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Promoting common varieties as rare to scam people

BarberianBarberian Posts: 3,045 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited December 9, 2022 10:59AM in U.S. Coin Forum

I see sellers hyping common varieties as extremely rare and then asking a price that is way beyond what the variety is actually worth in a given grade. For example, the very common 1840-O WB10 is often billed as a "baseball die crack" reverse in an effort to confuse buyers into thinking it's one of the scarcer "true" baseball die crack reverse varieties (40-O WB9 and 41-O WB2) that sell for a substantial premium. Usually, the seller's asking price is no more than a few hundred dollars over fair market value. Admittedly, there are some spectacular late die state WB10s out there.

Now I've stumbled across this auction where the seller is asking $6500 for a SLH variety that is an AU-details cleaned R3 (200-500 thought to exist) and worth only a few hundred dollars. The variety is a very interesting WB6 "Quadrupled 2nd 8", but it isn't "super rare" by SLH standards. And just because only four have been attributed by PCGS doesn't mean they are "super rare." It means that most SLH collectors haven't paid for variety attributions, particularly for common varieties.

https://ebay.com/itm/314265043205

I realize buyers should be aware of what they're buying, but this is a scam, IMO. I've already offered the seller $200 and $201 for this coin along with an explanation for my offers. I've also sent them a photo of Bill Bugert's diagnoses and rarity estimates for this variety. So far, they haven't shown any interest in setting a more realistic price for this coin. I'm considering notifying eBay directly about this shady seller behavior, but I doubt they'll do anything about it. Should eBay allow such misleading sales?

Below is Bugert's diagnosis for the 1858-O WB6:

3 rim nicks away from Good

Comments

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    coinbufcoinbuf Posts: 10,768 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I think that notifying ebay is the correct thing to do, however, I too suspect that ebay will not take action unless others complain about this as well.

    My Lincoln Registry
    My Collection of Old Holders

    Never a slave to one plastic brand will I ever be.
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    vplite99vplite99 Posts: 1,182 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Great observation, but I suspect eBay will do nothing. Some sellers just price their coins irrationally

    Vplite99
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    tincuptincup Posts: 4,778 ✭✭✭✭✭

    At some point.... buyers have to take some responsibility for their own actions.

    Not sure if what the seller is doing is illegal... or not permissible by ebay standards. If he values his coin at that level.... it is a matter of opinion? No matter what a buyer is purchasing.... coins, cars, stamps... whatever.... Caveat emptor!! It's always been that way,... and still is.

    Yes, you can let ebay know.....

    ----- kj
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    rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The listing has been terminated, no explanation. Good work. Cheers, RickO

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    TomBTomB Posts: 20,731 ✭✭✭✭✭

    And here I thought you were going to write about floating roof Memorial cents! ;)

    Thomas Bush Numismatics & Numismatic Photography

    In honor of the memory of Cpl. Michael E. Thompson

    image
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    MasonGMasonG Posts: 6,268 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I've had people contact me to tell me my $250 coin is not worth that much (it was) and offer me $20. Seems like kind of a scam to me. What should eBay do about them?

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    PerryHallPerryHall Posts: 45,434 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MasonG said:
    I've had people contact me to tell me my $250 coin is not worth that much (it was) and offer me $20. Seems like kind of a scam to me. What should eBay do about them?

    eBay won't do anything nor should they. Just block them and move on.

    Worry is the interest you pay on a debt you may not owe.

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    davewesendavewesen Posts: 5,853 ✭✭✭✭✭

    another ? scam ? I frequently see on eBay is raw 1981-S proof type 2 SBAs. I am not sure if sellers do not know or if they feel buyers will not know.

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    BUFFNIXXBUFFNIXX Posts: 2,701 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 9, 2022 2:26PM

    It seems like the owner of this thread is actually interested in the piece and has offered the seller 200 and 201 dollars
    for it. Really. The owner of the piece gets to establish the asking price up of 2500 bucks if not slabbed by pcgs, ngc, or anacs, oh and also icg. And since it is slabbed by pcgs he is within his rights offering at this asking price. Its up to any potential
    buyer to determine whether or not they want it at that price. Me thinks the owner of this thread is the one trying to
    pull a scam. There are some bidders out there who will cry and when you do not accept their lowball offer.
    That is probably what is happening here. Remember he who has the gold makes the rules.

