back to article eBay denies claims it's failing to thwart 'systematic fraud'

A campaigner has gone public with his concerns over an alleged scam on eBay. The person claimed a group of fraudsters have found a way around PayPal/eBay's anti-fraud system, in a complex multi-stage scam. eBay says it has the problem in hand, a contention strongly disputed by the campaigner, who said he has tracked and …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A scam on Ebay, who'd a thunk it ?

    1. tmTM

      It's only news because it's actually costing eBay money and not the poor users.

    2. leexgx

      i see this issue on 1p buyers who are only buying it as they want feedback i reported them and nothing ever happens (i ended up getting my ebay seller account blocked from selling as i was refusing to give feedback so they would leave negative or file a dispute) there address are fake and some poor person was likely getting 100 sim cards a day in crap mail

      i really should take ebay to court or somthing as they blocked my account because i was not complying with scammers demands

  2. TonyJ Silver badge

    How do they get the money out though?

    I mean, ultimately, it is paid into a bank account somewhere, surely?

    So there must be a trail somewhere.

    Or does my lack of criminal mindedness just bling me to it?

    Edit: Ohhhh I get it now...they never withdraw the funds, they just spend them on other eBay items and have them shipped to some address that's not actually associated with them.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Jelder

      They end up with the goods from the second round of ordering. They could then sell them on an unrelated ebay account or just flog them at car boot sales or down the pub. They may even end up in slightly dodgy high street retailers who don't ask where the job lot of cheap tablets comes from.

  3. Your alien overlord - fear me

    If they're buying lots of stamps, surely it's because they're going to post something?

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: buying lots of stamps

      To post the (really delivered) small items in phase one. Stamps are anonymous.

  4. EveryTime

    Allowing 'gaming' of the system has indirect costs as well

    eBay doesn't seem to recognize that these scams, and other problems, have a cumulative negative effect on their legitimate users.

    They take the viewpoint that as long as the losses cost less than the fixes, it's not worth fixing the problem. That often leads to disaster. Scammers are rarely going to limit their activity to a constant level, and profits will lead to copycat scammers. There will be an explosion of scam transactions that they will miss, and the 'acceptable losses' approach will turn to mush. Or the buyers will just get fed up with how many times their transactions turn into a waste of time.

    1. tedleaf

      Re: Allowing 'gaming' of the system has indirect costs as well

      As Amazon UK are finding out,because they refuse to do anything about fraud on Amazon UK,lots of the folk I ask are not re- newing prime and other Amazon subscriptions..

      It's the one advantage users have with Amazon that eBay doesn't,Amazon can be badly hurt by lots of folk not paying regular subscriptions.

      We got mucked about by Amazon uk,they decided to side with the seller even though every communication showed the seller was in the wrong,well,so far it's probably cost Amazon UK about a grand in sales and we have cancelled,prime,kindle and audible subscriptions,enough folk do the same and Amazon will have to start taking notice,repeat sales through regular prime members must be better than iffy one off sales by repeat fraudsters...

      1. paulf

        Re: Allowing 'gaming' of the system has indirect costs as well


        I'm surprised this kind of thing can happen at all. It was only a year or two ago Amazon demanded all marketplace sellers provide full documentary evidence of their existence, including proof of address plus either passport or driving license. (I ought to add </sarcasm> as I'm siding with @tedleaf).

        This isn't the only aspect of fraud on Amazon. When I've left a (IMO justified) negative review of a marketplace seller I'm often contacted and offered a bribe inducement to remove the review, e.g. a partial refund or discount on future purchase*. I always refuse but it's a bit intimidating when the phone number you've provided for billing/delivery purposes only is used to call you in the evening by some wide-boy seller who doesn't like your negative review. I wonder how many people are tempted by the bribe bribe and delete the negative review, thus fundamentally undermining the whole feedback system.

        I did try to contact Amazon UK about this and just got a response that my email address wasn't associated with a marketplace account (see icon). I figured if they didn't care enough about the problem to actually read my email (both attempts) before sending an automated response they were quite happy about the situation and ceased buying from Marketplace sellers (and substantially reduced my purchasing from amazon themselves).

        * In one case (a CD described as "Used - Very Good" when "Used - Average" was being generous) they waxed on the emotional blackmail saying they were a small company and negative reviews hurt them badly. They admitted the problem was a result of using sub-contractors to sort and send out the CDs. Since selling second hand CDs was their one business I asked them what it was they actually did themselves. I'll update this comment if I ever get an answer.

    2. DropBear

      Re: Allowing 'gaming' of the system has indirect costs as well

      Every corporation these days cares only about total revenue - if either direct losses (like this one) or lost sales stay at the "background noise" level they just don't care; it doesn't even matter whether they could do something about it or not. Some of their customers may well get their souls stolen for all they care - as long as that doesn't cause a major financial loss, that's perfectly fine by them. The key being that no matter how disgruntled a (relatively) small number of customers get, no matter how radically they stop subscribing and convince their friends to do so, IT. WILL. NEVER. MATTER. Numbers: they eat the individual customer alive.

