TamebayTV: how to deal with eBay UK buyer fraud

By Dan Wilson July 29, 2017 - 9:51 pm

Here is the next in our TamebayTV series of ‘How To’ videos for eBay sellers.

Our first one looked at optimising your eBay listings. The second instalment considered eBay’s Best Match system. Every eBay seller needs to be an expert in Best Match, it’s how eBay displays items to shoppers.

The week’s episode looks at eBay Buyer Fraud. That’s how you cope with buyers who say the goods you sent didn’t arrive. It’s often easy to spot but eBay does seem to find, anecdotally according to sellers, usually in the favour of the shoppers. How do you protect yourself as a seller? This video explores the problems.

These TambayTV videos are produced in association with, we’ve made these “how to” videos with specific relation to eBay selling. This is our third video and over the next 7 weeks we’ll be looking at other aspects of eBay trading. Find out more here. Stay tuned.

  • 2 years ago

    The chances of correctly addressed mail going missing are around 1 in 1000, yet I sell about 150 items a month and average around 5 claims of non-arrival per month. Tracking is not an option for items worth under £5. What I do get is the entirely worthless free Royal Mail *Certificate of Posting* and always respond to a claim by presenting a copy of it, which does nothing to rectify my loss, but does expose the buyer as a cheat. I then refund, and then enclose evidence of posting and report the buyer to Ebay (who never comment on what their findings are) and advise them to monitor the amount of claims that buyer has made, as, to (semi)quote Oscar Wilde *To loose one letter may be considered unfortunate, to loose two may be considered careless*…..if enough sellers supplied evidence of posting, and reported buyers who maintain they never received their items, then the pattern of fraud will become impossible for Ebay to ignore, although they will continue to do their best.
    This week a buyer really took the cake, claiming 58 days after purchase, and with just 48 hours left before his claim time ran out, that he had not received his item. It was so obvious that he hoped my receipts would not be held for that long that the circumstantial evidence suggests fraud. I had to refund him anyway, or have Ebay do so on my behalf, but reported him in the vain hope that Ebay might be able to smell a rat, but doubt that they will…..

  • Tom
    2 years ago

    Royal mail delivery confirmation helps with this. I now love seeing an INR being opened because 99.9% of the time we have delivery confirmation.

    We are even getting delivery confirmation now on large letters and letters.

    • 2 years ago

      How do you get delivery confirmation on large letters?

      I use the Click & Drop service and only get it on parcels.

      The downside is Royal Mail show: Latest update: Delivered to your address or a neighbour.

      If you the buyer does not see the card, who was the “neighbour”?

  • 2 years ago

    Had a classic at the w.end.

    Buyer requested A refund
    Comments This item hasn’t arrived in time for my friends hot tub party

  • SAM
    2 years ago

    This is has always been the biggest bug bear of mine with eBay. RMG have done their part with 2d barcodes, as long as we get the correct Postal information it is automated and I have confidence in RMG. Last week we had one, straight away we could tell so what we did was contact another of the sellers who had left Feedback straight after the sale. YES they had the same message as us.
    So basically there is a long paper trail here of this scammer sending out emails trying to get refunds.
    We photo every single package we send, were able to contact RMG VIA Twitter msgs with a image of the package, within 24 hours they were back , confirming this was delivered next day. This was a 2d barcode Large letter.
    We contacted eBay in Ireland, who simply were not interested in looking at this account, it is appalling their attitude to this issue. They are facilitating in mail theft. All they had to do was LOOK at this account and they could see what was going on.

    It is also leading to their own demise, many items we are adding the tracking into because of the high risk of the platform, and we send so much more into FBA now and “mail theft on eBay” was one of the reasons.
    Prosecutions are what need to be brought into play now, and the Police need to be more involved and if also . RMG need to start this, and if eBay are helping the scammers bring prosecutions against them.

    The issue is not RMG or the sellers on eBay. This issue is eBay themselves, no post address checker, and they are the main cause of Mail theft.

    Contact the other sellers, photograph the packages, get RMG involved or the courier with the evidence.

    • Tom
      2 years ago

      Why didn’t you upload the QR code to the INR case if it is show’s it as delivered?

    • SAM
      2 years ago

      They would have had to open a case first, which may well come yet. They were just firing out emails trying to slip under the radar as normal.
      We have been at this 10 year and sell on multiple markets. 99% of issues over the years have been eBay it a thief’s shopping emporium.

    • Tom
      2 years ago

      I always just ask them to open an INR as my first response. Most of them go away then too.

      If all sellers used the report buyer feature I am sure it would really help.

      Unfortunately like you said most buyers know about INR and will not open them so they don’t bring attention to themselves, they know that Ebay can not monitor all messages.

