/ Shopping

Scam watch: how £2,000 was lost to an eBay scammer

If you’re a frequent online shopper, it’s worth knowing about this scam that tricks you to¬†conduct eBay transactions outside its website, only for the product to never arrive…

Robert told us: I was looking to bid on eBay for a John Deere compact tractor, until it was removed from sale. I emailed the seller, who said that we could still buy it for £2,000 and went to great lengths to assure us everything was in order, and to protect both parties would only sell through eBay.

We received a genuine-looking eBay invoice, explaining¬†the full terms and conditions and how we were protected¬†under eBay policy. It instructed us to transfer the sale¬†amount of ¬£2,000 to an eBay ‚Äėholding account‚Äô, and¬†stated that the money would only be released once¬†we had confirmed we were happy with the item.

It was only after I transferred the funds and the item didn’t¬†arrive that I discovered the whole process was a scam and¬†the money was lost. We have reported this scam to eBay¬†and to the police. I feel this was a professional gang of¬†crooks as the scam was so well presented and executed.

What we say on the eBay scam

We say: eBay actively encourages members to report offers to buy or sell outside of its website, because of the potential fraud risk. It runs a money-back guarantee to protect buyers against scams like this, but only on transactions made through its website, so there’s little hope of compensation through this scheme.

However, if you transferred the money using a credit card, you could get your money back through Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. If you used a debit card, you could also be able to reclaim your money using the chargeback scheme.

Have you been a victim of this scam or a similar one? Do you have any tips for spotting it?


I think one of the worst things eBay has done is remove identities of buyers.

I once considered buying something from a seller with low feedback as a seller. When I checked their feedback and previous “bought” and “sold” items, several eBay ids had been set up all bidding and selling to each other known as shill bidding.

Removing identities of buyers and not being able to check out previous sales and purchases of a seller has made it harder to spot scams.

Whilst I agree with the statement that eBay encourages members to report “off site” trading by email, I have to point out that eBay DO NOT offer buyer protection for vehicle sales. One of the main causes of victims being caught out is that they receive an official looking but FAKE email from eBay convincing the buyer they are protected – see http://www.scamaccounts.co.uk for examples.

We see hundreds of fake listings put on eBay, Gumtree & Auto Trader every day and publish them to warn others here http://bit.ly/1LuzHqA

The one single piece of advice is NEVER send money for a vehicle you have not physically been to see, even if the seller tells you the vehicle is abroad, in storage or other excuse, IT IS A SCAM.

These scammers do not take credit or debit card so there is no protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. There is also very little chance you will ever see your money again. We work very closely with the banks fraud departments to get these Mule Accounts closed down, if you receive an “invoice” for a vehicle, assuring you of buyer protection DO NOT SEND FUNDS.

An “ebay holding account”??? What’s all that about then? If you buy through ebay there is the paypal system with just about all the same security measures as using a credit card. If you buy outside ebay, perhaps a deal after the listing has ended then it’s strictly cash on collection or delivery, anything else is fraught with danger. If you want to steer clear of “wrong uns”, especially if the deal is “outside” ebay then have nothing to do with money transfers, holding accounts or anything that involves you parting with the cash before you see the goods.
Within an ebay sale only use paypal and keep the amounts on the lower side because any claim still takes weeks to resolve, and to secure refunds, I know because I’ve been there.
I’m amazed how trusting some buyers still are, perhaps it’s because modern money transfer methods appear so professional and sophisticated, and therefore safe, but it’s not always the case. Be very careful.

Hi Chris;It came to my attention lastnight a scam buying TVs via both Amazon &pricespy both give arrow pointers to a site with low prices they ask buyers pay via bank transfer they ask for international bank code etc;etc.they cliam to have an on-line shop but actually its someone in USA. It looks like scamers have discovered that Brits pay way over the odds for a new TV.Low prices are always tempting I went over&over their rules 15days to deliver a TV. I always use paypal as you say scamers are becoming very crafty and perhaps it’s because modern money transfer methods appear so professional and sophisticated, and therefore safe, but it’s not always the case. Be very careful.

michelle deathe says:
25 February 2015

I have just been scam i was given the sales details only to find out that the ebay account had been hacked into but ebay was a where of this but still gave the details out knowing it was a scam ebay will not help at all. The item bought was ice cream van for my bussness so not only have i lost my money but my livelihood as well

Hi Michelle – I’m sorry to hear about your experience with eBay. It’s tough to answer because both eBay’s money-back guarantee and the Paypal Buyer Protection Scheme don’t cover vehicles.

