An eBay scam exploits a postal area loophole

Online shopping has been a benefit to many, especially those who can’t find the time to head to the shops to find specific items. It’s in the selling of very specific products that eBay became widely popular with buyers. After all, if you still want that Backstreet Boys album in CD format, eBay is the place to go.


What started out as a place where you could sell your old items to interested buyers transformed into a dark place where people with bad intentions like to hang out. While eBay still remains to be the platform of choice for getting rid of old stuff, buyers now have to be extremely aware owing to the number of scams on the site.

A scam can affect both buyers and sellers, with eBay tending to side with buyers most of the time. Many buyers who only wish ill are taking advantage of this perk. One of the ways a buyer scams a seller is by exploiting a postal address loophole.

Buyer Scams Seller

A specific case of this happening was highlighted in The Guardian. The wife of a man from Middlesbrough sold his iPhone 7 Plus on eBay for £345. The buyer actually paid for the product and even asked for it to be delivered to a nearby Argos, a setup that eBay actually permits.

After a week, the seller heard again from the buyer. The latter indicated that they couldn’t activate the phone so it had to be returned. Despite being sure that the phone works, the sellers decided to give the buyer a refund.

It was rather a surprise then to find that a package was indeed mailed but it did not contain the alleged unusable phone.

How did that happen?

Postal Address Loophole

The couple from Middlesbrough aren’t a unique case. In fact, they found a thread of sellers who run into the same problem. Buyers get in touch with them about wanting to purchase their item, only to complain later about something not working then requesting a refund. Sellers, who only want to please buyers, give in to the request only to be scammed.

What a buyer does is send a package but the address is different to that of the seller’s. However, they make sure to use the same postal area where the seller lives. They even take pains to copy eBay’s return label.

Since the package was delivered to the same postal area, eBay considers the return absolutely fine. As such, they provide the buyer with a refund.

How can a buyer with an intent to scam get away with such an action? The tracking system of the Royal Mail only needs the postal town. It is this particular loophole that scammers are taking advantage of.

While eBay does side with buyers, they do listen to complaints. They have agreed to pay the Middlesbrough couple the money they lost. One of the main takeaways here is this: it’s tough to sell items with a high value on eBay. This doesn’t mean you should never do it. It just means that you have to demand cash for the item and make arrangements to meet the buyer in person so they can check the item and see if they are truly satisfied with it.

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