At some point in our lives, we all have found ourselves looking for or selling gear on eBay. But, how much can you place your trust into this online marketplace when parting with your expensive equipment?
It may seem that it's hard to fall for a scam but sometimes you want to believe in the best of people and help others. I myself recently put a piece of photography equipment for sale on eBay, which was bought by someone outside of my listed postage area. Although their account said they are based in the States, they asked me if I can calculate shipping to Russia instead, and send it there because they have moved address. They also requested this to be done urgently because it was meant as a gift for someone. After spending far too much time reading about international deliveries and customs process in Russia, I decided it poses far too many risks for me as a seller and had to unfortunately cancel the transaction and apologize to the buyer. Whether this was a genuine request I'll never know.
However, Joanna Rose Hufton, a professional photographer from the UK, wasn't as fortunate and was caught up in a scam when trying to sell her camera on eBay. She sold it for £1,300 ($1,670) on the auction site, and later on after the sale the buyer asked Hufton to change the delivery address because it was meant as a gift for their daughter and they had forgotten to change the delivery address on their account. The buyer sent her the new address in a message. Hufton didn't think much of the request because she had done it before and transactions had gone through with no issues.
After the camera was successfully delivered to the buyer and Hufton had received proof that they had indeed received and signed for it, the buyer opened a case on PayPal and claimed that they hadn't received the item after all. The scammer didn't file any complaints via eBay but instead went straight to PayPal. To ensure a secure sale, PayPal terms and conditions state you should "ship the item to the shipping address listen on the PayPal Transaction Details page", which didn't happen in this case because the buyer requested the address change. This resulted in PayPal ruling the complaint in favor of the buyer, giving them all of their money back and and they also kept the item.
Although Hufton tried to appeal this, PayPal said there is nothing that they can do, even though she claims two members of PayPal staff told her that they are aware of this type of loophole. The photographer has also contacted ActionFraud and they are currently investigating the matter. A PayPal spokesperson responded that they "have looked into Ms Hufton's case and unfortunately it appears she has fallen victim to a scam" and "if a buyer asks you to send it to another address then you will not be eligible for reimbursement under PayPal's seller protection program".