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Internet auction sites, such as eBay and others have provided a great platform for literally millions of users to buy or sell virtually anything from unwanted household goods to high value items at the click of a button. The vast majority of sales are concluded promptly and to the satisfaction of both parties.

However the sheer volume of transactions performed on online auctions mean that it is inevitable that some auction users will fall prey to fraudsters. Official figures for online auction fraud are hard to come by, evidence suggests that auction site users can be reluctant to report small cases of fraud which makes any reporting difficult.

eBay have stated previously that "The percentage of auctions that end in a confirmed case of fraud on eBay is less than - one one-hundredth of one percent" However each month about 130 auction related crimes are reported to London's Metropolitan Police, a trend thought to be mirrored right across the UK.

5 Common Frauds include the following:

  • Spoof E-mails

  • Some auction users have reported receiving deceptive e-mails claiming to come from eBay, Pay-Pal or other popular websites. These e-mails are generally known as 'spoof' or 'phishing' e-mails. The people who send these e-mails hope that unsuspecting recipients will reply or click on a link contained in the e-mail and then provide sensitive personal information such as eBay passwords, credit card numbers or bank account details. "To protect yourself, remember that eBay will never ask you for your private information, such as credit card information or your account password, in an email," eBay warned users in a recent email alert. "eBay will never send you any request or solicitation from a non-eBay email account or provide a link outside of eBay for entering credit card or other private information."

  • Account Take-overs / Identity Theft

  • A customer's login and password are compromised. This occurs when a customer logs into a site designed to look like a genuine website, for example a Pay-Pal web site. Personal details such as full address, date of birth, mothers maiden name, credit card numbers, bank account details are requested and supplied by the unsuspecting customer. The fraudster is then able to either 'hack' into the account or/and open an account using the 'stolen' identity.

  • Shill Bidding

  • Method by which an auctioneer bids on his or her own auction to inflate the price.

  • False Adverts

  • Using trading accounts set up with false identities. Any member of an auction site is able to place an advert offering an item for sale. These frauds are simply committed by fraudsters placing adverts to sell items that they do not have or they have no intention of selling. The 'buying' member, having won the auction, will then transfer money into an account specified by the fraudster with no item of property being exchanged.

  • 'Second Chance' Fraud

  • Scammers are impersonating eBay sellers in an attempt to hoodwink users of the online auction site into handing over payment for non-existent goods. If the person who wins an auction on the site fails to buy the goods, the second highest bidder of an auction may be offered the option to purchase goods at his/her offer price. In some cases fraudsters are e-mailing the second highest bidder claiming the winner has 'pulled out'. The fraudster requests the money is paid direct into an account and victim does not receive the goods.

    Be Safe & Happy Bidding!!

    Links You May Find Helpful:
    Click To See A List Of Auction Sites
    eBay Standard Purchase Protection Programme
    eBay Worldwide Sites
    5 Common Auction Scams
    What to do if it goes wrong?
    5 Tips For Safer Bidding
    Free Online Auction Tools

    Auction Lotwatch Free Tools For The Auction Community!
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    Extracts Copyright eBay Inc & Copyright The Metropolitan Police.