I'm aghast at the moment reading comments on Ebay and what has happened the past year alone from ebay's own community forum and seller posts.

I'm seeing hundreds, actually thousands of reviews to where prominent sellers on Ebay for nearly 16 years have decided to abandon it altogether after being scammed by buyers.

From what I am seeing, Ebay always sides with the buyer 99% of the time. But what these buyers appear to be doing is that they temporarily pay for a product, get you to ship it to them, then they damage it...and then either demand a full refund or modify it and send have the seller pay to have it shipped back to the seller at which point it's discovered that parts have been removed (that cannot be seen or proven in the pictures according to Ebay) and are returned broken beyond repair or sale of any kind.

Basically, the buyer steals from the seller, makes the seller think they made a sale, and then Ebay helps the buyer scam the seller, and will go to the extent of taking funds back out of the seller's account to give to the scammer who acted as a buyer. Some of these buyers/scammers even keep the entire product and send fake USPS and FedEx tracking numbers back to the seller, and only when they do that instead of the first method have sellers been able to keep their money in a fraction of the cases where they were actually able to prove it and were very lucky that there was enough information still to do so.

Suddenly, I am not so enthusiastic about selling on Ebay. Worse, I am extremely worried about losing what I am currently selling this week. Normally, I have joint access to a friend's business account and it's mostly digital services that we've sold through his, so we haven't had anything to really lose if they try to take advantage of him.

With this however, it's different because it's not something that can be listed with his account the way I needed to, so I am taking a chance in listing it with my own.

I haven't sold any high-dollar physical items on here on my own account for several years, but always had 100% positive feedback when I did (back in 2009 or 2010 was the last time I sold with it; we've used his account for ebay digital services since 2011, and his wife uses her account for any tangible items of nominal dollar amounts if sold).

So I just listed something 4 days ago under my personal account that will end in an auction in 1 or 2 days, but I'm worried that the statistical likelyhood of being digitally robbed to where the expensive item may be stolen from me is 75% higher than before, and that Ebay will help them do it.

If you are a regular seller on Ebay who does auctions, buy-it-now listings, or you have a storefront with high-dollar items that you sell but cannot insure for damages beyond on earth do you protect yourself as a seller?

Fedex and USPS insurance only protects the delivery and shipping. Once it's out of their hands, nothing can be done to recover from that if it was shipped correctly but damaged or intentionally sabotaged by the buyer.

Ebay protects themselves as the middleman, and the buyer is protected by Ebay even if they are a scammer. So what does a seller do to make sure they can protect themselves against fradulent buyers online like this and not lose a high ticket item investment or sale?

Any advice, ideas, or way to obtain 3rd party insurance somehow last-minute to cover an existing sale would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
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T J Tutor

This is a tough one. Always a risk of fraud involved. I expect that some type of fraud protection insurance can be applied. I usually sell any high ticket items with a no return policy. Especially electronics.


Yes, indeed. I was hoping that I had missed some clause or statement somewhere when reading through the buyer/seller agreements, but what I found thus far is that even if you offer no returns (the listing I have is that way too, to where it's sold without a return policy), Ebay steps in between that and offers them special buyer protection.

With that protection, they can make a claim, and Ebay will place your funds in escrow without your consent. If you pull those funds out, then they will have paypal use your required backup method to fund your account (pulling from a credit card or bank account if you're a verified paypal premiere business account on Paypal).

If it's a small sale under a few hundred dollars or $100 or so, that isn't normally that big of a deal but can still be a hassle for multiple items. When it is a large ticket item, there's a massive potential for loss and theft on it because even though you offer no return policy, Ebay allows the buyer or scammer to instantly create a claim which can place your funds on hold for 30 days (Paypal holds onto it and makes interest off of it during that time). This gives the buyer nearly a month to get the product for free, modify or take what they want of value out of it, break it, repackage it, or send it back to you (at your own expense on top of this) and then say that the product was like that when it was not.

Using photo evidence is no longer acceptable to Ebay because they claim that Photoshop could have been used by the seller (seriously?) to modify the evidence before it was shipped. Yet, they do not even need that evidence from the buyer to let them steal the item from you, and then give them _your_ money back. If it's connected to your bank account or paypal and you didn't anticipate being scammed, them doing this can make you go negative or cause other serious issues because their rules say they can take it out instantly without warning to compensate (assist in theft) on behalf of the buyer.

The product I'm selling has a price tag of nearly $1,450 on it. It may sell for between $900 to $1200. With all the other things going on right now financially, I can't afford to take a hit like that at all. A few months ago, I could have. But I think at this point, I might opt to end the auction early and lose $15 on the reserve fee listing and any other fee they charge, rather than risk losing a $1200 to $1400 item to a scam they won't protect the seller from.

What would you do? Still try to sell it and take the risk of what could happen here...or back out and just take the hit on the $15-$45 they charge and try to sell it another (safer) way instead?

T J Tutor

I don't do a lot of selling on eBay, but I do know that you are raising very important topics regarding the matters of selling on eBay.

I know that delivery confirmation is important as well as never using private emails for communication. Always use the My eBay interface for communications. If you receive anything that can't be verified in Messages - forward it to or

I also completely review a seller's profile as well as a buyers profile before doing business with them.

It seems to me that fraud is on both sides of the aisle in eBay. I am sure that eBay is very intent on curbing and/or eliminating any chances that fraud may be involved at any level with both buyers and sellers. Otherwise the demise of their buying/selling platform would be at risk of total collapse.

I don't know that buyers and sellers concerns can ever be 100% sated on eBay (et. al.), but any online transaction between two unrelated parties will most always have some level of risk!


i sold a lot on ebay, only ever had 1 false claim the paypal instantly refunded. Buyer said the item was never ordered and someone else had used the account to do it (item had already been delivered and signed for), but because they said someone else had used the account their bank issued a charge back, which paypal never attempted to fight, just refunded the order without even contacting me, and letting the customer keep the item and the funds. If they had I would have agreed to refund the order, once the item had been shipped back.
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