      The corps know full well the "but if everybody..." disaster-scenarios never ultimately materialize, regardless of how many people get pissed how badly - any number, small or large gets drowned out by the indifferent masses who carry on as usual. The only way any scam could get their attention is either by major financial losses or by truly endemic-scale public impact - neither being the case here, with a predictable outcome: nothing happens.

      Putting it differently, in this universe there never was any other possible outcome for this situation. "Megacorp cracks down hard on issue affecting only some of its customers" is a headline from some parallel reality, not this one...

  5. djstardust

    It seems

    That if you host an elaborate web based scam you can "hide" and get off scot free.

    Steal a tin of peas from the local grocer and you get the book thrown at you.

    Neither eBay or Paypal are the remotest bit helpful to the genuine user putting blocks and payment holds in place everywhere. Even reporting dodgy listings gets you nowhere,

    Horrible company.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It seems

      So if someone steals a tin of peas from your local grocer then you expect the book to be thrown at the grocer rather than they accept the loss and take the level of precautions that they think is sufficient for them?

  6. joshimitsu

    Wouldn't the paypal account be linked to a real bank account? Or is step one to create a bank account using a stolen identitfy?

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: paypal account link

      That's why they spend the paypal income and don't withdraw it. You do need a debit or credit card I think, but not a bank account except to withdraw money?

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: paypal account link

        "but not a bank account "

        surely thats a basic prerequisite they could ask for? Anyone who'se not got one / cant get one surely isnt kosha?

  7. cosymart

    It's Safe in the Garden Come and Play

    This is why eBay & Paypal don't come down hard, they want punters to feel safe. Scammers? here? never! It's wonderful :-(

  8. mark l 2 Silver badge

    It doesn't surprise me that ebay aren't doing much about it. I reported a seller flogging fake SD cards which claimed were 32GB yet when i ran a read/write test only successfully wrote to 8GB. This seller had sold over 300 of them. I reported the finding to ebay customer services nearly 2 months ago and yet the seller is still selling them. I am guessing because this is a 'powerseller' with over 100000 feedback they would rather have their fees coming in than do anything about it

    1. Cynic_999 Silver badge


      ... fake SD cards which claimed were 32GB yet when i ran a read/write test only successfully wrote to 8GB.


      A very common scam with USB sticks and SD cards that is not often discovered. The majority of people either never fill the device to more than 25% capacity, or by the time they have taken 32GB of photographs and discover the problem they do not recall where the SD card came from.

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Been there, done that, got the t-shirt and the dead USB sticks.

        The first thing I do with storage now is check the capacity. Heck, I've gotten bogus stuff from Best Buy. Not that they care when you return it...

        The was a huge eye opener for me.

        For example, Kingston just rebrands other people's chips. I'd already figured out they were crap and put them on my "avoid" list.

    2. YARR

      The majority of cheap sd cards on ebay are fake, and will result in countless millions of people losing their irreplaceable holiday photos / school work / college dissertations etc. just so that someone can make a quick buck. Not to mention the number of shoddy "made for ebay" products which fail the second time you use them.

      Ebay's feedback system is the cause, as most people leave "Excellent A+++, recommended seller. Will buy again" the moment an item arrives or appears to work when they first try it. Instead they should adopt a feedback system when you can mark an item as received, but can flag an item as poor quality any time later. This would allow dodgy products and/or disreputable sellers to be identified and avoided.

      Savvy buyers ought to at least have a way to warn other buyers of poor quality, even if the majority / consensus wish to continue buying cheap fake / inferior goods.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: poor quality any time later

        The eBay "Feedback" button expires too quickly, often before stuff actually gets here, I think customs delay non-EU stuff, esp. HK & China.

    3. Dave Bell

      I am not sure I would buy a USB stick on eBay.

      As it happens, I have had consistently good experiences with a particular High Street chain, and there is a British on-line store which I have found reliable, while the best powerbanks I have come from another High Street chain. All of these do some eBay trading, things such as end-of-line stock.

      They's not selling the well-known brands but I know the stuff will work. And they're cheaper than similar items from supermarkets.

      I am not going to name anyone here, but the shops worth checking have the same feel as the Woolworths of my distant youth.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The flash memory scam isn't just related to it stopping filling up when 8GB is reached instead of 32GB. The first (and only*) time I was hit by it, many years ago was that after xGB is written it quietly starts reusing blocks that have already been written. So you now think you have written x+1GB. When you go to review your pictures or upload them you suddenly realise all the older pictures are corrupt and can't be read - and you've lost them for good.

