Scam Artists Pose as Sellers on eBay Making Bogus Second Chance Offers, Warns California Attorney General’s Office

The California Attorney General’s Office issued a consumer alert about a new scam on eBay whereby scammers pose as sellers offering bogus second chance offers.

A second chance offer on eBay enables sellers to offer non-winning bidders an opportunity to buy the item at a price equal to their last bid.

Sellers have up to 60 days to make these second chance offers to non-winning bidders and if the transaction is completed on the eBay platform, it is fully protected by the eBay Money Back Guarantee.

The idea of the feature is to allow sellers who may have multiples of the same item to sell their items faster by offering bidders to purchase the item at their last bid price.

In many ways, this is a win/win for both sides of a transaction as the seller gets to sell their stock faster and the non-winning bidder ends up with the item actually at a cost usually less than the winning bidder paid.

Unfortunately, scammers are using this feature to victimize bidders into accepting a second chance offer by luring them to complete the sale outside of eBay.

Here is how the scam works according to the California AG’s Office:

“Manipulating the eBay messaging system, the scam artist posing as the seller contacts bidders to announce the winning bid fell through and offers a second chance to buy the product by wiring the purchase price to the non-eBay email address provided.”

“The scam artist is counting on consumers being tricked into a direct sale and being lured by the positive feedback seen on eBay. However, the message is actually from a con artist who assumed the identity of the legitimate seller who already sold the item to the winning bidder.”

“The second chance bidder who falls for this scam is left empty handed, paying for a product that will never arrive.”

How to Avoid the eBay Second Chance Offer Scam

Stay on eBay: Buyers should always complete the transaction on eBay’s website. While it may sound enticing at times to accept an offer outside the eBay system as the seller will “discount” the price by eliminating the selling fees, eBay does not offer any protection for such sales and the buyer will be out of luck if the item does not arrive or is not as described.

Always Pay on eBay: Do not send a check, cash, wire transfer, or use a P2P money transfer app such as Venmo or Cash to pay for any items purchased on eBay. Most eBay transactions are now processed through the company’s in-house payments system. While in some categories other payment methods are still available, always follow the payment path on the eBay platform to make the payment.

Beware of Gift Card Scam: Never agree to complete the purchase using eBay Gift Cards purchased at a retail store and then send the buyer the information from the back of those cards. Those cards should only be used on the eBay site through the payment flow process. See this story how circumventing the eBay payments flow using eBay Gift Cards is usually a scam.

Ask for Help: When in doubt about a transaction or if the seller is asking to complete the sale outside of the platform, contact eBay Customer Support for help. The eBay Money Back Guarantee only applies to sales completed on the platform through the payment flow gateway eBay provides to make payments.

eBay Sellers Can Be Victims Too

Unfortunately, this is also another reminder for sellers to protect their selling account with Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) or as eBay calls it “2 Step Verification” to avoid the possibility of a scammer using a hijacked seller account to make these bogus second chance offers.

The reputation of a seller’s account or store can easily be tarnished quickly if a scammer can quietly use a hacked account to contact potential buyers.

eBay sellers can learn more here about how to set up 2 Step Verification to help protect their account from malicious activity.

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