Ing + McKee

How To Avoid eBay Motors Scams

November 15, 2023

In the ever-growing world of online shopping, eBay has become a popular platform for buyers and sellers alike. With millions of products available at competitive prices, it’s no wonder that people turn to eBay for their shopping needs.

However, with any popular platform comes the potential for scams. As an insurance company, Ing & McKee wants to keep our clients informed and equipped to spot potential scams on eBay. In this blog, we will discuss some common scams that you should be aware of when shopping on this online marketplace.

The eBay Motors Scam

One of the most prevalent scams on eBay is the eBay Motors scam. This typically involves a seller listing a vehicle at an incredibly low price and requesting payment through a third-party service. However, once the buyer sends the money, they never receive the vehicle, and the seller disappears.

To avoid falling victim to this scam, always be cautious of deals that seem too good to be true. Additionally, eBay has safeguards in place for their Motors category, including escrow services that can help protect both parties in a transaction.

If you want to validate the sale of a car, here are some steps you can take:

  1. Verify Ownership: Ensure that the person selling the car is the legal owner. Request proof of ownership, such as the vehicle title or registration documents. Cross-check the seller’s information with the details on the documents.
  2. Vehicle History Report: Obtain a vehicle history report using the car’s vehicle identification number (VIN). Services like Carfax or AutoCheck can provide information about the car’s previous ownership, accident history, maintenance records, and more.
  3. Physical Inspection: Schedule a time to inspect the car in person. Check for any signs of damage, wear and tear, or hidden issues. If you’re not confident in assessing the vehicle’s condition, consider getting a professional mechanic to inspect it.
  4. Price Research: Research the market value of similar cars in your area to ensure that the asking price is reasonable. Consider the car’s age, mileage, condition, and other features.
  5. Seek Professional Advice: If you need clarification on any aspect of validating the sale, consider seeking advice from a trusted automotive professional, lawyer, insurance broker, or local motor vehicle agency.

It’s important to always be cautious when shopping on eBay and be aware of potential scams. Remember to thoroughly research the seller, read reviews, and use secure payment methods. By staying vigilant, you can protect yourself from falling victim to online shopping scams on eBay.  

Additional Tips:

  • Never give out personal information or login credentials to a seller.
  • Use secure payment methods, such as PayPal, and avoid wire transfers or direct bank transfers.
  • If a seller asks you to make a purchase outside of eBay’s platform, it is likely a scam.
  • Trust your instincts; if something feels off, leave the deal. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
  • If you encounter a scam on eBay, report it to the platform immediately and seek assistance from their customer support team. Remember, they are there to help protect buyers like you.

To determine if a contact from eBay is legitimate, keep the following in mind:

  1. Confidential information: eBay will never request sensitive data such as your password or credit card information.
  2. Links: Legitimate eBay communications may contain links for convenience, but none of these links will ask you to provide confidential information on the subsequent page.
  3. Attachments: eBay does not send unsolicited emails with attachments. If you receive an email with an attachment that you were not expecting, avoid opening it.
  4. Language: eBay will never use threatening or aggressive language in their communications.
  5. Message Copies: Important messages from eBay will always be sent as a copy to your eBay Messages inbox.

What is wrong with the transaction plan below?


When reading a letter like this, there are several warnings to take into consideration:

Suspicious Language: Be cautious of any unusual or suspicious language in the letter, such as poor grammar, spelling errors, or odd sentence construction. This can be an indication of a scam.

Urgency and Pressure: Watch out for any urgency or pressure to complete the transaction quickly. Scammers often create a sense of urgency to prevent you from thoroughly reviewing the details or seeking advice.

Payment Methods: Take note of the specified payment methods. In this case, the mention of “Interac e-Transfer” and limitations on using credit/debit cards or PayPal for amounts over C$200.00 should raise a red flag. Scammers commonly use non-traditional payment methods to avoid traceability.

Unusual Payment Process: Be wary of any payment process that deviates from standard practices. The mention of eBay acting as an intermediary, holding the payment until the buyer receives and accepts the item, can be a sign of a scam.

Suspicious Protection Claims: Claims of 100% protection and insurance in the transaction should be viewed with skepticism. Scammers often use false promises of protection to gain trust.

Lack of Official eBay Communication: Authentic eBay communications are usually sent through official channels within your eBay account or via secure messaging systems. Unsolicited letters or emails asking for personal information or payment should be treated with caution.

Research: Conduct thorough research on the seller, the vehicle, and the outlined transaction process. Search for reviews, check the seller’s reputation, and verify the authenticity of the information provided.

By being aware of these guidelines, you can better recognize and differentiate legitimate contacts from eBay from potentially fraudulent ones.

Additional Online Shopping Threats to Be Aware Of:

Beyond the specific scams we’ve mentioned, there are other potential fraudulent activities to be aware of when shopping online.

Phishing is a common tactic where scammers send emails or messages pretending to be from reputable companies to entice you to reveal personal information, like passwords and credit card numbers. 

Overpayment scams involve the scammer sending a check or money order that exceeds the cost of the item you’re selling. They then ask for the surplus to be sent back to them, often via untraceable means like gift cards or wire transfers, before the bank notifies you that their check is fake and bounces. 

Fake websites can look incredibly professional and mimic the actual site, but they’re designed to steal your information. Always check the URL before purchasing to ensure it’s a legitimate website.

To determine if a URL (website address) is safe, here are some steps you can take:

  1. Check for HTTPS: Look for “https://” at the beginning of the URL instead of just “http://”. The “s” in “https” stands for secure and indicates that the website has an SSL certificate, encrypting data transmitted between your browser and the website.
  2. Padlock Icon: Look for a padlock symbol in your browser’s address bar. This indicates that the website has a valid SSL certificate and provides a secure connection.
  3. Verify the Domain: Ensure that the domain name in the URL is spelled correctly and corresponds to the legitimate website you intend to visit. Be cautious of misspellings or slight variations that scammers may use to mimic trusted websites.
  4. Research the Website: Conduct a quick internet search to gather information about the website. Look for user reviews, ratings, or any reports of scams or fraudulent activity associated with the website.
  5. Be Wary of Suspicious URLs: Exercise caution when clicking on URLs that appear in unsolicited emails, messages, or pop-up ads. Avoid clicking on shortened URLs or unfamiliar links without verifying their legitimacy.
  6. Use Website Safety Tools: Online tools such as Google Safe Browsing or Norton Safe Web can help identify potentially harmful websites by scanning URLs and providing safety ratings.

For more detailed information and guidance on staying safe online, consider visiting the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Consumer Information page or enrolling in courses like Cybersecurity. 

As technology advances, so do the methods used by scammers to deceive and exploit unsuspecting online shoppers. It is important to stay informed and educated about potential scams to protect yourself while shopping on platforms like eBay. Always be cautious and skeptical, trust your instincts, and don’t hesitate to seek help.

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