      Quite clever the way they reprogram the controller chips on the cards, but a right pain.

      *After that incident I discovered h2testw and test all cards now.

    5. Jeffrey Nonken

      I had something similar happen through Newegg Marketplace, bought a pair of 64GB microSDXC cards and got fakes. My first clue was that they were marked SDHC...

      Ran tests (h2testw and FakeFlashTest) and of course they failed. Looked up the part number on the back and discovered that the part in question is used for fake SD cards a LOT. (

      After some back-and-forthing (for some reason their e-mail stripped out ALL LINKS as well as inline non-text content making it nearly impossible to send evidence; they ignored it when I said "look up my tumbler post...") I included a text copy-and-paste of the test results. They refunded my money. I wrote a review that explained everything, carefully written in a neutral tone but laid it all out. (Included the fact that they didn't refund the sales tax, though Newegg refunded that later... it was under $2, I wasn't planning to pursue it.) When I checked the review a couple days later to see if the vendor had posted a reply, I found... nothing. It had quietly disappeared. Since I had meticulously kept a neutral tone, avoided accusations and abuse but merely laid out the sequence of events and the evidence I'd collected, I can only assume it had been swept under the rug.

      I haven't bought a single item from Newegg since then. If their policy is to silence negative reviews, then I can't trust them.

      I've avoided cheap SD cards since then; found an honest vendor on eBay who sells genuine SanDisk media, and have been buying from him ever since. (dz-tech, in case anybody wants to know. No relationship except as a satisfied customer. US-based.)

  9. JCDenton

    No surprise. eBay is full of "legit" scams, too.

    By legit, I mean vendors who intentionally mistag or mislabel genuine parts in order to get a sale. Bought a part I thought was compatible, it was not. The vendor hid behind eBay and refused to give me a full refund. They even made me pay to ship back their mistake. Then they re-listed the item for a higher price. They also tried to communicate with me over the phone instead of eBay's messaging feature. I contacted eBay and got my full refund, not including all of the shipping. The vendor in question had a nearly flawless rating, like most vendors.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Another similar scam.

      If a seller mis-describes an item and posts it out to you, when you open it and discover it isn't "new" or whatever the false description is you start a case.

      The seller agrees for you to send it back and refund you. What you may not realise is you have a countdown now started from the day you opened the case. All it takes is the seller to not collect the parcel from the delivery office for a while and a delay sending the refund to you due to being away on holiday or on business etc. Before you know it you have missed the 30 day deadline and despite you sending the goods back, despite e-bay/paypal having the tracking details and knowing that you have not been refunded they close the case and will not re-open it.

      You lose your money and the goods that have been returned, a bit more delay by the seller saying that he sent the money and is trying to sort it out with e-bay and you lose the ability to leave feedback.

      My advice, keep updating the case, flag it to e-bay as soon as initial delays in picking up your returned goods or getting a refund. Give the seller a strict deadline to refund if they make excuses.

      1. kain preacher

        That's changed. It use to be proof that you sent it with in the 30 days.

  10. Craig 2

    Same here with counterfeit goods listings, I've reported loads and never once seen the seller penalized in any meaningful way. They (may) remove the listing but another 100 similar pop up. The only saving grace as a buyer is that Paypal / ebay will generally side with you on refunds.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cost/benefit equation

    No retailer tries to eradicate ALL fraud, because beyond a certain point it costs more to do so than the fraud is costing. eBay probably feels this type of fraud is similar, given the small amounts the fraudsters are getting.

    There's non-economic reputational damage from the people who don't get the goods they were sold and have to hassle with reporting it, but since eBay is making good that may end up being net zero (i.e. some people are put off by it, but others may have their opinion of eBay go UP because of how they were made whole)

    If you had a convenience store where some high school kids would occasionally swipe a candy bar on the way home from school, costing $20/week, it is probably cheaper to let the kids steal as anything you do that would really prevent it costs more. Hiring part time security is probably the only way to prevent it, unless you set up security cameras over every single aisle. Even then someone has to watch them and take the time to fill out police reports and hope the cops don't laugh at them for reporting the theft of a 75 cent item!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    and not one shit was given by me.

    Harsh, yes but a fair response,

    Ebay operate a cartel with paypal where they have control over your money. If you don't like it then don't use them. However how are you supposed to know this is the case?

    I was an ebay member since 2004, bought lots of stuff sold nothing because the first time I did I had some clown trying to get me to meet them at a pub car park in Burnage to sell a phone. Do I look stupid? (rhetorical questions of course because I look like Justin off CBeebies)

    I then sell a big ticket item (£280) and ebay/papypal hold my funds even when the buyer collects/emails to confirm it's collected/leaves positive feedback.

