eBay fraud warning

Bonsai Nut

Nuttier than your average Nut
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Charlotte area, North Carolina
Didn't know where to put this, so I am placing it in the "vendor experiences" section for general information since many people buy bonsai and accessories on eBay.

eBay has recently instituted a program called "2nd chance" offers, so that if a seller ends up with an auction-winner that does not pay, he can offer the item to the next highest bidder as a "2nd chance". However there is a huge issue with the way that eBay calculates the "2nd chance" price, so that unscrupulous sellers can take advantage of the program to sell their items for higher final prices than they would otherwise receive. Consider the following example:

Buyer 1 bid: $300
Buyer 2 bid: $350
Buyer 3 bid: $400

In this example, Buyer 3 would be the auction winner for $355 (Buyer 2 bid plus $5). However, assuming Buyer 3 never placed their bid, Buyer 2 WOULD HAVE won the auction for $305. (Buyer 1 plus $5). Additionally, the Seller would have never been notified that Buyer 2 had actually bid as much as $350 - they would have just gotten the notice that Buyer 2 won the auction for $305.

So what I am seeing is unscrupulous sellers who set up a dummy account and then place a high fraudulent bid on the last day of the auction. They then pretend that the auction winner is a deadbeat, and send you a 2nd chance offer at YOUR MAXIMUM BID PRICE (in the case of the example above, the 2nd chance offer that eBay sends by default is $350). The difference in my example is $45 between what you would have paid for the item in a standard eBay auction versus what the seller would send to you as a 2nd chance offer.

Finally, there is no recourse to the bidders. You can't report the seller because you can't prove anything, nor can you leave negative feedback for them. Additionally, because eBay will no longer share with you contact information for other bidders on the same auction, you can no longer send warnings notices to other bidders to not get taken in by high 2nd chance offers.

Warning signs that someone is trying to use this program to your buying disadvantage:
(1) When the fraudulent bidder has an account that was recently created, and has no feedback.
(2) When the fraudulent bidder account has a strange home location listed, like a foreign country. Sellers use this as a quick explanation for why they cannot complete the auction - "Hey the guy lives in Spain and he wanted me to ship him xxx"). FYI eBay does not confirm home address for new buyer accounts.
(3) When the seller does not leave negative feedback for the fictitious bidder (since feedback can be tracked, and they plan to use the same account over and over, so they can't be seen leaving multiple negative feedbacks for the same account).

I hope this all makes sense. I experienced this today for the 2nd time (NOT having to do with bonsai purchases) so this practice is starting to catch on on eBay. I assume once the practice becomes universal eBay will change their policy, but until then let the buyer beware!!


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Thank You for the warning bnut!


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El Paso , TX
Hay Bnut , did you notify e-bay of your suspisions ? They have a fraud unit that usually responds rather fast , or at least they did. I report e-mails that mention updating my e-bay account and they always tell me if it's legit or not.

frou frou

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Another sign is the bidder's identities are kept private. This way, you can't suspect some dummy account is being used on all the same seller's account all the time.
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