What to do when an Ebay buyer tries to scam you


There was a Slickdeals thread a few weeks ago on some Apple Nike watches.  I had some Nike gift cards from the AMEX Offers, so decided to flip some of those.  I listed all 4 on Ebay and all sold pretty quickly.  And sure enough, someone tried to scam me.  By the way, I started taking pictures of the shipping label alongside the serial number of the big ticket items I sell a few months ago just in case this day comes.  


Buyer scam

So this buyer with 13 feedback (although joined since 2009) sends me a message a day after he gets it saying that only the charger was in the box.  I told him that made no sense since the item was brand new.  I then asked him if it was sealed (since it was sealed when I shipped it out.)  He then says NO it wasn’t.  I told him that he was lying and was a scammer.  He then says he’s not and then files a return, including pictures of the empty box.


Early bird gets the worm

Before we continue with the story, let me tell you a reader story that happened a few months ago.  My reader bought an expensive camera on Ebay and a piece was missing/broken.  They then tried to return it to the seller, and the seller said she was trying to scam them.  She then filed a return request.  A few hours later, her return request was denied and she couldn’t do anything else via Ebay.  I then told her to dispute through Paypal and worst case, dispute the charge on their credit card.  I don’t know what happened after that, but I knew what had happened.  The seller had called up Ebay, pleaded their case, and essentially shut down the buyer.


Calling up Ebay

Finding a way for Ebay to contact you isn’t self explanatory, but it’s there if you click around enough.  I then had Ebay call me on a Sunday morning.  I was shocked when I heard an American voice on the phone on a weekend; I for sure was expecting an overseas rep.  Anyway, I told her that the buyer was trying to scam me since I had sold the other 3 without issue and this was a lowly rep buyer (hey, reputation matters.)  She put me on hold to go through the details.  After a minute or two, she came back and told me she’d take care of the return, and that I should ‘report the buyer,’ so that there’s a record of this event against them.

Sure enough, 10 minutes later, I get an email saying this:

eBay opened a case because of an issue with an item purchased from you. We reviewed the case and have decided to issue the buyer a refund of $379.95 without any impact to you.

This case is now closed. You are not required to reimburse the buyer or eBay, and this case will not be counted in your seller performance evaluation.

You can view the details of the case in the Resolution Center.

It seems that Ebay refunded the buyer, but didn’t withdraw the money from my Papal so they must have ate it themselves, which as much as I hate Ebay, was not the outcome I wanted.  This scammer had successfully scammed himself into a free watch (at Ebay’s expense and not mine.)  


Lessons Learned

Whether you are a buyer or seller on Ebay, just know that the first person to talk to a human usually wins.

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  • Mark Ostermann

    Just had this happen to one of my Kindle sales. He had a 0 rating and ordered 2 under separate orders and then filed a claim on one of the orders today with PayPal. I called eBay to make them aware in case he files something with them but he jumped right to PayPal which I found interesting.

    • Miles per Day

      what was the paypal complaint? unauthorized charge or something else?

      • Mark Ostermann

        Yup unauthorized transaction – just filed the second one with PayPal.

        • Miles per Day

          Ship out a rock. =)

          • Mark Ostermann

            Haha – might just have to.

            I had sent him a message saying both would be in the same box which he responded that it was ok. Acknowledging he was ok with 2 being ordered – I attached a snip of this convo for PayPal.

            I took a picture of the shipping slip with the UPC of both kindles (after reading this post – thanks by the way).

            I also attached a snip of the order details showing the addresses etc. match. Unless he had his account hacked there is nothing he can say.

            If PayPal sides with him it would be complete BS – but it is PayPal so I guess we will see.

          • Miles per Day

            You don’t need all that. To win ‘unauthorized use’ you just need to show you shipped something out with tracking.

          • Mark Ostermann

            Well they got it all anyways….this makes me more hopeful though thanks!

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  • Same exact thing happened to me, I sold a pre-owned iphone on ebay, (currently 100% and over 200+ feedback) the buyer was fairly new and filed a claim that the phone shuts off randomly, which was a lie since I took plenty of pics of it working for the auction. Ebay put a hold on my paypal for the funds since the buyer opened up a refund request, then I called ebay and after about a 20 min call they said they would give me back the funds and also the buyer (ebay eating the cost of about $180)

  • Ken

    This is why I stopped selling electronics on ebay unless they’re cheaper items. So many scammers that it’s not worth it. Amazon is full of them too, especially if you’re an FBA seller. AZ will accept any return and debit your account without inspecting anything. And if you don’t use FBA the buyer gets refunded before they even have to send anything back to you. AZ has been making it easier and easier for scammers every time they roll out new “enhancements”.

  • Joe

    FWIW, Nike had some issues with fulfillment with these watches. So even though it’s most likely this guy was scamming, it’s **possible** he wasn’t. I know a couple people who bought new watches and ended up getting open box items. Back during the 10% Discover Apple Pay + 2x I was flipping a bunch of iPhones on ebay. One of them was purchased by someone in Russia. I used the Global shipping program — I essentially ship the item to ebay and then they ship it out to the foreign country. The buyer had 1 feedback and claimed an empty box. But luckily because I used the Global Shipping Program, ebay has already confirmed that the item was what I said it was. At the end of the day, Ebay refunded the buyer, and I kept my money as well.

    • Miles per Day

      It was a sealed watch. I highly doubt it was an empty box.

  • Justin

    Vinh, your articles are great but whats with being so vague? “but it’s there if you click around enough.”

    • Miles per Day

      Wasn’t intentional. I took me a while to figure out how to get them to contact me and by that time, I forgot how I wound up on that page.