    Collector of Buffalo Nickels and other 20th century United States Coinage
    a.k.a "The BUFFINATOR"
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    BUFFNIXXBUFFNIXX Posts: 2,701 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @tincup said:
    At some point.... buyers have to take some responsibility for their own actions.

    Not sure if what the seller is doing is illegal... or not permissible by ebay standards. If he values his coin at that level.... it is a matter of opinion? No matter what a buyer is purchasing.... coins, cars, stamps... whatever.... Caveat emptor!! It's always been that way,... and still is.

    Yes, you can let ebay know.....

    I heartly agree with this poster.

    Collector of Buffalo Nickels and other 20th century United States Coinage
    a.k.a "The BUFFINATOR"
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    MasonGMasonG Posts: 6,268 ✭✭✭✭✭

    A search for "rare" in the "Coins and Paper Money" category turns up over 150,000 listings. Almost certainly, most are not actually rare. Should they be reported to eBay for removal?

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    BarberianBarberian Posts: 3,045 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MasonG said:
    I've had people contact me to tell me my $250 coin is not worth that much (it was) and offer me $20. Seems like kind of a scam to me. What should eBay do about them?

    Ignore them. I did my homework before contacting the seller and sent the seller the diagnosis page from Bugert (2013). The seller offers other coins at reasonable prices, so I figured this was just a lack of understanding of what PCGS census stats represent for SLH varieties.

    Collectors rarely ask PCGS to attribute SLHs so that Coin Facts variety censuses are very incomplete. One needs Bugert's die marriage series to get information on rarity.

    As a selfish aside, the Coin Facts variety census is so depauperate of examples that several of the low and midgrade SLHs I had attributed are now the featured plate coins for these varieties, including an 1874-CC WB1 generously graded as G6. :p:D Could that be the lowest graded SLH variety featured in PCGS Coin Facts?

    https://www.pcgs.com/coinfacts/coin/1874-cc-50c-wb-1-arrows/572221

    3 rim nicks away from Good
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    MasonGMasonG Posts: 6,268 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Barberian said:
    I did my homework before contacting the seller and sent the seller the diagnosis page from Bugert (2013). The seller offers other coins at reasonable prices, so I figured this was just a lack of understanding of what PCGS census stats represent for SLH varieties.

    You could have just ignored him, you know.

  • Options
    BarberianBarberian Posts: 3,045 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @BUFFNIXX said:
    It seems like the owner of this thread is actually interested in the piece and has offered the seller 200 and 201 dollars
    for it. Really. The owner of the piece gets to establish the asking price up of 2500 bucks if not slabbed by pcgs, ngc, or anacs, oh and also icg. And since it is slabbed by pcgs he is within his rights offering at this asking price. Its up to any potential
    buyer to determine whether or not they want it at that price. Me thinks the owner of this thread is the one trying to
    pull a scam. There are some bidders out there who will cry and when you do not accept their lowball offer.
    That is probably what is happening here. Remember he who has the gold makes the rules.

    Nice try, BUFFNIXX. Your criticism is well received, though, and I should have offered them $2, but the low bids were to get their attention and leave a message as to their true rarity. I'm really not interested in the coin and have never purchased a TPG details coin, and given the circumstances, raising my offer by one dollar is hardly a serious bid at all. My offers were swiftly refused. Therefore, I PM'ed the seller and sent them diagnoses and rarity estimates from Bugert (2013). Apparently, they pulled the auction.

    However, in light of your doubts and to protect my good name, I sent them another PM to clarify.

    They told me in another PM that they used NGC census records that showed only one coin attributed as WB6, and they thanked me for the information. I replied with the truth about these census numbers and linked them to Bill Bugert's diagnoses.

    3 rim nicks away from Good
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    BarberianBarberian Posts: 3,045 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 9, 2022 4:14PM

    @MasonG said:

    @Barberian said:
    I did my homework before contacting the seller and sent the seller the diagnosis page from Bugert (2013). The seller offers other coins at reasonable prices, so I figured this was just a lack of understanding of what PCGS census stats represent for SLH varieties.

