8 eBay Buyer Scams You Should Know About

  • 6 minutes
  • eBay, eBay Tips
  • Danica Dimayuga, Kyle Anderson

eBay has long been plagued with eBay buyer scams that can make selling on eBay a living hell.

But it doesn’t always have to be difficult if you know what to look out for.

Here’s how you can avoid the most common eBay buyer scams and keep your accounts and profit in great shape.

1. Buyer Sends You a Fake PayPal Email Notification

After every sale, PayPal will send a notification email to the seller summarizing buyer’s payment. The scammer sent a fake one. After seeing this notification, sellers ship the product to the customer or winning bidder just like any normal sale. However, after logging into PayPal or logging in to eBay to check the payment, these sellers will find that the item was marked “bought” but not “paid for”.

The nightmare doesn’t end there. If the seller clicks on links in the fake email and then logs in to a fake Paypal website, the scammer now also has your Paypal login. This eBay buyer scam allows the scammer to withdraw money or scam others using the sellers account.

eBay Buyer Scam Solution:

The problem here lies on the seller. Always check your mail by cross checking the information with PayPal. Never login to Paypal or eBay from links sent to you via email. always go to the websites directly. Scammers will setup clones of Paypal/eBay login pages assuming you wont pay attention.

No matter how small the sale, every seller must cross checked to make sure the money transfer was made. PayPal email notifications can be fake. Login pages can be fake. Even if you check the web address, it could be something like www.paypalco.com which is obviously fake if you are paying attention.

2. Buyer Sends You a Fake eBay Email Notification

Like the payment notification scam above, eBay emails can also be replicated and faked. Links are usually provided along with the emails to trick you into logging into your eBay account. Once you do and review payments, the scammer can hack your account.

These links can take you into a made-up eBay website which they created. This is  the worst kind of hack you can experience when selling on eBay. Not only will they have access to your eBay store account, they can kick you out by changing your password. Your customers, your identity and credibility as a seller are all at risk. eBay has published a table differentiating what an email from a scammer contains and what their real emails contain. Read all about it here.

eBay Buyer Scam Solution:

For your protection, it’s best to never click links on the emails you receive from eBay. Instead, log into your eBay business account in a separate window. If you receive an email from eBay, check the sender’s address first before you open the email itself. If you received any spoof emails, help other sellers by reporting them here.

3. Buyer Lies To eBay And Says Item is Defective

Known as the “bait and switch method”, this trick lets scammers ruin  your sale and your credibility with eBay. The bait and switch method happens when scammer buys your product or wins your auction. Everything seems to be going well. You’ve shipped the product, you’ve tracked it, and the buyer has received it. You think the sale has been successful. Then the buyer sends a complaint to eBay. They say your product is defective either pre-sale or during shipment.

Because of eBay’s Buyer Protection Policy, you have to give the buyer a full refund. The worst part of this scam is not that you have to give the buyer the money back. It’s that the buyer swaps your functional item for broken one and then mails you back the broken one.

eBay Buyer Scam Solution:

Most scammers that do this, do it from either hacked buyer accounts or brand new accounts with little to no feedback and eBay picks up on it pretty fast. Make sure in your eBay seller settings you limit who you sell to. Require Paypal instant payments. Don’t sell to users with negative feedback. Block buyer usernames who you think are being mischievous.

Alternative options are available but only apply to certain products. You can list an item and include a “no refunds/returns” policy. You can require buyer cover insurance. You can sell non-electronic non-electric items. Etc… Sellers need to accept return requests most of the time, so stating a no refunds scheme is almost futile since if the item is defective your return policy doesn’t matter.

Another good trick to do is to take down the serial number of the item. Make non-removable marks on the item before shipping them out. This way, if you do get your item back, you can be sure that it’s the same item you shipped and take additional methods and claims against the buyer.

This scam is a tough one. If it happens to you often enough to lose money you might want to re-consider your business model as you are either not selling enough product to cover this risks or you are selling in a market that has more potential for scams.

