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The Most Common Scams on eBay

ebay-scamWant to clear your house of knick knacks without going through the hassle and uncertainty of a garage sale? Want to find a rare, one-of-a-kind item or snag a great deal on expensive electronics? The eBay marketplace still is one the easiest ways for individual buyers and sellers to connect. But, as with all corners of the Internet, there are amoral scammers who lurk in this digital bazaar, ready to strip honest merchants and buyers of their goods and money. While crooks can get pretty creative with their swindles, most scams adhere to a handful of proven tricks.

There are two things you can do to protect yourself from online grifters. Always use a background check service like Instant Checkmate before you finalize the transaction and be familiar with the most common cons on eBay.

1) The "Broken Goods Swap"

In this scam someone will simultaneously purchase the item you have for sale, and an identical, broken item. They will purchase your listing, and you will send your item to them. But when they receive it, they will claim that it was damaged and demand a refund, sometimes sending back the damaged item as proof. If everything goes to plan, they will have essentially tricked you into giving up the item for free. To protect yourself from this scam, always require buyers to purchase shipping insurance.

2) The "Take The Money And Run"

This scam is fairly straightforward. You see an item that you like, you purchase it, and patiently wait for it to arrive. Unfortunately, there's never an end to your waiting because the scammer has simply made off with your cash. With most transactions, this won't be anything more than a minor nuisance since eBay has a buyer protection program. However, if you attempted to purchase a car or a piece of real estate you won't be protected. In fact, one of the biggest scammers in the history of eBay, Nicolae Popescu, swindled Americans out of millions in a fake car buying scheme.

3) The "Overpaying Buyer"

Most sellers on eBay would simply be happy to have a buyer purchase their item for the "Buy It Now" price. But the overpaying buyer has an ever better deal: they offer to pay you your asking price — and then some. These deals sound too good to be true because they always are. These schemers usually tell you that they will send the money as soon as you send them the tracking number. But once the item is out of your hands, the money never comes.

4) The "Let's Settle This Elsewhere"

Since eBay offers some protections for buyers and sellers, scammers are often eager to get you off the site. They say that they will give you a great deal on an item you're selling, but they want to handle it through email. This is only a ploy to scam you without alerting eBay to their fraudulent activities. If you start an auction on eBay, finish it on eBay.

David Rowley is a blogger from Boise, Idaho. He writes about online marketing, internet security, and social media.

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