This is an Ebay scam run completely by Ebay themselves.
Let me start off by saying that I’ve used eBay and PayPal for years (about 10 at last count) and was satisfied with both services until about two years ago. Let me tell you why I have become disgusted and think eBay and PayPal have turned into nothing more than a den of thieves.
Instead of regale you with hearsay and colorful antidotes I will impart the details of my last three selling experiences.
The first sale was a PowerMac G5 computer that was about two years old. Now while I didn't lose any money, (I’ll talk about the wonders of charge-backs later) I should have taken it as a clue as to what eBay had become.
It all started when I began to get a deluge of people wanting to know if I could end the auction early, sell it to them at nearly double the asking price and ship it to their poor family still in Nigeria. Why a poor family in Nigeria needs a $6, 000 PowerMac is beyond me.
I finally did sell the item to a person in Florida and so far everything has worked out. The reason I say so far is that charge-backs are now a staggering problem on eBay.
A charge-back occurs after a buyer has paid and you have shipped the item to them. The buyer informs either PayPal or their credit card company that the item was defective, not as advertised etc. At this point PayPal removes the funds from your account pending an investigation. This can happen up to a year after the payment has been made.
While I understand this is necessary to protect the buyer I think more protection is needed for the seller (PayPal seller protection is a joke and I wont waste your time retyping their abhorrent terms of service here). I strongly feel that the buyer should have to return the item to the seller before a refund is issued.
Second item up for bids was an original XBox that I stopped using. While I still had the Nigeria problem the real fun with this auction started when the XBox went for twice what it should have.
Now you might be wondering why I would care that the item sold for 2x what I wanted. Normally I wouldn’t mind and would disregard it as bidding zealously, but in this case the higher bidder was, drum-role please... A man from Nigeria with zero feed back! I dislike how eBay lets bidders bid with no confirmed address or on items for US sale only when they do not have a valid US address.
The XBox was an interesting auction not just because it was won by a person supposedly in Nigeria, but that it was eventually won (through the second chance option) by a individual that contacted me before the auction had ended letting me know the current winning bidder was a fraud. Now while this in and of itself doesn't seem like suspicious behavior the sequence of events that follow sure did.
The high bidder started to haggle over the final price. He had a high bid of $170 but said he was just “feeling out the fraud from Nigeria” and wanted to know If I’d sell the item for $150 shipped. I informed him that I had another bidder willing to pay $165 shipped and would let him have it for that. In case your wondering he should have paid $190 shipped.
After the XBox auction I started doing some research and it seems that this is a common eBay scam. The idea behind the scam is to use a fictitious account to run an auction up a ridiculously high price thus deterring anyone else from bidding on the item. After the auction the scam is to either sit and wait for a second chance offer or to approach the seller with an offer to buy. While not a total bust for the seller it robs the seller of fair auction and the price they should have gotten.
Not for a lack of trying the last item I never did sell on eBay. The item was a two month old MacBook Pro 17” laptop. I placed it on auction with a buy it now price of $1, 999. Of course no one used buy it now option and the laptop went through what is now the normal course (fake bids, side selling, etc...) until the auction stood at $2, 975, which is more than the unit cost new from Apple. The same scam as the XBox seemed to be at play.
The buyer sent funds to me before I could withdraw the auction and requested shipment to an unconfirmed address. Now this really gets the seller into a bad situation. You can’t deny the payment you have to accept it and then refund it and then get eBay to waive their fees. In the end, if you are successful you will just end up losing about 2 weeks of your time.
Obviously not every buyer/seller on eBay is a scam artist. I’m absolutely certain that tens of thousands if not millions of auctions a year go off with out a hitch, but for me the headaches, risks and time just aren’t worth it. As a result I’m done messing around with eBay and PayPal. I’ve closed my accounts and will stick to services like Craig’s List and the classified section of the local newspaper.