    So in my opinion ebay can f*ck off.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ebay U.S. seems to allow crims to operate freely

    I have reported sellers who intentional violate U.S. Ebay regs and law by defrauding buyers. Ebay confirmed this reality via the Ebay messages to me from the perps. No action was taken because the perps sell on Ebay all the time and as such Ebay derives small compensation via transaction fees. The perps conduct sales outside Ebay using PayPal so that Ebay gets cheated out of commissions for large purchases if the perps decide to ship damage merchandise as good. The perps do not answer their phones or accept voice mail after they have defrauded buyers. This has been going on for years and Ebay does nothing to stop this abuse of it's members/buyers.

    Calling Ebay or sending them messages (which is excruciatingly frustrating via their circuitous "contact" website maze... is a complete waste of time. The phone staff don't have a clue in the world and refuse (as directed), to allow anyone to speak to a supervisor or management. The fact is Ebay knows that customers are routinely defrauded by unscrupulous sellers and Ebay allows this to continue despite the lip service they may give to consumer fraud. As long as the money keeps rolling into Ebay, the crims are allowed to continue defrauding buyers - and I can and have prove this fact!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cartel of shite

    Avoid eBay and PayPal

    1. Trilkhai

      Re: Cartel of shite

      That would be a lot easier to do if Amazon would adopt eBay's harsh stance on sellers who actively send counterfeit or broken items to buyers.

    2. DropBear

      Re: Cartel of shite

      "Avoid eBay and PayPal"

      Right, and if you have any problems whatsoever with living on this planet, just avoid it and move to a different one - after all, there are plenty of other planets even in our own Solar system alone...! Nobody needs to live on this one after all...!

  15. smithsmooth11

    And what about the fraudsters that buy ebay accounts with big feedbacks and they go on to sell Bogus goods

  16. tiggity Silver badge

    Gave up on ebay years ago

    It was OK for a while back in the day (or maybe I was just lucky) but then seemed to get really full of fraud & scams on electrical / tech gear.

    I have now not used it in years.

    I might be theoretically losing out by spending more cash to buy stuff in bricks & mortar stores, but the upside is that there is a far higher chance of what I buy actually being legit & if any problems arise no problem to go back to teh store.

    (Same applies to Amazon, its scam central these days, plus a very suspicious amount of items have delivery issues taht appear to be distribution side thefts (had hassles with niche, low value non UK books that would not be worth a scammers time from legit booksellers))

  17. Drefsab_UK

    I tried reporting this.

    I tried to report this exact type of scam.

    Basically the scammer was listing and selling large amounts of items, prices far to good to be true, i7-7700k CPU's for £20, ps4's for £16 etc, the accounts listing them all had small amounts of positive feedback, and each account had a name in the title like ebaya, ebayb etc through to ebayz. These accounts were all listed as being in china and has the same items on them. Clearly a scam.

    I tried to report the accounts no go, I can only report the individual listsings and cant detailed comments in. I tried to list the issue on their community forums, they deleted my posts because I included links to the suspicious accounts.

    I tried calling they and was told they automatically pick these things up and wouldnt take the details. I then gave up, the scammers ran their accounts for a while as the listings stayed up. many innocent people got caught out and ebay did nothing.

  18. MT Field

    Not to mention

    Those who sell you things and then immediately pass (or sell) your PayPal-linked email address on to the spam-generating community. Try reporting one of these and enjoy reading the stock response you get.

    eBay is a dirty little business.

    1. paulf

      Re: Not to mention

      I once bought an eBook (as a PDF) from a small publisher of same. Payment was by Paypal (no eBay involvement). They then started spamming me with all sorts of other books they thought I would just love to buy. When I asked them to stop they claimed it "wasn't spam because the books were a good match". As excuses go that's a cracker! Geez!

  19. kain preacher

    Once Ebay bought pay pal and banned other forms of payment it went down hill. Oh and pay pal gift cards are pain in the ass to use.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No income tax

    No VAT

    No money back

    No guarantee...

    We'll be mewyunairs rodders!

  21. Big K

    For months now I have been feeding eBay details of fraudulent listings of laptops by reporting them as and when I see them ( I am sure it happens on all sorts of items but I am mainly watching laptops). They are listed as new or refurbished laptops at tempting prices such as £29.99 on either newly created eBay accounts such as slibbeebwdudud (just random letters) or often existing accounts which the scammer has somehow hacked into. I sometimes send a message to the the hacked seller advising them that they have been hacked ( if their eBay A/C has been hacked then maybe their email A/C has also of course) and get the odd reply from the user thanking me or even from eBay thanking me. However, eBay clearly are unable or can't be bothered to stop these listings as they go on day after day. Whether the scammer ever gets any money from the duped buyer I don't know but I assume they must or why would they keep listing these items day after day. The buyer I assume gets their payment refunded under the eBay protection policy but this will take some time and is just a pain.

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