However, we do have this article dealing with how to get your money back after a scam here:


In your position, I would contact the company you made the payment to and see if they can cancel or dispute it. You can also get in touch with the police.

Also, if the vehicle was paid over £100 using a credit card, then you might like to ask your bank to intervene on your behalf. This is because under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, they are jointly liable, along with the retailer, on any transactions over £100.

There’s been a few victims with Ice Cream Vans – see http://www.legalbeagles.info/forums/showthread.php?54186-SCAM-amp-FRAUD-ON-EBAY-UK-Mercedes-soft-ice-cream-van-Whitby-morrison-Carpigiani-%A6-28 from last year. It’s likely Michelle was told to pay via bank transfer and was protected by a payment protection scheme. Sadly there is really not much hope of seeing your money again, they usually clean the account out within the hour. If Michelle could go onto LB and post on the forum we’ll try help as much as we can.First thing we need the scammers bank details to get the account shut down so they can’t use it to scam others. Report to your bank, the scammers bank, action fraud as soon as poss. They will sound completely uninterested but it needs doing.

[Sorry Julian, we don’t allow contact details to be posted on Which? Conversation. However, we really appreciate that you’re happy to help Michelle so perhaps you could share some of your advice here? – Thanks, mods]

Richard Corso says:
25 February 2015

One frequent con that takes place on ebay is as follows: You bid for an item and place an upper limit as to what you will pay [this upper limit is only known to yourself] for the product/item. The bids are low so you’re hopeful of picking up the product/item at a bargain price – only to find that at bid closure your not the highest bidder and that the item was sold to another bidder. You then receive an ebay message a day or so later to say that the winning bidder had not paid and as you were the second highest bidder do you want to purchase the product at your upper limit price? Ignore these requests- I’m sure that a friend or relative of the seller is working with the higher bidders to push up the product bid price. with no consequences to the seller for the highest bidders non payment.

michelle deathe says:
26 February 2015

if ebay gives you a details of a account that they had known had been hacked into can I claim my money back from them for wrong doing

Sam Evans says:
4 September 2015

I have a new scam ongoing for a horsebox. I work for a bank so am fully aware of the tactics. I went through all the motions to get as much info as I could and then advised the seller to arrange delivery as they said I did not have to pay up front which rang alarm bells.

Low and behold, an invoice came through from Ebay (the box was advertised on horse and hound) saying I paid up front into a holding account. I have contacted horse and hound and the police to advise them and obviously will not be progressing the sale any further.

Seller called Victor lists expensive (can sell for ¬£10000) camera. Withdraws it after a couple of days. When contacted says it is still for sale and will send an ebay invoice for an agreed price. ‘Ebay invoice’ arrives giving bank transfer as only payment method. Looks fishy so look at the email source code. Says it comes from a site registered at a farm in Cumbria (from ‘whois’ website) but pretending to be ebay. Certain now it is a scam and look up address of seller. It is a boarding house! Should have been warned – first time seller with 100% feedback but as buyer only.

I have been the victim of a Chargeback scam.
I sold a Cartier watch on eBay for £935 which the buyer paid for by Paypal.
The buyer emailed to say she loved the watch and was delighted with the “as new” condition etc.
Just after 3 months later I received a notice from Paypal saying that she was demanding a refund as the watch was not as described…
3 months is the period that eBay allow for items to be returned if not as described…hence the Paypal route which extends to 6 months.
Basically her reason was that the watch bracelet was too large for her wrist….it took her 3 months to decide this….don’t laugh!
Paypal correctly sided with my evidence in the form of emails from the buyer, that proved I was in the right beyond any doubt.
So she went to Visa her card company and they are now claiming a refund for her.
I have since read about this scam and what happens next is that she will get the refund from my Paypal account and keep the watch, as seemingly the card company will always side with the refund policy…..even when the 120 Days limit is exceeded according to the Code 53 claim and even when presented with definitive evidence of my innocence in this ridiculous scam.
Paypal initially said they would act in my defence against the card company as the claim was ludicrous, but after a week or so, changed their minds, so the ball is back in my court…no reason given.
I am awaiting the decision of the Visa card company, but assume I will lose a total of about ¬£1150 including my eBay/Paypal fees….
Having spoken to Paypal several times it became apparent that this is a very common scam, but no-one seems to be interested in resolving the issue or helping the victim…
Any suggestions for a proper resolution would be most welcome!

i recentley bought an expensive bracelet gold ,when it arrived there was a plastic kids bracelt inside . paid £200 . reported to police , but told me its his word against mine , that it was only a plasic bracelt inside help

Please can. you say how you paid for the bracelet, whether the seller was based in the UK or overseas.