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Most people get good deals on the Internet’s premier auction site, eBay, but sometimes people get scammed. When it comes to photography gear, it can be a particularly tragic story.
This scam is pretty innovative if we do say so ourselves: Stealing a brand new Sony camera and replacing it with an older model in a slick switch that gets around all of eBay's procedures and takes advantage of their generous buyer protections.
That means the buyer got a new camera and their money back while the seller got an older camera and was out of the selling price of the new camera. If you’ve ever used eBay then you probably already know how the scammer got around eBay’s pretty strong buyer protections.
Since the older model is so similar in look and style to the new model that the scammer “bought,” eBay’s team probably couldn’t distinguish between them anyway and the scammer’s claim that the buyer sent them the older model to begin with makes the scheme that much more nefarious. Liz Moughton’s story appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle and was picked up by other news outlets from there, becoming a warning to people who sell gear on eBay.
The unopened Sony a6500 with 18-135mm lens kit sold for $USD 1,400 but the scammer claimed that he received a Sony NEX-6 with a 20mm lens. Moughton said to PetaPixel, “I asked them if they could investigate the buyer, but they said no because they had to follow their procedure..The buyer returned the Sony NEX-6 camera. (It was of similar size and weight so I didn’t bother trying to get USPS involved because shipping had gone smoothly.) eBay refunded him $1,400. The case was closed.”
She continues, “I requested to re-open the case with my new photos proving that I received a camera different from what I listed. I heard nothing for several days, so I called again. eBay asked for a police report. I got a police incident report, and the officer said they don’t deal with online shopping at all but that he would be happy to speak to eBay for me. I sent it in. I heard nothing for several days, so I called again. This time they asked for an affidavit. I filled that out and sent it back. No word again. I waited a few days and called in. This time the person on the phone told me my case had been denied for the second time. They didn’t even bother to contact me to tell me that.”
After getting nowhere using eBay’s system, Moughton obviously leveraged the power of the pen (read: social media) and finally got eBay to refund everything after they looked into it again.
Moral of the story? Seller beware and be prepared for a bureaucratic battle should you choose to sell something to a sophisticated thief.