Fraud on ebay classifieds is not uncommon. However, false advertisements and alleged sellers cannot be recognized at first glance. Triangle fraud in particular is a popular trick. Find out how to protect yourself.
ebay Classified Ads is the most popular portal when it comes to trading second-hand goods online. From toys to furniture to cars and real estate – there’s an ad for everything. But be careful: not every advertisement is real. It may be attempted fraud. The triangular fraud is considered a particularly deceitful scam. There are some pointers you can use to spot ebay classifieds scams and protect yourself as a buyer or seller.
How does triangle fraud work?
In order to spot ebay classifieds scam, one needs to understand how it works. As the name suggests, three people are involved in triangular fraud: the seller, the fraudster and the buyer.
The fraud could go as follows. Imagine a seller advertising a MacBook on ebay classifieds. The scammer becomes aware of this ad and now creates an identical ad for the same MacBook with the same sales conditions. In the meantime, he contacts the actual seller of the MacBook and informs them that he is interested in buying and asks for his payment details. Up to this point it is actually a normal buying process on ebay classified ads.
The real fraud begins the moment a prospect answers the fraudulent ad and wants to buy the MacBook from the fraudster. The interested party also asks for the payment details, but the fraudster does not transmit his own payment details, but rather the payment details of the original seller on ebay classifieds.
The unsuspecting prospect pays the amount and informs the fraudster, who forwards the information to the actual seller. The seller does not suspect anything and sends the MacBook to the address given by the fraudster. The unsuspecting buyer reports after a while and asks about the shipping status of the MacBook. But the fraudster has now gone into hiding with this one.
What Should You Do If You Have Been Involved in an ebay Classifieds Scam?
Have you paid for a classifieds item on eBay that didn’t reach you and the seller seems to have been swallowed by the earth? Then you may have been the victim of eBay classifieds fraud. But don’t panic: the seller usually bears the damage, as the unsuspecting buyer is entitled to a refund of the purchase price.
If you discover a fraud, you should immediately report it to eBay Classifieds and ask for clarification on your case. If you have paid with PayPal Buyer Protection, you have the option of getting the money back via PayPal if the seller does not provide evidence that the goods have been shipped. Since the fraudster has long since disappeared with the goods, there is no proof and you will usually get your money back. The victim in this case is the actual seller, who now receives neither the goods nor the money.
What Does eBay Classifieds Do To Prevent Fraud?
Even if eBay Classifieds cannot check every ad for possible fraud, the platform offers possibilities to buy and sell goods securely.
“Pay securely” function
To protect buyers and sellers from fraud, ebay Classifieds launched its own payment system in October 2020. Similar to PayPal buyer protection, “Pay safely” offers protection to the buyer or seller.
For this, the buyer pays a fee depending on the agreed purchase price. The use of the function is free of charge for the seller. “Pay securely” ensures that the buyer gets the money back if the goods don’t arrive or if they deviate significantly from the description.
In the case of the MacBook sale described above, both buyers and sellers on ebay classifieds are protected from fraud. The money is only paid to the seller once the buyer has confirmed receipt of the goods. Another plus: The payment details of those involved remain secret during the entire transaction – buyers and sellers do not have to disclose them to each other.
How Can You Detect and Protect Yourself from ebay Classifieds Fraud?
Fraud on ebay classifieds is not immediately apparent. That is why you should protect yourself as best you can. This includes:
1. Recognize reputable providers
Sellers who refuse personal contact or want to communicate via other channels (e-mail, messenger apps) should immediately be suspect. Fraudsters reduce contact to a minimum and do not want to use ebay classified ads to make purchases.
That is why we advise you: Communicate only via ebay classifieds and check the sellers carefully to protect yourself against fraud. How long has he or she been registered on ebay classifieds? Call the number provided to verify that it really belongs to the seller.
2. Choose a secure payment method
Pay with buyer protection – whether using the “secure payment” function or PayPal. This is how you, as a buyer and seller, can protect yourself against fraud on ebay classified ads.
Basically: If the ebay classifieds seller would like to receive a payment confirmation (e.g. by email), they should always check the receipt of money directly in their respective account or in the respective app. Fraudsters often send bogus proof of payment.
Sellers should exclude personal collection of the goods, as the handover cannot be reliably proven in this way and fraud is thus facilitated. Cash in an envelope should neither be used as a payment method nor accepted by sellers.
3. Detect forged documents
ID cards, employment contracts, transfer receipts – all documents that are easy to forge and that look forbidden to be real. You should therefore be suspicious until the authenticity has been proven.
You should first check company information in service or job advertisements using Internet search engines. In the case of specific job offers, all information must be checked for plausibility. What is the work order? Is the task meaningful and logical? Is the stated payment for it proportionate?
4. Protect data
Do not give out bank details, ID card details or account details carelessly . You should also never give copies of this data to others. In the event of attempted fraud, your data can be used to open bank accounts or online accounts that are misused for illegal activities.