I was just browsing ebay, mainly through boredom, when I came across several 42″ plasma TV’s all listed for around 150. Straight away you think SCAM SCAM, SCAM. Yet it appears people still bid for them. Why?
It amazes me that people bid for such items. Maybe it’s first time ‘eBayers’ who have heard a story of a mate’s friend’s sister’s uncle that found a bargain TV. I don’t know.
The first rule of eBaying is to always do your homework before bidding on anything. Always check the sellers? feedback rating. Let’s take an example from one of our plasma TV sellers.
So far, so good. Our seller has a 100% positive feedback score. This means every person dealing with our seller has been happy. We can also see the seller has been registered since 16th of Jan 2006. This is an effective, quick check to carry out as most scammers have been only registered for a matter of weeks.
The next step is to check out these 10 positive ratings to see what people thought of the seller and to have a nosey at what they’ve sold or bought in the past. (You can often find the most unusual items by doing this!!)
A quick glance at the comments and it appears this person is an eBay god, an A+++++++++ seller. Everything sold has been shipped quickly, described accurately and the communication has been excellent. It’s nice to also note they are "Honest". Brilliant! Let’s get a bid in quickly!
A closer look reveals that in fact, all these reviews were left on the same day, within 30 minutes of each other. That sets alarm bells ringing in my head. 10 completely separate people leaving 10 reviews with in that short time scale. You then begin to wonder if these are, in fact, real reviews or has this user made up 10 accounts and left feedback for themselves. Maybe this person is not really the A+++++++++ seller we first thought.
A further check can be made on the actual auctions the seller has supposedly sold to our buyers.
This user has purchased "Temptation" from our seller for RMB 16 (around £1.10). A bargain at twice the price if you ask me. A quick check on the other buyers reveals that they have all bought "temptation".
If we glance back at the feedback listing, we also note that all the buyers have a rating of 0. Again, not impossible, but it’s very unusual to see. Most users on eBay also have fairly readable names such as "matty44312" or "dan-the-man554". The fake buyer names are, more often than not, randomly typed names. For example: "ttgfg" "dfhdfg". You may also find the buyers are "no longer registered".
The above example shows all feedback having been left within 20 minutes. This also shows the "fake buyers" as having feedback ratings of 10 and 11. This may be more convincing than all of them having 0 feedback but it’s all a little too similar. The names are not legible and all the comments appear to be in a similar format. Two are even identical!
By this stage, we’ve started to wonder if our seller has been as honest as their feedback proclaims. It appears they have created several fake accounts, purchased a barrow-load of "Temptation" and left wonderful feedback.
If we look at the actual items which are listed for sale, we can see they are new items. The little sun icon () indicates that the item has been listed within the last 24 hours. Whilst there is not a problem with this, in fact many items are listed this way you’d expect something as expensive as a 42" plasma TV to be listed with a longer time to run. These scammers are looking for a fast transaction.
The most obvious factor in this scam is the price. Can you honestly imagine a shop selling a genuine plasma television for this knock down price?
When purchasing from eBay, be sure to do your homework. Be sure to check the following
- Where is the seller located? If purchasing electrical products from outside the UK can you be certain they are genuine. It’s easier to return a faulty item to your local shop than to post it back to China.
- Does the seller have genuine feedback? Check the buyers or sellers who have left feedback. Have a look at what they’ve been purchasing.
- Check the feedback times if they’ve all been left on the same day within a small time window, chances are they’re fake.
- Look at the photos on the listing. Has the seller taken a photo of the item in their own home/shop or is it a stock photo of the item?
- Check when the seller registered with eBay. Be wary of new sellers not in the UK selling cut price items.
- If you’re not sure, contact the seller. Use the contact link within the auction and remember to always use your eBay messaging centre, as any correspondence is logged.
Remember, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is!