Most buyers are good and most transactions g smoothly. Usually scams like this are rare. If it happens on 1/100 sales, write it off as a small loss and the cost of doing business and move on.

4. Buyer Wants You to Sell Your Item Outside of Your eBay Listing

A buyer may request the item you’re selling on eBay outside of the website. Keep in mind that agreeing to this will strip you of any protection from eBay or any service you use with eBay. This includes PayPal. If something goes wrong, none of the online services you use will provide you with help.

eBay Buyer Scam Solution:

You can listen to that buyer’s reasons for wanting to buy outside of eBay, but never act on it. Remember that you’re an eBay seller. Trading outside of your eBay store loses all protections. So after reading your customer’s reason, you can only do two things. You can ignore them or turn their offer down and tell them you only sell on eBay.

5. Buyer Insists He/She Paid Outside of PayPal

Receiving payments on PayPal from outside the eBay checkout system is a red flag. A buyer trying to pay outside of your eBay store can only mean two things: One: it’s not the true winning bidder. It’s someone else who saw your listing and wants to have the item shipped to his address. Two: it’s someone who hacked a PayPal account and would like you to ship the item to their address instead. It could be both, so you better watch out and cross check everything before shipping the item.

eBay Buyer Scam Solution:

Only accept Paypal payments through eBay’s checkout system. Disregard anything else and simply tell the buyer they must pay via through eBay using Paypal or they will not receive their item.

6. Buyer Requests a Partial Refund

Buyers requesting a partial refund for an item shipped late or not as they had expected is a common eBay buyer scam red flag. These scammers target those who are customer-oriented in nature and have high feedback ratings. Many eBay business owners fall for this to keep their customer service ratings high. Some even give in to scammers like these to end the open case and keep their account clean. However, doing this, just encourages them to find more people to scam or to scam you again.

eBay Buyer Scam Solution:

You can resolve this matter by requiring buyers to return or exchange the item instead. You can still give people partial refunds but you should be the one requesting it NOT the buyer.

7. Buyer Asks If You Ship Internationally (With A Twist!)

Buyers asking for international shipping is nothing suspicious. Buyers offering alternative payment methods with an overpayment is. If buyer offers to pay higher for the item or  requests to change  payment methods, the buyer you’re dealing with is more likely a scammer. They are trying to fool you into receiving payment from a hacked or fraudulent account which will eventually get a chargeback and be refunded.

eBay Buyer Scam Solution:

Simple. Ignore these buyers or turn them down.

8. Buyer Asks To Ship To A Different Address

Buyer purchases an item and then pays for it. Hours later they send you a message saying they entered the wrong address or that they recently moved. They will ask you to change the address. If you do change the address, the buyer will say they never received the package and the address on the order will not match the address on the tracking information. Buyer will win the claim and you will lose the money and the scammer will keep the item.

eBay Buyer Scam Solution:

Allow at least 4 or more hours between the time you make the sale and the time you ship. This usually allows for enough time to catch issues like this. Sometimes buyers make legitimate mistakes and you need to cancel the order. Always ship to the address on the order. If you do not you lose seller protection from eBay and Paypal. If the buyer insists address is wrong, cancel order and tell buyer to replace order with correct address. Just say it is against eBay policy to ship elsewhere as both seller and buyer protections are lost. If you shipped the item already, call for an intercept for package to be returned. If item was already delivered, you will have to go through an open case and show that you shipped it to address and provide tracking details. It’s the buyers mistake not yours.


The scam examples we’ve listed above are only some of the notorious eBay buyer scams out there. As technology progresses, these eBay scammers find more ways into seller’s eBay store and PayPal accounts. Be mindful of every transaction you make, every email you open, and every message you respond to. You’ll never know when a scammer might strike. Stay safe and keep selling!

Have you encountered any of the eBay buyer scams we listed? We hope not! But if you did, feel free to tell us all about in a comment below.

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