    You could have just ignored him, you know.

    >

    Who? Buffnixx? He questioned my honor. He also raised a good point. I responded in a thorough and appropriate manner to eliminate any confusion, IMO.

    The seller? The seller has thanked me as well.

    3 rim nicks away from Good
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    MasonGMasonG Posts: 6,268 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 9, 2022 5:04PM

    @Barberian said:
    The seller? The seller has thanked me as well.

    For saying in this thread that he was trying to scam people? I suppose anything is possible.

    @Barberian said:
    I realize buyers should be aware of what they're buying, but this is a scam, IMO.

  • Options
    jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,935 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 9, 2022 5:15PM

    @MasonG said:

    @Barberian said:
    The seller? The seller has thanked me as well.

    For saying in this thread that he was trying to scam people? I suppose anything is possible.

    @Barberian said:
    I realize buyers should be aware of what they're buying, but this is a scam, IMO.

    It is not a scam if someone correctly identified an item and prices it higher, even significantly higher, than guide price. Personally, I bristle at the use of that term. There is nothing remotely misleading or dishonest about it.

  • Options
    jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,935 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Barberian said:

    @BUFFNIXX said:
    It seems like the owner of this thread is actually interested in the piece and has offered the seller 200 and 201 dollars
    for it. Really. The owner of the piece gets to establish the asking price up of 2500 bucks if not slabbed by pcgs, ngc, or anacs, oh and also icg. And since it is slabbed by pcgs he is within his rights offering at this asking price. Its up to any potential
    buyer to determine whether or not they want it at that price. Me thinks the owner of this thread is the one trying to
    pull a scam. There are some bidders out there who will cry and when you do not accept their lowball offer.
    That is probably what is happening here. Remember he who has the gold makes the rules.

    Nice try, BUFFNIXX. Your criticism is well received, though, and I should have offered them $2, but the low bids were to get their attention and leave a message as to their true rarity. I'm really not interested in the coin and have never purchased a TPG details coin, and given the circumstances, raising my offer by one dollar is hardly a serious bid at all. My offers were swiftly refused. Therefore, I PM'ed the seller and sent them diagnoses and rarity estimates from Bugert (2013). Apparently, they pulled the auction.

    However, in light of your doubts and to protect my good name, I sent them another PM to clarify.

    They told me in another PM that they used NGC census records that showed only one coin attributed as WB6, and they thanked me for the information. I replied with the truth about these census numbers and linked them to Bill Bugert's diagnoses.

    You can just contact the seller without making low ball offers you know.

  • Options
    MasonGMasonG Posts: 6,268 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Barberian said:
    Apparently, they pulled the auction.

    No, eBay pulled the auction. If the seller did, it would still be visible.

    "Just to be clear, I'm NOT interested in purchasing the coin."

    From eBay's Abusive buyer policy...

    Unwelcome and malicious buying: We consider bidding on or buying an item when you have no intention of completing the transaction...

    https://www.ebay.com/help/buying-practices-policy/policies/abusive-buyer-policy?id=4374&st=3&pos=1&query=Abusive buyer policy&intent=malicious bidder&lucenceai=lucenceai&docId=HELP1318#section2

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    jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,935 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MasonG said:

    @Barberian said:
    Apparently, they pulled the auction.

    No, eBay pulled the auction. If the seller did, it would still be visible.

    "Just to be clear, I'm NOT interested in purchasing the coin."

    From eBay's Abusive buyer policy...

    Unwelcome and malicious buying: We consider bidding on or buying an item when you have no intention of completing the transaction...

    https://www.ebay.com/help/buying-practices-policy/policies/abusive-buyer-policy?id=4374&st=3&pos=1&query=Abusive buyer policy&intent=malicious bidder&lucenceai=lucenceai&docId=HELP1318#section2

    I'm not sure that making a low ball offer counts as either bidding or buying. It's just a nuisance.

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    MasonGMasonG Posts: 6,268 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @jmlanzaf said:
    I'm not sure that making a low ball offer counts as either bidding or buying. It's just a nuisance.