    • Alan Paterson
      2 years ago

      @ SAM -Ebay will look at it – they have a dedicated department for these sort of things. However, they are not allowed to tell you what they are looking at or how they will investigate due to data protection. Many sellers think nothing is being done because of the lack of information ebay give when the behaviour is reported – it certainly SOUNDS like they are not doing anything but they are now very proactive.

  • northumbrian
    2 years ago

    nothing will convince us the report buyer button is anything other than a placebo,
    the only thing that stops buyer fraud is common sense and good practice
    if your waiting for ebay to help you will go bankrupt

    • Alan Paterson
      2 years ago

      @ northumbrian – perhaps this will convince you…….

      Back in 2014 the ebay Trust and Safety Team Terminated / Suspended 3.5 million accounts. OK, so this was worldwide and inclusdes buyers and sellers but it shows that things ARE done. They are very proactive – especially in the last couple of years.

      If ebay are not pro active with suspending accounts for wrong doing there would not be the hundreds of thousands of posts online on how to try and get reinstated. There is even a website dedicated to it and instructional booklets are available on the dark web on how to get back on if you have ever been kicked off. There would not be a demand for such information if ebay had not kicked the buyer / seller off in the first place.

      ebay need to “play down” what they are doing due to data protection. sometimes it seems as if nothing is being done. Not the case.

    • Northumbrian
      2 years ago

      Hiding behind data protection laws is not convincing,
      When we can all quote or easily find specific instances of sellers being suspended , yet in 20 years of eBay selling ,None of the many buyers who have personally done us over ,have been suspended

    • northumbrian
      2 years ago

      quoting 3.5 million accounts being suspended means little without hard facts ,how many were buyers ? how many were dormant ?
      how many in error,
      quoting booklets and instructions on how to be reinstated as evidence that buyers are suspended,is blind religious style justification.
      buyers can easily re register or use other ids they dont need the dark web

      2 years ago

      @ northumbrian – with respect you wont know what ebay do with buyers that you have reported. they may have had their buyer privileges removed for a short while – you dont know what action has been taken. and ebay wouldn’t be able to tell you.

      regarding getting reinstated once you have been kicked off – is IS very difficult – and rightly so. You can’t simply restart another account – eBay has ways of tracking that.

    • northumbrian
      2 years ago

      alan with equal respect if we dont know, you certainly cant know either,
      we note your military background
      we wonder is this the reason why you blindly maintain ebay have no failings,
      is that your trained and conditioned to carry out instructions and commands without questioning why

  • Northumbrian
    2 years ago

    Supposition ,here say ,and myth dont constitute action or evidence of ebay being proactive,
    You see many threads and comments from sellers being restricted or suspended,!!!!
    Where are the equivalent buyer complaints of sanctions or suspension .

  • 2 years ago

    We don’t get a lot of this thank goodness but when we do we think of it as shoplifting … if we had a shop on the high street there are always those customers that will pocket items or walk out with them this is just another form of it. My only consolation is going in and banning them from purchasing from us again.

  • Andy R
    2 years ago

    One aspect not mentioned in the video is how much the fraud level varies depending on what sector you are selling in.

    If you are finding an unacceptable level of INR claims, try to find a different area to sell in.

    From talking to other sellers, it’s clear, for example, that the clothing and tech areas have a higher incidence of INR claims than most.

    The other thing to remember is that if ever you are in the situation where Ebay sides with the buyer and where you have absolute proof of delivery, you can go to the police and report internet fraud, or even initiate a small claims action.

    It’s now much harder on Ebay to spot repeat claimants, due Ebay to concealing buyer history and identities in feedback.

    The suspicion is Ebay is weak on fraud because it’s not their problem – the seller picks up the tab and the hassle.

    If you speak to Royal Mail, they will always say that compensation claims for Ebay transactions are suspicious. Which is why you have to declare specifically on the Royal Mail claim form if it is for an Ebay item. Note there is no other company singled out – not Amazon or anyone else – only Ebay.

    Go figure.

  • Alan Paterson
    2 years ago

    @ Andy R – you make a good point although I have never had an experience of ebay siding with the buyer when i have tracking information.

    There seems to be FAR more INR cases on my ebay than on my Amazon. Fortunately our items are relatively cheap so its not the end of the world for us to send a replacement or refund. Unfortunately that does not apply to everyone.

    I noticed in particular that Royal Mail are very suspicious of ebay transactions above any other. My assumption is this was from the “bad old days” of ebay as this has been on the Royal Mail claims form as far back as 2002. Things have improved since then.

