Buy Safely Online - Avoid this Scam

After years of buying online, someone I know recently encountered an eBay scammer.  This prompted me to write my blog post here about buying safely online.  Today I wanted to write about the details of this scam, so people can safely avoid it. 

Fortunately Anna* was not out of pocket any money as PayPal and eBay automatically refunded the purchase price.  Nonetheless it was an unpleasant experience for her.

Since this happened, eBay have already shut down many of these fraudulent accounts, but there are some new accounts still slipping through. Here is what to look out for:

  1. The eBay account was brand new.  It had been opened in the last month or two.  
  2. The account had 0 feedback.
  3. The postage was very cheap for worldwide shipping.  $20 for international shipping anywhere in the world.
  4. The price of the item was a bit too good to be true.
  5. The photos, appeared legitimate, and they used photos of an actual diamond necklace.  
  6. Some of these fraudulent accounts have a water mark across their picture.  The watermark is of their username, an odd randomly generated username like 'kitawleerrk7338-0'.  

Before making the purchase, Anna emailed the seller asking when they would ship the item.  They answered immediately saying they would ship 'Today'.  However, 'Today' was a Sunday when Post Offices are closed.

Anna went ahead and purchased the item via PayPal.

1. The next day came and went and the item was not sent.  On Tuesday she received this message: 

"A beautiful day, what is your phone number, the post office needs your phone, please mail to me, thank you."

She replied with her phone number as some postal services do require phone numbers of recipients.

2. This was followed by no contact for several days.

3. After a week she followed up asking for the tracking number.  No reply was received.

4. After 10 days she opened up an eBay case for 'item not received'.

5. On the final day of the 'item not received' case, the seller uploaded a tracking number from DHL.  This was where things got really unusual.

They sent her a tracking number from Hong Kong, even though the seller stated they were from Canada. 

6. She also received an email from DH-Gate, an online company that sells inexpensive items saying - "Regarding your order...the package is on the way..."

The scammer had signed her up for an account with DH-Gate, purchased a cheap inexpensive item to send, with a tracking number from Hong Kong.

At this point Anna rang eBay and expressed her concerns.  Luckily, the account had already been flagged as fraudulent and eBay refunded her immediately.  

7.  The package did eventually arrive, which was a plastic pendant.

Since this happened, I have seen many of these fraudulent accounts be shut down by eBay, but there are still a couple popping up.

With PayPal protection the chances of losing money is practically zero.  Regardless, encountering a scam is still a stressful experience.

Here are my tips to buying safely online:

  1. Do not buy from 0 feedback buyers, and if possible, avoid buying from buyers with under 10 feedback.
  2. Do not buy from a new eBay account that has just been opened in the last month or two. 
  3. If the price of the item is too good to be true, it probably is.
  4. Check for selling feedback.  If it is a high end item, check to see they have had positive feedback of similarly priced high end items.
  5. Ask questions, communicate with the seller, and try to get a feel from them.  Listen to your gut.
  6. Always make sure PayPal is an option to pay. 

Buying online is still the best place to save significant amounts of money on high quality items.  Many bargains can be found.  In addition, PayPal are extremely good in protecting buyers from fraud. 

The safest place to purchase pre-loved jewellery is from a trusted and established seller with a history of selling high end items.  Look for online reviews, positive feedback and a credible online presence.

As with anything, knowledge and research is also your best protection.  I hope posting this article helps create a safer online environment.  Rest assured as well, that fraudulent accounts are always being reported.

Stay safe.

Catherine Trenton Jewellery

"We are an established boutique organisation specialising in pre-loved diamond designer jewellery from Tiffany & Co. and other luxury brands.  As experts in this niche trade we work hard to provide a safe and simple environment for buying and selling pre-loved fine diamond jewellery online.

Whether you are buying or selling a piece of fine diamond designer jewellery, we aim to provide you with the best outcome possible.

You can visit our store here."

Blog Comments:

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  • CTJ on

    Hi Christina,

    Thank you for your comment. I appreciate it is difficult for people brand new to eBay and do understand that everyone needs to start somewhere.

    I do say to ask questions and get a feel for the seller, and I am sorry if it came across as avoid all 0 feedback at all costs. There will of course be genuine 0 feedback sellers who are not scammers.

    However I think to be honest, if you have 0 feedback and are trying to sell a high value item like a Tiffany & Co diamond necklace, it will raise red flags with most people. There are a couple things people can do. Spend time building up your feedback to gain some credibility. If you are a genuine seller with one account you won’t be in a rush and can invest time in building up your account.


  • Christina on

    I’ve been a buyer on eBay for some time and just recently started selling items.
    I know your article means well, but to say do not buy from sellers with 0 feedback just sort of makes it impossible for me to even get started.
    I’m a legitimate seller, all my items are 100% authentic but 1. eBay makes it nearly impossible to sell Tiffany and Co. items with out at least 25 positive feedback and now this article is telling people not to buy from people who don’t have positive feedback too.
    How are people like me who are trying to sell authentic merchandise supposed to be to even get a start?
    Not everyone just starting to sell is trying to defraud everyone.
    Is it possible you could maybe say check into the buyer feedback?, ask questions of the seller? Try to get a feeling about the seller before you just skip over them without even giving them a chance?
    This isn’t meant as angry criticism, it’s just concerns I have that maybe it could have been worded a little differently in order to give us new, legitimate sellers a chance to prove ourselves trustworthy.

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