Ebay is one of the biggest shopping websites in the world, featuring anything from motor vehicles and auto-parts to fashion accessories. Founded in 1995 by Pierre Omidyar, it brings together buyers and sellers from over 30 countries. That said, as with any global e-commerce system, scammers present an ever-present risk for both buyers and sellers.
However, Ebay has worked to ensure that buyers are protected against scams through its Money Back Guarantee program. It guarantees refunds to buyers who have received items that are not as described on the listing or have not received the items at all.
However, sellers have no equivalent form of protection, and it seems scammers are exploiting this, leading to significant losses on the part of Ebay traders. One of the sellers on the platform, who fell victim to this in November last year, is Clive Rose. He, as reported by the Guardian suffered a loss of about $1,825 on the platform after selling two handmade Japanese swords to an Ebay buyer.
After receipt of the items, the buyer then demanded that Clive reduce the cost of the more expensive of the two swords, but Rose declined, and instead requested that the items be shipped back to him to enable him to issue a refund. The following is what transpired after the package arrived, according to Rose.
“We couldn’t open it until we had signed for it,” says Rose. “On the label it said two items were inside. When we had signed and opened it up we found the cheaper £540 sword badly damaged because of poor packaging, and a brick. The other £1,400 sword, for which he had been trying to barter, was not there.”
The buyer claimed that since Clive Rose had already signed for the package, he had forfeited his rights. Ebay apparently also backed the buyer’s claim, leaving Rose out of pocket. This was regardless of the fact that Clive had provided sufficient evidence to back the allegation, which included photographs, and the conversation.
Rose, who had a 100 percent satisfaction rating from previous buyers had his Ebay account suspended as a result. With his PayPal account indicating an overdraft, he eventually had debt collectors threatening to take action against him.
His fortunes changed following an investigation by the Observer, which checked the buyer’s account history, and flagged it for suspicious activity. Ebay responded with a message stating that the buyer’s account had been suspended, and a refund issued to the seller.
That said, some sellers on Ebay have also been accused of scamming buyers using numerous techniques. One of the most common is falsely claiming items have been shipped, and then making sure to calm the buyer down, long enough for the Ebay Money Back Guarantee claim window to pass.
According to a Fox News report, such cases usually feature items priced way below the market average, and usually originate from countries such as China. The enticing price acts as bait for buyers looking for great deals, which in many cases are too good to be true.
Buyers claiming refunds are given numerous excuses that make them hesitant about contacting Ebay, until eventually, they cannot make a claim. Ebay is said to have put in place an intuitive system that flags suspicious listing patterns, but it’s not perfect, according to their statement.
Last year, the Telegraph published a story on how a vigilante group made up of online fraud victims, that is based in the United Kingdom, was helping crack down on scammers on Ebay.
The group, which is led by a guy named Buster Jack, and his close associates, apparently prowl online e-commerce sites such as Ebay looking for fraudsters. Members pose as customers looking to buy suspicious listings and then obtain account details of the fraudsters. They forward this information to the authorities and concerned institutions.
[Featured Image by Xijian iStock]