Photographers beware: eBay buyer steals camera and lens by pretending to receive wrong product

Jul 24, 2019

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Photographers beware: eBay buyer steals camera and lens by pretending to receive wrong product

Jul 24, 2019

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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Buying and selling gear online is convenient in many ways, but sadly, it comes with a risk of various scams. Apparently, the scammers have figured out how to rob you even through eBay, the website which is generally one of the safest options. Photographer Liz Moughon was recently subject of one such eBay scam, and she shared her story with DIYP as a cautionary tale for all of you who want to sell your gear online.

In mid-June current year, Liz sold an unopened Sony a6500 with 18-135mm lens kit which she’d won on a competition. She listed it on eBay for $1,400, the buyer paid for it through PayPal and the package was delivered. But then, the buyer asked to return the camera for a full refund, claiming that Liz sold him the Sony Nex-6 with a 20mm lens.

What the buyer did was simply taking Liz’s camera out of the packaging box, put his camera inside, took photos and sent them to eBay as a “proof” that she’d sent him the wrong product. She suspected that he’d done that, so when he asked for a refund, she declined his request and called eBay to warn them that this could be a fraud.

“I asked them if they could investigate the buyer. They said no because they had to follow their procedure. I begged them not to go through with the return/refund. They said they had to because that’s the policy but confirmed that if the buyer returned a camera different from what I listed, then they would refund me.”

This is what Liz sent:

And these are the photos submitted by the buyer as “the proof” she’d sent the wrong package:

In order to try and stop the refund from being paid out, Liz placed a stop payment fee on her bank account so that eBay couldn’t access the funds to refund the buyer. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. It turned out that, with her bank, it only works with recurring payments, not one time payments. So, the buyer returned the Sony Nex-6 camera to Liz. Since it was of similar size and weight, she didn’t bother getting the USPS involved because shipping had gone smoothly. eBay refunded the buyer $1,400 and the case was closed. But Liz didn’t want it to just end there and she re-opened the case with eBay.

“I requested to re-open the case with my new photos proving that I received a camera different from what I listed. I heard nothing for several days, so I called again. eBay asked for a police report and said if I couldn’t get one, to get the contact info of the officer I spoke to so that they could contact him. I got a police incident report, and the officer said they don’t deal with online shopping at all but that he would be happy to speak to eBay for me. I sent it in.”

Liz didn’t hear from eBay for several days, so she called again. And it got more complicated. They asked for an affidavit, so she filled that out and sent it back. Again, she didn’t hear from them and she waited a few days before calling again. “This time the person on the phone told me my case had been denied for the second time. They didn’t even bother to contact me to tell me that,” Liz tells DIYP.

“I was on the phone for 45 minutes and still got nowhere. Finally, the person on the phone (who seemed to believe me) told me that if this had been less than $750, then she could have refunded me. But she didn’t have the authority to release an amount more than that. I also learned that the people who review these cases do so only from written documents, but they never talk to the seller or the buyer on the phone. I begged her to ask them to investigate the buyer, but she said it’s not in their policy to do so.”

After the pretty unpleasant experience with eBay, Liz tried turning to PayPal. However, they said that they only deal with cases that buyers open. Then she called her bank, which temporarily released the funds until they make a decision, but it would take months before they do.

Liz didn’t have any luck with eBay, her bank and PayPal, so she decided to turn to her last resort: social media. And it worked! After days on the phone with their representatives, it only took eBay a day to contact her on Twitter and Facebook saying that they’ll re-open the case. Finally, they refunded Liz 10% seller fee of $140, and the entire $1,400.

“I honestly feel bad that eBay was caught in the middle of this and is probably suffering the financial loss from the refund. I appreciate them finally coming through for me, and I understand how complicated it can be to review cases like these. My frustration is that during every conversation they started with ‘Well the buyer said…’ They began by believing the buyer first. Even though I called multiple times and voluntarily filled out every form, they refused to ever investigate the buyer until the very end. I just hope that they consider changing their policy to protect sellers and buyers equally. As it is, sellers can’t even leave feedback comments about buyers.”

Luckily for Liz, this ended up in refunding her for the loss after all, but it could have ended differently. She says that, if she ever sells something online, she’ll package the item at the post office and have someone video record her packing it up and handing it off to USPS. “Or I will only sell in person,” she adds.

As we can see from Liz’s case, eBay is protecting buyers way more than sellers. If you’re buying gear, it sure is good to know that you’re protected as a buyer. But if you’re selling, it can be a whole different story.  Dishonest people have apparently figured out that they will be protected as buyers, so they started using it for scams. Therefore, be very careful when selling your gear online, even via a safe website such as eBay. You can never be too careful.

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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30 responses to “Photographers beware: eBay buyer steals camera and lens by pretending to receive wrong product”

  1. Shachar Weis Avatar
    Shachar Weis

    EBay will always side with the buyer. Always. Even when the buyer is clearly lying, even when you have evidence that the buyer is lying , they don’t care. I sold a few items on eBay, never again.

    1. Matt King Avatar
      Matt King

      Not always I got scammed because the seller shipped a package to another address in my zip code. According to eBay and PayPal I had received the package. I talked to my post office and he sent an official email explaining exactly where the package with that tracking number went and they still wouldn’t believe me

    2. Bolkey Avatar

      True, and that’s a bad thing for honest sellers. Yet I am afraid that attitude reflects the number of dishonest sellers vs. that of scamming buyers. Best thing to do is to make sure that there’s no money on your Paypal account and withdrawals from your bank account can be reversed.

  2. Jia Chen Lu Avatar
    Jia Chen Lu

    So… She got a free camera?