    I also am getting regular “bogus” returns recently where the buyer uses an ebay tracked returns label but sends back an empty box or worthless random item. We never get this on Amazon. Does anyone else experience bogus returns when the buyer uses a label to make it look as if the item has been returned to the seller and sends an empty box?

    Disturbingly there are web sites and ebooks out there instructing buyers how to do this and other scams.

    We just claim it as “shrinkage” – same as Jonathan above referring to it as a type of shoplifting. Once you deduct it as a business “expense” its not as painful.

  • northumbrian
    2 years ago

    it really is quite simple
    do not expect any help from ebay ,
    if you leave your door open your likely to be burgled

  • jim
    2 years ago

    Imagine as a high street shop you simply watched shoplifters walk out of the shop with your goods and when challenged they simply shrugged and said I have not had it. Welcome to having a shop on ebay .Not sure how much longer I can continue refunding about the same each week as I pay myself in wage .
    Ebay need to look at this with the utmost urgency if they had to process the refunds from their profits they would soon act

      2 years ago

      welcome to Mail Order Jim! these problems are not exclusive to eBay. We also get chargebacks from credit cards used on our web site and other platforms.

      And it is impacting ebay profits too – to think otherwise is very naive.

      I detest when sellers make out this is an eBay problem when what are they are describing is simply one of the risks/expenses of selling online.

    • james
      2 years ago

      get your head out the sand Alan, it’s 10x to 100x times worse on ebay than everywhere else, there’s a million sellers will testify to that, and then you, the eternal ebay apologist on the other side declaring its all rainbows and sunshine.

      – to quote yourself “There seems to be FAR more INR cases on my ebay than on my Amazon”, but when anyone else notices the same, they’re in the wrong? bravo alan, bravo.

      takes a very special kind of thinking to be that blind, and to be that hypocritical.

    • 2 years ago


      I think it depends on what you mean by an “Ebay problem”. having run a large mail order company, pre internet, you learn to deal with fraud issues and spot them before they take your goods.

      Much the same as preventing shop lifters in shops.

      The problem with Ebay is that they are in control of the data, they know if people have tried it on before, are serial offenders, much the same as I used to, but probably a lot easier. Seller do not have this information, unless they have tried it on with you before.

      Paypal give you the confidence that you are posting to a Verified address even though half the address can be missing. Not very helpful.

      So yes it can be seen as a Ebay / Paypal problem.

      Whilst I agree with you that fraud / chargebacks is a problem for both Ebay & Paypal. Buyers claiming that they have not received the goods is not such a big problem, the loser is the seller and sellers tend to put up with it or lose out on future sales revenue, whilst the buyer is free to continue getting good s for nothing.

      Having said that, I do believe that Ebay would not encourage buyers to behave in this way as it can have a long term detrimental effect on their business.

      These are the real problems that Rob should be trying to address for sellers to gain confidence in the platform and get rid of the nickname “Thief-Bay”.

    • Alan Paterson
      2 years ago

      @ James – tone it down a bit please. i am merely expressing my opinion (which is based on fact and real stats that I will quote below). If you didnt understand I will clarify. This problem is not exclusive to ebay. Thats not hypocritical – thats just a fact. I dont need my own words quoted back to me – i know what i said. Do you know what ” hypocritical ” means?

      Yes, there are far less on Amazon but they still happen on Amazon – they also happen on credit cards and on paypal. I thought my post was clear – i was stating that it was not exclusive to ebay. Some folk on this thread are writing as if it is ONLY ebay. Obviously thats not the case. Yes, ebay may have a higher percentage than other platforms but that doesnt make the other platforms zero. I was getting chargebacks long before I started on ebay.

      Also, when i have had tracking information I have never lost the money on ebay. Without exception ebay have ruled in my favour.

      You said “get your head out the sand Alan, it’s 10x to 100x times worse on ebay”

      well, that is too general a statistic for me to take serious. which is it ? 10 times or 100 times. Is my head in the sand? If you are going to quote stats then at least make an attempt at accuracy and not suddenly multiply by a factor of ten – it undermines your point (which i was trying to take seriously).

      It would be unfair to use my business but lets use a more general example.

      REAL TIME EXAMPLE: Here are real stats based on a £82,400 per month business I am currently assisting with …………..

      1. EBAY INR = £722 with 100% funds retrieved

      2. PAYPAL cases = £512 with 92% funds retrieved

      3. AMAZON Items not received £212 refunds given 0% funds retrieved (they simply refund if a buyer claims non receipt on Amazon)

      4. CREDIT CARD chargebacks £92 0% funds retrieved

      As you can see ebay is the highest but less than the others combined. Also he was able to retrieve 100% of the funds with ebay compared to 0% with the conventional chargebacks.

