The eBay shill bidding social engineering scam

Shill bidding occurs when the seller of an item on eBay bids on their own auction to inflate the price up artificially. In most instances (not all), the eBay seller will setup another eBay account to push up the price of item(s) being sold through their primary account. Friends or family may also be involved to bid on the auction to ensure items sell for a high price. This is a type of social engineering and has proved to be quite a popular scam in these hard economic times. A few friends felt they were victims of this tactic (especially private auctions) and after we all looked at the bidding history, the bidding behavior seemed consistent with possible shill bidding.

As you can tell it was difficult to prove, but nevertheless we sent our concerns to eBay (see below). Some research around the eBay forums and it appears this type of scam is on the increase – people are talking about it. eBay prohibits this type of selling scam, but it is very difficult to identify. This has become harder to spot since eBay introduced anonymous bidding, where only the seller can see the bidders’ names. It can be difficult to spot, however I suggest you click on the ‘bid history’ link to look at the complete history of the item(s) you are bidding on.

If you suspect you are victim of shill bidding, you should report it using the eBay form with the relevant user ID and item number. If the seller is found guilty of shill bidding, then eBay may suspend the sellers account or even may refer the case to the police.

Safe surfing folks!

This entry was posted in identity theft: identity fraud. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The eBay shill bidding social engineering scam

  1. Ulf Wolf says:

    When you bear in mind that non-payment/delivery of goods sold or bought—whether from online auctions or not—is the most common cybercrime as reported to the IC3 in 2010, and by all accounts occurs about 25,000 times each month, it is not surprising then that you can easily be scammed.

    However, you can protect yourself.

    A very good friend of mine was seriously scammed late last year and has since done extensive research into how you defend yourself against scammers and fraudsters. She reports that she found the solution.

    These days she INSISTS on using a legitimate online escrow service for transactions of value. It’s amazing, she tells me, how fast the scammers scramble for the hills when you refuse to listen to reasons why you shouldn’t use this service (bona fide) but instead use another (fraudulent). It’s like a litmus test, she says, it really exposes the scammers.

    Her new motto is: When in doubt–escrow. She swears by it.

    But, how do you tell the legitimate escrow site from the fraudulent?

    First of all, the legitimate site is always secure, and therefore will display “https” (for secure http) on your browser’s URL line. If the site does not, abandon it. Also, the legitimate site will post a physical address and a working phone number, allowing you to talk directly to the staff.

    The legitimate site will always display their licenses and accreditations, which you can then verify with the applicable state(s), and they can and will, on request, give you names and contacts of satisfied customers, whom you can then call to verify legitimacy.

  2. Rusty says:

    Shill bidding does after all increase Ebay profits – hence the reason they do little to nothing about it. They also permit “Private Listing”, which is only supposed to be sued if bidding on it could be embarrassing, but it is used all the time to cover shill bidding.

  3. Japes Macfarland says:

    When I first moved to OZ in 2001, the ability to have a reserve price on your auction was available; just like it is everywhere else in the world. Then they took this option away (except for cars I think) Doing this actually encouraged shill bidding. (It reminds me of the tax department/system, and how it provokes people to be “unethical”. Anyway, I wish they’d offer reserve bidding again.

  4. Philip Cohen says:

    And the ugly reality for consumers dealing with the clunky, unscrupulous eBay/PayPal complex …
    “Shill Bidding Fraud on eBay: Case Study #5” … (I’ve checked this link folks! Julian)

Leave a Reply to Julian Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *