Why does Ebay have so many 'links' for sale
March 16, 2004 3:23 AM   Subscribe

ebay is littered with auctions to buy a 'link to a site where you can get a phone for £20'. Why...? [MI]

The deal is basically this - you go to a site which sells cds of freeware. You buy a cd and you get put in a queue to get a phone. Each person you tempt in to go through the same process gets you higher up the list.

I have two questions:
1) this sounds like a variation on your typical pyramid scheme to me. Why hasn't ebay banned all links sellers?
2) Why the hel do people keep falling for it and buying the links? The most basic google search gave me the url of the originating site.
posted by twine42 to Shopping (9 answers total)
 
Why do people keep falling for it? As David Hannum once said: There's a sucker born every minute. A lot of people love getting deals and their love of the pursuit of a deal overrides common sense.

I'm suprised that eBay hasn't banned these as well because as far as I know they're actually illegal in the U.S.
posted by substrate at 6:06 AM on March 16, 2004


1. eBay has a problem keeping up with the fraudsters. eBay is simply outnumbered.

2. People are stupid, both the sellers and the buyers. Even if you don't buy the link, the phone is hardly worth £20. It's crap.

Summary: this is a scam. In eBay lingo, that might be: "AVOID!!!!!! F- F- F- F- F- SELLER LIES! GOODS NOT AS PROMISED!!!!"
posted by Mo Nickels at 6:12 AM on March 16, 2004


There was a mention about pyramid schemes on eBay in Need to Know a couple of weeks ago http://www.ntk.net/2004/02/06/, and an update more recently too.

There's a few good links in there if you want further information.
posted by kev23f at 6:35 AM on March 16, 2004


if you are logged in and recognised as a reliable user, shouldn't there be a simple 'this auction is fraudulent' button on the auction?
posted by twine42 at 6:48 AM on March 16, 2004


Rob Cockerham of cockeyed.com fame did a great investigative report on these scams last year.
posted by majick at 6:55 AM on March 16, 2004


shouldn't there be a simple 'this auction is fraudulent' button on the auction?

Unfortunately, that would also allow bigger sellers to keep new players out of their market.
posted by yerfatma at 9:36 AM on March 16, 2004


Like MeFi, eBay relies on self-policing by its members. If sellers don't get reported to admin, nothing happens to their auctions.
posted by thomas j wise at 12:00 PM on March 16, 2004


Like MeFi, eBay relies on self-policing by its members. If sellers don't get reported to admin, nothing happens to their auctions.

Even when things are widely reported, Ebay often does nothing. There was a huge scam in the black metal community a few years back (fraudulent seller buys a reputable, high-feedback Ebay account, offers thousands of rare CDs and LPs starting at a penny, then cuts and runs. Hundreds of people lost hundreds of dollars each.)

'Round about a year later, the same guy was back on Ebay under a different account name, selling the same stuff for the same starting prices with the same descriptions. It was all over the black metal message boards. Lots of people saw it, and probably twenty or thirty people reported it to Ebay, but Ebay took no action. In the end, the same scam was successfully pulled twice, because Ebay doesn't care to investigate fraud. It would not surprise me if I see the same auctions again this year.

In short, Ebay buyer beware. Ebay is a seller's market, in more ways than one, and Ebay is not willing to cut into its own profits by ending fraudulent auctions.
posted by vorfeed at 2:15 PM on March 16, 2004


The thing vorfeed says happened to me - EXACTLY, except I had the dubious distinction of buying a $600 camera that didn't exist.

Thank god for the insurance on my VISA.
posted by Quartermass at 3:04 PM on March 16, 2004


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