I’ve bought a lot of used photography gear over the years. Mostly from the used sections of known retailers, but occasionally I’ll find something on eBay or in a Facebook group that looks like a great deal and piques my interest. And while most used gear deals online are genuine, there are a few unscrupulous sellers out there.
This video, shot in 2015 and uploaded to YouTube in 2017, recently resurfaced on Reddit. It shows how Rob Wolchek discovered one eBay seller peddling stolen camera equipment. How do they know it was stolen? The person it was stolen from actually bought it and confirmed the serial numbers against her boxes and receipts.
Wolchek does something that few of us would advise people to do in such a situation. He finds, follows and confronts the eBay seller about these listings and where he sources the items he sells. He also raises up the topic of the stolen Nikon equipment.
Obviously, this seller denies all knowledge, saying that he takes people at face value if they “don’t look like a crackhead”.
But it serves as a good warning to us all to be careful when dealing with used equipment online. Whether it’s eBay, Craigslist, a Facebook group or anywhere else, check for things like serial numbers.
- Use sites like Stolen Camera Finder, CameraTrace and Lenstag to help check whether gear has been reported stolen before you buy
- Try to buy in person if you can
- Use PayPal’s buyer protection (don’t send money as a gift) if you can’t
- If buying on eBay, actually look at the feedback they’ve received, not just the number
If you end up buying stolen gear, even by accident, it can easily be taken from you and returned to its legitimate owner. You won’t get your money back. So, make sure to do your research on the sellers before buying online. And if a deal looks too good to be true, it usually is.
It also serves as a good reminder to not leave expensive gear sitting on view in a car, too.
Have you had gear stolen? Have you unknowingly bought stolen kit online? What did you do?