      “Head in the sand” implies that I am not aware of whats happening around me or whats happening in the businesses I am involved with. Really?

      As any funds lost due to claims are tax deductible they come off the top line for income tax and VAT purposes. That leaves an incredible small percentage that IS ADDED to the cost price of the item so as not to effect the net profits of the business.

      Are INRs a problem? I am not going to say they are not. However, it is only a BIG problem if not handled correctly and not factored into costs and again, it is not exclusive to ebay and certainly not “10x to 100x” worse.

  • Romano
    2 years ago

    You can block buyers from bidding on or purchasing your items by specifying buyer requirements. You can block buyers who:

    Don’t have a PayPal account

    Have unpaid items recorded on their account

    Have a primary delivery address in countries you don’t post to

    Have breached eBay policies

    Have a Feedback score lower than the number you specify

    Are currently winning or have bought 1-100 of your items in the last 10 days (you can specify the number)

    More info on:

    • james
      2 years ago

      you can hypothetically block buyers, in practicality, lets see it actually working.

      half that list is redundant. you can block people in countries you dont ship to.
      well you dont ship there, really no need to block them, is there?
      – except people who have an overseas address, and stay here parts of the year,
      or moved here after setting up an ebay account in another country.
      you’ll block their valid purchase to a UK address because their main address is

      unpaid items, more than x in the last month. unless you set it to one and block every genuine mistake along with the non-payers, that’s also a redundant option.
      – doubly redundant if you sell buy it nows rather than auctions.

      block people who dont have paypal – why would you do that if you accept other payment methods? ebay already try real hard to force paypal so they get yet another cut of your cake. if you dont accept other payment methods, then there’s no need to block ’em.

      have breached ebay policies – you’re not even allowed to know anything about this. know what this button does? nothing. if customers breach ebay policies, ebay barely cares, they’ll take your money and throw it at the customer for breaching ebay policies and thank them for it. think your extra block tickbox shall change that? it wont.
      if they were severe breaches they should be banned from site, not filtered at a seller level.

      ban people with less than x feedback? extremely rare occasions when one might want to prevent new buyers (probably if you’re a new seller), not for 99% of business sellers.

      and ban your best customers for buying too many of your items? best option of all. should be mandatory for all sellers.

      where’s the button for “prevent order from customers who have opened X number (or X percentage) of buyer protection cases against previous orders?” now that would be useful. so of course it doesnt exist.

  • 2 years ago

    Thankfully we have not had a lot of buyer fraud or “lost” mail. This has also reduced since we started to use 2d bar codes with Royal Mail.

    Twice people have tried and once we told them the item was tracked and delivered they suddenly find the item in the garden.

    I have two claims outstanding, the one is simple, the item just does not appear on the Royal Mail tracking. The address was wrong and we may get the item returned.

    The second is getting interesting, it is on Amazon and the buyer claims not to have received the item. Royal Mail are showing “Delivered to your address or a neighbour.” Amazon are insisting that I show signed proof of delivery

    The buyer said they would check with the neighbour and get back to me but I have not had an update.

    I spoke to Royal Mail and opened a case, they said it would take up to 72 hours to respond.

    Royal Mail also told me that they would check the GPS and should be able to tell which address took the parcel in.

    I sent the buyer a message asking if she had found the parcel with a neighbour and if not the Royal Mail should be able to trace who took the parcel, but I have not had a response. I had hoped she may suddenly find it if she had had delivery.

    Amazon gave me 3 days to respond, I responded without the signature and they have given me another 3 days to provide a signature (which I can not).

    I will update once the Royal Mail respond.

  • eBayeBayeBay
    2 years ago

    Enough said….

    Consistent fraud ongoing for number of years. Still not suspended.

    Communication with buyer:

    • Alan Paterson
      2 years ago

      Although the conduct of this buyer is extremely frustrating to sellers (why would the buyer keep buying on ebay if almost every experience was negative) it doesn’t serve to prove any point regarding this thread. It just shows a possibly narcissistic buyer who is very difficult to please and is persistently and consistency leaving negative feedbacks.

      It doesnt show any evidence of fraud although I admit that buyers like this are extremely frustrating. Your message to them has kinda left yourself a bit open. You need to be real careful when accusing or even implying and using the word “fraud” directed towards a buyer.

      Also @ everyone above who thinks that ebay do nothing to help. Why would they invest in a Trust and Safety Team and throw staff at it. Putting the debate aside as to how effective this is – its definitely not “doing nothing”. They are trying. Ebay spend a huge amount of time and resources on at least attempting to keep ANY fraud to a minimum.

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