Nearly 1 in 5 eBay auctions fraudulent?
A few years ago I started noticing an issue with the search for US Coins on eBay being clogged with hundreds of blatantly fraudulent auctions. These were offered by a multitude of vendors with zero record of sales and followed a clearly recognizable pattern.
Today the issue seems to have reached critical mass - clusters of these listings dominate the search feed with sometimes up to several ending every minute.
The seller accounts in question must be stealth or burner accounts purchased - by the hundreds - from online repositories. They appear to be operated by a common person or group. The defining characteristics of the operation are as follows:
- Common pocket change
- Starting bid in the $100-2500 range
- Account with zero seller feedback; newly-active
- Only one (sometimes 2) listing for sale per account
- Username often a jumble of random letters and numbers
- Common circulating coins listed for exorbitant prices
- Poor quality photos
- Auction title is vague, nondescript, pithy; improper use of capitalization
- Titles spam certain keywords (Coins, US, Lot, Error, Rare)
- Titles often unrelated to the coin pictured
- Repetition of exact keywords in titles across different seller accounts
- Auctions ending in time clusters yet from all different sellers accounts
- Listings ending at all times of the day
- Item locations often rural, obscure, low population
Examples from a recent cluster of auctions repeating similar language in titles:
Searching the category today (AM EST), more than 1 in 5 auctions ending in US Coins meet the above-mentioned criteria. This cluster ended within a 5-minute window:
So some entity appears to have developed the means to blitz the US Coins category with hundreds of auctions a day across multiple sock-puppet accounts, while avoiding IP detection by eBay. Moreover, it knows how to game the search algorithm. Now, seldom do the auctions in question receive a bid and even the least savvy buyer should detect something wrong with them. So, what might be the goal of such an operation?
I have attempted to bring this to eBay's attention several times in the past, but was never able to successfully penetrate the bureaucracy. It's hard to believe eBay wouldn't notice spamming of this magnitude and shut it down.
Maybe these assumptions are entirely wrong and each day hundreds of real people across the US all of the sudden decide to fire up years-dormant eBay accounts to try their luck at selling a piece of pocket change for big bucks? Seeking opinions.