    When you say "Just to be clear, I'm NOT interested in purchasing the coin", that appears to meet the conditions of "We consider bidding on or buying an item when you have no intention of completing the transaction..."

  • Options
    jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,935 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MasonG said:

    @jmlanzaf said:
    I'm not sure that making a low ball offer counts as either bidding or buying. It's just a nuisance.

    When you say "Just to be clear, I'm NOT interested in purchasing the coin", that appears to meet the conditions of "We consider bidding on or buying an item when you have no intention of completing the transaction..."

    Except it was neither a bid nor a purchase...

  • Options
    MasonGMasonG Posts: 6,268 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @jmlanzaf said:

    @MasonG said:

    @jmlanzaf said:
    I'm not sure that making a low ball offer counts as either bidding or buying. It's just a nuisance.

    When you say "Just to be clear, I'm NOT interested in purchasing the coin", that appears to meet the conditions of "We consider bidding on or buying an item when you have no intention of completing the transaction..."

    Except it was neither a bid nor a purchase...

    Just going by what the OP said: "The low bids were to enable communicating with you..."

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    braddickbraddick Posts: 23,115 ✭✭✭✭✭

    eBay has the ability for sellers never even to be aware of lowball offers. eBay kills the proposal at a pre-determined amount the seller has placed; thus, the seller is not bothered by nonsense.

    peacockcoins

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    fathomfathom Posts: 1,513 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 9, 2022 11:21PM

    At the very least profiteering is considered unethical.

    In this case, the seller is at fault IMO for price gouging, analogous to a buyer of Morgan quoting only bullion bid.

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    yosclimberyosclimber Posts: 4,596 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 10, 2022 12:30AM

    I find it annoying when a seller overstates the rarity or misattributes a coin in hope of selling it for more.

    But this is not enough to qualify for a "scam" aka fraud.
    You have to show "intent to deceive" to prove that.
    Often they just don't know and are "hoping" they have something valuable.
    In half dimes, we see this a lot on the 1838 "small stars" and the 1848 large date.
    The seller might have a Red Book that shows the higher price,
    but there is not enough in the Red Book to attribute those varieties.
    Sometimes they do know, but it's usually hard to prove intent.

    If an ebay seller prices a coin crazy, that's not unusual; part of the usual ebay experience.

  • Options
    BarberianBarberian Posts: 3,045 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The seller was simply ignorant on this DMs rarity because they used the wrong reference for determining rarity. They took the NGC tallies for this DM as evidence that the coin was extremely rare. I explained to them that such data is in its infancy, isn't a reliable indicator of rarity, and that they should rely on rarity estimates in Bugert's die marriage references. PCGS has many listed DMs in Coin Facts that have never been attributed by them. My last submission yielded first attribution records by them for several DMs, including common (R3) DMs. Furthermore, many people will save TPG DM attribution for those DMs that are considered rare (>R5) and not bother with the many common DMs to save costs, thereby distorting the relative rarity across DMs.

    I explained this to them and provided links for them to Mr. Bugert's references. They thanked me for this information.

    3 rim nicks away from Good
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    BarberianBarberian Posts: 3,045 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 10, 2022 3:26AM

    @MasonG said:

    @Barberian said:
    The seller? The seller has thanked me as well.

    For saying in this thread that he was trying to scam people? I suppose anything is possible.

    @Barberian said:
    I realize buyers should be aware of what they're buying, but this is a scam, IMO.

    What I wrote here in this thread is not what I wrote to the seller. What I wrote here, as it turned out, was premature and my opinion was wrong, and I regret writing it now because the situation wasn't resolved between seller and me at that time. There was no intent to deceive by the seller. The seller posted an outrageous starting price (roughly 15-30 times more than what the coin is worth) because they used the wrong reference for rating a DMs rarity. I suggested a much better reference. Never in my PMs did I directly accuse them of scamming people. I had checked out their other BINs and auctions before PMing them.

    @MasonG said:

    @Barberian said:
    I did my homework before contacting the seller and sent the seller the diagnosis page from Bugert (2013). The seller offers other coins at reasonable prices, so I figured this was just a lack of understanding of what PCGS census stats represent for SLH varieties.

