Stamp Collectors Against Dodgy Sellers
March 23 , 2007:
If you see a questionable item on eBay and you want it investigated by the Stamps Community Watch group (SCW), follow these simple steps to maximize the chances of your report getting through to them.
Don't report items in the normal way through the Security Center, as those reports have less chance of reaching the individuals assigned to process SCW reports.
Instead, use the Report link at the bottom of the Selling of Stamps page.
The following link will also work: http://www.ebay.com/scw.
Offering stamps "AS IS" is permitted only in regard to condition, but it requires all defects to be completely described. Any other "AS IS" listing is a violation and should be reported.
Borrowing scans from other listings to offer non-existent stamps continues to be a major problem on eBay. It is safe to assume that if it looks too good to be true, it isn't true.
Image stealing sellers may have low feedback and you may also see evidence of shill bidding using low-feedback ID's. The stolen image is often found in a recently closed listing or sometimes even a current listing. Some scammers use direct links to other websites for their scans, making it obvious that the image has been stolen.
When reporting image theft auctions to eBay, best results are obtained by using the above links to the Stamps Community Watch committee, as it will get to the relevant people sooner that way.
Avoid calling it a stolen image because the eBay representative may assume that the problem is a VERO (copyright) problem that can be reported only by the original seller, rather than outright fraud reportable by anyone. The first word in any complaint should be "Fraud".
Report all the information that you have found that shows the images as stolen, such as:
If possible, inform the legitimate image owner of the problem, so that they can remove the scans from their website, report the auctions to eBay, etc. Some legitimate sellers have successfully outmaneuvered scammers by placing warning signs in place of the images on their websites.
In many cases, contacting a seller regarding a questionable item or error in his listing is the best first response. This gives the seller a chance to end the auction early, revise the description, append questions and responses to the listing, etc. The seller also has the chance of stating his side of the case to you. How a seller reacts gives you more information about the seller and also possibly the item, and influences whether you choose to bid or, going the other way, decide to put the seller on your "not to buy from" list.
Mistakes can be made by sellers. And sellers usually prefer to be given the opportunity of correcting mistakes before others start badmouthing them. There are exceptions, and many of these have found their way onto the SCADS website and into the Hall of Shame.
Reporting a questionable item to eBay through the SCW is always an option, regardless of whether you have contacted a seller. If you wish to understand more about the workings of the SCW/APS auction review process, visit the eBay/APS partnership article.