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News Article

How to avoid getting scammed on eBay

Published 25 March 2016 by

At certain times of the year, you may find that your finances are more strained than usual. This may be around Christmas time or when you’ve just made a large purchase like a holiday or a car. But what would you do if someone offered you a way of making an extra bit of money during this time? Would you accept it?

Here, we take you through one woman’s experience of accepting an offer to sell goods on eBay for someone else.

Cautionary tale

When speaking to the Daily Mirror, one woman detailed how she was contacted over Facebook from someone asking whether she’d be interested in selling electrical items on eBay. The man explained that he didn’t have time to list the items himself and wanted someone else to do this for him. She would receive a commission on the items sold.

To make his scam look legitimate, he went about carrying out a number of checks on her, checking her credibility as a seller and her eBay account. When this was done, she was told that she’d be selling three Apple iMacs and would receive £100 commission for each item that she sold.

As it was in the lead up to Christmas, she did this immediately and the items were sold quickly. The seller then asked her to list some further items for him. The money that she would receive for the goods would be transferred first into her personal account from PayPal and then onto the seller (excluding her commission).

After the goods were sold and the money was received, the seller went quiet and stopped responding. Further messages (customers were asking for the tracking numbers for the parcels) were met with either an excuse or no response and in the end he deleted his Facebook account.

For the unfortunate victim involved, this scam had grave implications. PayPal refunded the customers who had bought the computers and asked the woman for the money to cover this. Her bank was unable to help as she had transferred the money into her personal account before sending it. After eBay cancelled the seller fees as a gesture of goodwill, the sum owed amounted to just over £3,000.

Protect yourself

This type of scam is not something that you should take lightly. You may believe that you wouldn’t fall for something like this, but you’d be surprised at how manipulative the social engineering techniques used by fraudsters can be – especially when you’ve fallen on hard times and could be more vulnerable.

So that you know what to avoid when encountering a scam like this, take note of the following:

• Be wary of any unsolicited messages, posts, phone calls or emails from people offering you work unexpectedly. Any legitimate organisations won’t contact you in this way.

• Make sure that you’ve activated the privacy setting on your social media accounts. Having these settings in place could lower the risk of encountering a scam like this, as you’ll only be contacted by people that know you.

• You should never give out your personal information, including your name, bank number or contact details until you’ve verified that the person’s legitimate.

• Remember if an opportunity that you’ve been given sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Currently hunting for a job? Don’t fall for a recruitment scam.