    1. Matt Nicki Lautemann Avatar
      Matt Nicki Lautemann

      Jia Chen Lu are you implying the scam and theft were ok? She didn’t want a “free camera” and certainly not one that was a fraction of the value. It’s not cool to scam people.

    2. Sergi Yavorski Avatar
      Sergi Yavorski

      What are you trying to say here?

    3. Jia Chen Lu Avatar
      Jia Chen Lu

      I mean she was scammed because the scammer took her camera and send her a cheaper one. But then ebay refunded her the price of the camera yes? Plus she kept the scammer’s camera. Or I read it wrong?

  3. Charlie Muller Avatar
    Charlie Muller

    Awesome – it’s about time Ebay needs shut down anyway

    1. Sergi Yavorski Avatar
      Sergi Yavorski

      It’s the stupidest thing I read today

  4. Jeff Hayward Avatar
    Jeff Hayward

    Interesting story. But she shouldn’t feel bad for eBay. They’re worth billions and she had to go public before they took her seriously.

    1. Sergi Yavorski Avatar
      Sergi Yavorski

      How many scumbags do you think they have to refund to each day??

      1. ilovewheat Avatar

        eBay are the scum bags. Even if they have to refund a thousand in a day at $1,400 a pop, it’s still a drop in the bucket of what they are worth. Stop with the “poor corporations are getting scammed” BS. You don’t think they have insurance and write offs for this crap? Liz had to fight tooth and nail to get her money back. She’s the victim in this scenario and eBay is just as culpable as the scammer in all of this. They are literally trying to have their cake and eat it too while taking us all for a ride.

  5. Mike Egan Avatar
    Mike Egan

    eBay and PayPal do not have the sellers back. It is a terrible idea to sell anything of value there, I know from experience

  6. WW Avatar

    Similar experience on eBay, though not as extreme as this one. Sold a like-new lens on eBay, almost a month later, buyer requested a return and refund. Got it back in used and worn condition, buyer just used it for a trip, virtually a free month long rental. I complained to eBay, they said nothing they can do, and that returns are “the cost of business”. I couldn’t even leave a negative feedback to the buyer.

  7. Jason Artiga Avatar
    Jason Artiga

    I always video my packaging on eBay sales, especially if they’re more than $100 oh, and I have the video ready in case this happens, also video any returns

    1. Ago Pelisaar Avatar
      Ago Pelisaar

      Jason Artiga … and that only proves you made a video, not necessarily anything else

    2. Jason Artiga Avatar
      Jason Artiga

      Ago Pelisaar not if you seal it and slap a postage sticker on it oh, I beat a claim like this years ago,and had to be very adamant about it

    3. Shachar Weis Avatar
      Shachar Weis

      It won’t help because ebay doesn’t care. They always side with the buyer, no matter what you show them.

    4. Jason Artiga Avatar
      Jason Artiga

      Shachar Weis I speak from experience, Ebay is my third passive income for years, I had someone try to scam me last Dec for 500 and eBay sided with me, I also had someone tried to do the same scam, I usually post on my eBay listing * All sales will be videoed prior to shipment” And always have that video on the cloud, I use my go pro on top of my shipping table to do it

    5. Sergi Yavorski Avatar
      Sergi Yavorski

      Great idea

  8. Dr Dub Avatar
    Dr Dub

    Exactly why I avoid eBay.

    I would never buy from eBay as people bid silly money – I recently wanted a cheap (almost disposable) SLR for a task and when I tried buying used Nikon D3300’s, the “winners” paid only a few percent less than a brand new 3500 from Amazon with full warranty and zero shutter actuations!

    Brainless buyers like this can make it tempting to sell your kit on eBay as who wouldn’t want that type of stupid money!

    But no, this is why I prefer to sell locally via other methods. Sure I get less (but a fair price for those with two or more brain cells) but the risk is so much lower.

  9. W Douglas LeBlanc Avatar
    W Douglas LeBlanc

    We only buys 2nd hand gear from reputable physical camera shops. (no pawns).

  10. Poblacht na hÉireann Avatar
    Poblacht na hÉireann

    I bought a refurbished camera on eBay. Didn’t work. Seller asked me to return and he world send another one. I never received anything. eBay/papal didn’t help. It took me weeks and hours and hours of phone talk and a ton of email when PayPal finally refunded me just to shut me up

    They don’t care about buyers either

  11. Miroslav Vrzala Avatar
    Miroslav Vrzala

    Easier to do then get a job

    1. Richard Joseph Avatar
      Richard Joseph


  12. Roland Avatar

    It’s so utterly pathetic that it took social media for eBay to finally take action. Shame on you eBay!!

  13. Tom Medlock Avatar
    Tom Medlock

    Something odd about this when you receive a request for a refund you have a week to contest/resolve it before it is automatically issued by eBay.

  14. Richard Joseph Avatar
    Richard Joseph

    If only these people used their high IQ for better purposes.

  15. Jason Artiga Avatar
    Jason Artiga

    You also on interrupt video for returns, your package comes you shoot an entire video of you opening in that package

  16. Tom Freda Avatar
    Tom Freda

    Apparently, she got to keep the scammer’s NEX-6 camera. This might actually make tracking the perp easily. Just check the EXIF. It’s possible he was too stupid to remove his copyright info.

    There’s also Stolen Camera Finder, which allows a victim of camera theft to find images posted on the internet which have their camera’s serial number in the EXIF.

    She got reimbursed, so if any of these options worked, she wouldn’t get her camera back. But it might allow the local police to charge him with fraud.

    Then there’s the possibility of social shaming if his name and location were revealed. At least it might result in him knowing that anonymity won’t save him.