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EBAY Car Scams

Ebay Car Scams

eBay Motors connects millions of used car buyers and sellers every year.

However, wherever large sums of money change hands, scammers follow. As an experienced eBay Motors user from my time as a car dealer, I’ve seen my fair share of attempted frauds.

In this guide, you’ll learn the most common ebay car scams (Plus one eBay scam no one tells you about) to watch for and proven tips to safely buy or sell vehicles on eBay Motors.

Key Takeaways:

  • Scammers exploit eBay Motors using fake listings, payment frauds, bait-and-switches, and more to steal money from buyers and sellers.
  • Telltale red flags include deals too good to be true, vague posts, pushy demands, and requests for risky payment types.
  • Safely buy or sell cars online by inspecting vehicles in-person, paying through eBay, researching thoroughly, and leveraging purchase protection.

Most Common eBay Motors Scams

While eBay Motors enables convenient online car transactions, scammers leverage these marketplaces to target unsuspecting buyers and sellers. Be especially wary of:

Fake Vehicle Listings

  • Scammers list vehicles copied from other ads or use stock images of cars they don’t actually own.
  • Aiming to lure shoppers with unbelievable prices or details, fake listings disappear after receiving payments.
  • A 2021 FBI report found over 8,300 fake online car sale scams, duping victims out of $54 million.

Third-Party Payment Fraud

  • Sellers insist on using untraceable money transfers like wire, bank, or third-party services instead of eBay payments.
  • Payments clear initially, but days or weeks later Victims discover the funds were fraudulent, disappearing from their account.

Vehicle History Manipulation

  • Sellers alter vehicle history reports to hide damage, accidents, salvage titles status, or mileage fraud.
  • Buyers only uncover the truth about these “clean” cars after experiencing breakdowns, title issues, or other problems.

Bait-and-Switch Scams

  • Sellers switch attractive vehicles shown in listings with older, damaged models upon delivery.
  • Since buyers already paid sight-unseen, they struggle to recover funds as scammers disappear.

eBay Money Back Guarantee Scam

One eBay scam I found myself the victim of as a car dealer was people using the ebay money back guarantee to rip me off.

Essentially, how this works is that the buyer receives the vehicle and either creates damage or finds damage/flaws you didn’t disclose, then uses these as leverage so that eBay can force you to give them a portion of their payment back.

What separates this scam from all the others is that these people are real car buyers who legitimately want the car.

Their intent isn’t to cheat you out of all your money but to force you into giving them what essentially amounts to a discount by using eBay to force you to give them money back.

Unfortunately, once the car has been delivered, there is only one way that eBay will side with you (The seller),

and that is by having plenty of photos, videos, and a detailed description of the vehicle that either discloses the issues the buyer raised, or proves that they did not exist prior to delivery.

eBay car scam video

eBay Motors scams are on the rise, causing financial harm to more car buyers and sellers annually:

  • In 2020, eBay detected a 54% increase in unique eBay phishing URLs, putting it among the top 20 most impersonated brands for phishing that year. Many of these phishing scams targeted eBay Motors users.
  • One innovative eBay Motors scam that emerged in 2020 involved used cars, motorcycles, and RVs. Across the US, buyers were duped into purchasing vehicles that were never delivered, with losses totaling over $745,000.
  • In the first half of 2022, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received over 1,500 complaints related to online vehicle sale scams, with reported losses exceeding $28 million. Many complaints involved eBay Motors and other online car marketplaces.
  • The median financial loss for online shopping scams reported to the FBI in 2021 was $600. However, for vehicle-related scams the median loss was $4,300 – over 7 times higher.
  • One analysis of 130,000 eBay Motors listings found that roughly 5% showed signs of being potentially fraudulent, including issues like duplicated VINs, unrealistic prices, stock photos, and new seller accounts.

6 Red Flags to Identify eBay Motors Scams

Stay vigilant for these common indicators of potential fraud on eBay Motors listings:

1. Vague Details & Errors

Listings with limited vehicle specifics, excessive punctuation, spelling/grammar errors, or text copied across scam listings should raise suspicions.

2. Highly Aggressive Sellers

Pushy demands to “act fast” before exploring listings or asking questions usually signal fraudulent intent.

3. Payment Outside eBay

Requests for wire transfers, gift cards, Bitcoin, prepaid debit cards, MoneyGram, or other unconventional payments should instantly halt communications.

4. No In-Person Inspection

Sellers unwilling or unable to meet in-person likely don’t actually possess the vehicle advertised.

5. Additional Surprise Fees

Scammers sneakily pile on extra shipping, storage, customs, or other invented fees after you agree to a purchase.

6. Too Good to be True Pricing

Ridiculously low prices aim to trigger impulse purchases before buyers scrutinize listings or seller credibility.

Safely Buying & Selling Cars on eBay Motors

Protect yourself from scams using these proven tactics:

For Buyers

Research SellersVerify seller ratings, reviews, social profiles, and credentials before negotiations.
Confirm Car DetailsCross-reference VINs with vehicle history reports from sources like Carfax.
Inspect In-PersonMake your own assessment of the vehicle condition before money changes hands.
Use eBay PaymentsComplete transactions using secure eBay payment methods only.
Review Purchase ProtectionUnderstand what eBay vehicle protections you can leverage if scammed.

For Sellers

Avoid High-Risk BuyersDon’t negotiate outside eBay or with new, no-feedback accounts.
Photograph EverythingTake ample photos/video documenting your vehicle’s condition.
Make Buyers Pick UpDon’t ship vehicles sight-unseen without inspected third-party transport.
Handle Payments SafelyOnly accept credit cards, certified bank checks, cash on verified funds pickup.
Report Suspicions PromptlyQuickly notify eBay if you suspect attempted scams or fraud.

What To Do if Scammed on eBay Motors

If you already lost money to an eBay Motors scam, act swiftly to limit damages and seek recovery:

  • Report Fraud to eBay – Detail the scam specifics so eBay can remove fraudulent accounts and listings.
  • File Claims with Payment Processor – If you paid via PayPal, credit card, or other protected form, file a claim.
  • Contact the FTC – Reporting scams to the Federal Trade Commission aids investigations and protections.
  • Work with Local Authorities – For high-value frauds, file police reports to potentially help recover losses.
  • Monitor Accounts for Identity Theft – Ensure scammers don’t leverage compromised personal details for further fraud.

Unfortunately, recovery options are very limited if you wired cash or sent gift cards. Make these last resorts after exhausting other avenues.

Steer Clear of eBay Motors Scams

As online buying and selling explodes, fraudsters take advantage of marketplaces like eBay Motors with sophisticated scams.

However, awareness of common techniques coupled with safe transaction practices can help you avoid becoming another victim.

Pay attention to red flags, exercise caution when contacting strangers, and leverage security layers from eBay and financial institutions.

Sources and References

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Picture of Steve Momot - Author

Steve Momot - Author

Steve, a seasoned expert in the automotive industry, formerly held a car dealer license in Florida. With extensive experience spanning across car trading and mechanical work, he founded Autohitch. His mission? To guide both buyers and sellers through the intricate maze of car purchasing, ensuring a seamless and informed experience. Outside of the automotive world, Steve has a passion for fishing and capturing the beauty of nature through photography.


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