This happened to me days ago and I have to post about it because if you’re not really careful, you could maybe see their plight and not only lose your payment, but your item.

I sold an iPhone on eBay last week. I sold it for less than I probably should have, but it was needed to get a newer phone and at a good price for a used iPhone.

It sold within minutes of me posting it. I list items on eBay all the time and have a great rating. I’m super familiar with the process, but anyone who is not could fall victim to this scam.

Moments after the sell, I received an eBay message that reads:

“Hey there! Thanks for the Phone. I hope everything is good with that one. I have changed town because my son is in hospital. I want to do it as a gift. Sorry for bothering and here is the address where you have to send it please.”

Address is in Wilmington, Delaware.

Anyway, I knew immediately that it was not the buyer. Not really because of the language – incidentally the buyer was also Russian with broken English (and in Delaware!, but def legit — I followed up) – but because I catalogued the buyer’s handle in my mental rolodex. The handles/usernames were very different.

You have to be very careful even with eBay messages. Not only that, but contacting customer support over this was challenging, which is why I’m providing a step-by-step.

The website will walk you through how to file a complaint, but not over an issue like this. Not right now. What you have to do is call the following number and also follow these specific instructions to make sure you talk to a person without getting unnecessarily redirected or inadvertently dropping the call by answering incorrectly.

  • Call 1 (866) 540-3229
  • You will get an informative list of invalid reasons for reporting someone and then a question about whether or not it resolves your issue
  • When prompted to answer, simply say “Customer Service” and you will be transferred to a live person

I was able to report the user posing as the person buying my phone. I was also reassured that the admins would be adding customer support for this particular issue, since there is, at present, no topic for this on their site.

This is a good time to also list some other eBay scams to beware of and things to look for:

  • Never mail your item to a different address even if it is the person who bought it (call eBay following the instructions above and ask them for assistance)
  • Check the buyer’s rating and feedback (the person who sent the fraudulent email about buying my phone had a zero rating and feedback)
  • A buyer threatens negative feedback because the item is “not as described” — call eBay following the instructions above and ask them for assistance
  • A buyer asks you to accept a sale outside of eBay – Never, ever, ever do this! You pay the fees to eBay for the protection they provide. Don’t go around this even for the marginal amount you might save because that is what scammers are counting on; that you want to save money on fees.

Please be careful, especially with electronics equipment. I’ve never had this problem before, but the last high-end piece of equipment I sold was in 2015. Times are changing and con artists are constantly upping their game. All I could think was, ‘What if this was my mother? She would surely be sympathetic to this, thinking it was the buyer moments after the purchase!‘ Very calculating. Grrrrr…..