How Crypto Mining Led to eBay Scams


Online sellers are a diverse and entrepreneurial bunch, but being on the leading edge can prove risky as letters from readers sometimes reveal, such as a recent letter to EcommerceBytes that started off:

“After about 20 years with eBay and my recent regrettable decision to try my hand at crypto-mining, and hunting for graphic cards and ASICS on eBay. (There are disappearing listings that vanish once you pay), I was shocked to find out eBay decided to punish me, the buyer and suspended my account permanently.”

Before going further, some research was needed to understand the predicament in which the seller found himself. 

Crypto mining, aka Bitcoin mining, is performed using very sophisticated computers that solve extremely complex computational math problems, according to Investopedia. “By mining, you can earn cryptocurrency without having to put down money for it.”

But the entry warns: “Cryptocurrency mining is painstaking, costly, and only sporadically rewarding.”

The next question – what do graphic cards on eBay have to do with the reader’s predicament? 

In an article titled, “How cryptomining Bitcoin is making it harder to find the graphics cards you want: eBay profiteers aren’t your only problem,” TechRadar said because of the high value of Bitcoin (at the time of the writing 3 months ago), the investment in high-priced graphics card “would be worth the obscene markup, since everything after that would be profit.”
If you want more information about the graphics cards in questions, called GPUs, see this explanation on the Intel website.
People who were building their own PCs and needed these high-end graphics card (such as gamers) bemoaned the high cost of GPUs. In this Reddit thread, someone said in January they had purchased a card in late 2019 for $450 – “now they’re selling for over $600. There’s one sold on eBay for almost $900. This crypto mining stuff is serious.”

The EcommerceBytes reader said unscrupulous sellers were posting ads for discounted GPUs in what he said were deceptive listings – “if you’re a bargain hunter like me you find them.” Note that a search for “ebay gpu scams” on Google came up with quite a few results, including YouTube videos.

So why did eBay suspend the *reader* – a buyer who was supposedly duped by unscrupulous sellers?

“As to reason, I think they used the fact that I made multiple returns or bid on too many vanishing deals as a pretext to cancel me and to not have to honor buyer protection,” he said.

He recovered much of his losses, he said, but then he saw a message from eBay: “Buyer protection no longer applies to you.”

“Once they ban you,” he said, “PayPal, their partner in crime, doesn’t allow you to dispute a deceptive ad. I have recovered all but $295 or so. But only because I moved quickly.”

“This is eBay’s swan song in my opinion. There was no two ways about it, no explaining no talking, nothing,” he said. “The most disturbing part about it was after my initial conversations on the phone with the lady who issued me the vanishing item refunds, I could no longer reach them, and apparently AI handled the dump.  There was no two way communication. Just them.”

The EcommerceBytes reader wasn’t alone – on another Reddit thread from March, a poster said eBay banned them after they tried purchasing GPUs on its site. He wrote in part:

“The only thing I can think of is that they’re trying to ban scalpers and anyone involved in scalping activity. Even if this was the case, I would be the one getting scalped? Or maybe they think I was a bot trying to push bid prices higher? Either way, why can’t I appeal this or at least explain myself to someone without getting shunned from eBay.”

Some things to mull over:

– Some eBay sellers were allegedly defrauding or attempting to defraud buyers of GPUs.

– eBay has a Money Back Guarantee to protect buyers.

– eBay allegedly suspended buyers or would-be buyers of GPUs.

Believe it or not, this is not a new issue and one that an an eBay moderator commented on 2 years ago.

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