many are based overseas, although they often purport to have a UK connection, and you reach the sites through ads or social networking links.
How to spot a fake listing scam
Some fake listings dealers operate directly through eBay, while others have their own seller shops, such as the one below:
- If prices are significantly below the market value, remember the old adage that if looks too good to be true, it probably is.
- Where’s the product coming from? Apple doesn’t allow direct iPhone sales from China into the UK, for example.
- Are there contact details, such as a UK phone number? If not, think carefully. The prices shown in the example here are in US dollars. Reputable companies will offer sterling sales in the UK.
- Look out for unusual payment options. Scam sellers often insist on a money transfer using Western Union or similar, outside eBay’s own PayPal payments system. This means the funds aren’t trackable or refundable – which is a sure sign of a scam.
- Criminal traders often prefer to work outside the eBay system, exchanging emails directly or from a fake eBay email address. According to eBay, only contacts made through the internal ‘My Messages’ system are genuine, so check that an email that arrives in your inbox is also in your eBay messages folder.
- If you’re in doubt, message the seller asking for more pictures of the item, with instructions regarding what you want to see. Often scammers use other people’s photos and a specially requested photo shows they at least have the goods to sell.
- Google the seller’s username, as others may have posted warnings if they’ve been scammed.
- Above all, if you're in any doubt, do not part with your money.