    You could have just ignored him, you know.

    Yes and no. Sorry, but I'm tired of seeing people getting ripped off on eBay, ETSY, and elsewhere. Beat up 1957-D Lincoln cents worth 3 cents being offered for $35,000. A markup of 1,100,000 times what the coin is actually worth is, ahem, a scam! People selling fakes everywhere, with sellers usually claiming they took the obvious fake coin to dealers who told them it was real. Yeah, right! $10 obvious fakes sold for $1000 or more. Call them whatever you want, I call them crooks and scammers. I confront these crooks and I regularly report auctions of fake coins when I encounter them.

    However, this was a case where the seller didn't know the value of die marriages and misinterpreted some attribution data. It was discussed and settled amicably. However, I did initially suspect that this was another rip-off attempt and used the 4-letter S-word OVER HERE in the first post and th title before we discussed and resolved the matter amicably via PMs. Shame on me for posting prematurely, using the 4-letter S-word here, and offering insincere bids in the vicinity of the coin's worth (yet only 3.6% of their minimum bidding level) to send a message. I'll continue to try to stop sellers from ripping people off, but I'll take my spanking for my initial posts in this thread.

    3 rim nicks away from Good
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    logger7logger7 Posts: 8,081 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Coin vendors have used these tactics for a long time; some talk about how much more rare $20 Libs are especially non-1904 issues than Saints, or certain somewhat better dates. Since Greysheet may not reflect the pricing being higher they try to find some reasons to tout them.

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    jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,935 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @braddick said:
    eBay has the ability for sellers never even to be aware of lowball offers. eBay kills the proposal at a pre-determined amount the seller has placed; thus, the seller is not bothered by nonsense.

    This is true, IF you bother to set the threshold.

  • Options
    jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,935 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Barberian said:

    @MasonG said:

    @Barberian said:
    The seller? The seller has thanked me as well.

    For saying in this thread that he was trying to scam people? I suppose anything is possible.

    @Barberian said:
    I realize buyers should be aware of what they're buying, but this is a scam, IMO.

    What I wrote here in this thread is not what I wrote to the seller. What I wrote here, as it turned out, was premature and my opinion was wrong, and I regret writing it now because the situation wasn't resolved between seller and me at that time. There was no intent to deceive by the seller. The seller posted an outrageous starting price (roughly 15-30 times more than what the coin is worth) because they used the wrong reference for rating a DMs rarity. I suggested a much better reference. Never in my PMs did I directly accuse them of scamming people. I had checked out their other BINs and auctions before PMing them.

    @MasonG said:

    @Barberian said:
    I did my homework before contacting the seller and sent the seller the diagnosis page from Bugert (2013). The seller offers other coins at reasonable prices, so I figured this was just a lack of understanding of what PCGS census stats represent for SLH varieties.

    You could have just ignored him, you know.

    Yes and no. Sorry, but I'm tired of seeing people getting ripped off on eBay, ETSY, and elsewhere. Beat up 1957-D Lincoln cents worth 3 cents being offered for $35,000. A markup of 1,100,000 times what the coin is actually worth is, ahem, a scam! People selling fakes everywhere, with sellers usually claiming they took the obvious fake coin to dealers who told them it was real. Yeah, right! $10 obvious fakes sold for $1000 or more. Call them whatever you want, I call them crooks and scammers. I confront these crooks and I regularly report auctions of fake coins when I encounter them.

    However, this was a case where the seller didn't know the value of die marriages and misinterpreted some attribution data. It was discussed and settled amicably. However, I did initially suspect that this was another rip-off attempt and used the 4-letter S-word OVER HERE in the first post and th title before we discussed and resolved the matter amicably via PMs. Shame on me for posting prematurely, using the 4-letter S-word here, and offering insincere bids in the vicinity of the coin's worth (yet only 3.6% of their minimum bidding level) to send a message. I'll continue to try to stop sellers from ripping people off, but I'll take my spanking for my initial posts in this thread.

    That is fair and a very mature response. What you did was laudatory. But using the S-word publicly was, at least for me, problematic. I appreciate you owning the mistake. I also appreciate you taking the time to educate the seller and, by extension, us!

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