How to spot a scam when working as an eBay Trading Assistant

This morning I received the following email:

Travis Peterson ✆
to me

show details 10:01 AM (15 minutes ago)

Hello there,
Currently, I am looking for a selling assistant in the bay area who I can work with that would help me liquidate excess inventory that I have in stock during this holiday season and possible after. Mainly I deal with videogames and videogame accessories which are very easy to list and package. I have extensive knowledge to how ebay works and mainly need someone that could list my products and collect the payments and dispense the funds to me on a regular basis. This would require minimal time from you as I could do most of the work. Please let me know if you would be interested in working with me. If you can send your phone number in the response I could give you a call to better explain exactly what I am looking for and to discuss terms etc. I look forward to hearing from you.


If you receive an email such as this one, your best bet is to ignore it. There is nowhere to report it to eBay, and sending an email like this isn’t inherently illegal, so there’s no reason to let it go on further. But how can you tell whether these emails are scams?

Name and e-mail address do not match

Usually such an error happens when you get generic Viagra-style spam. I suppose the reason for this is because if the “From” name or signature at the bottom of the e-mail are familiar names to you (because most of us could know a Brian or a Travis Peterson) you are more likely to believe it. Or maybe this randomizing fools spam blockers. Or maybe spammers are just lazy. At any rate, this is a dead giveaway. Sure, some people go by their middle name (hello, Miles Edgerton), but they usually aren’t going to have the “From” be their official name if they don’t ordinarily use it.

He asks for a phone number to reach you

When you sign up for the eBay Trading Assistant program, you basically give eBay permission to do whatever it wants with all of your contact information. Our contact here should have my phone number already if he wants it. He doesn’t need me to give it to him. A common tactic for these scams is to ask for several bits of information because of the EXTRA information you may give along with it. The more the scammer can learn about you, the better he can come up with a convincing scenario to get you. For example, you may say, “I can be reached at 555-1212 in the evening, but during the day you can reach me at 555-1234.” He can search for your work number (what other reason would you have a daytime number?) online and find out where you work. You haven’t done business with this guy yet. Do you really want to risk having a stranger show up at your work, where all he knows about the company is your name? This can create issues for you at your day job, too.

Unclear of the concept

Some people sign up to be eBay Trading Assistants because it’s free. They may qualify to be one based on their experience with the auction site, but it doesn’t mean they are proficient at being an eBay seller. (This in and of itself is an issue eBay needs to take care of on its own end.) Others sign up because they see it as a get-rich-quick scheme. So if someone comes along and says they want you to sell some items for them, but they’ll do all the work — you just have to list the items — it’s time to turn around and run. Listing an item is the easiest part of selling on eBay. The form is there, and you just fill in the blanks. Or if you have a lot of things to list, you can just use eBay Turbo Lister 2. The other clue is that he tells you how easy it is. I know how easy it is. When you contact the Trading Assistant, you can see his stats. With nearly 8,000 positive feedbacks and 10 years’ experience, I don’t need to be told how easy this is. Perhaps this prospective business associate has some money orders from Nigeria that he’d like me to cash for him as well, complete with a 10% commission!

1 Comment »

  1. 1
    glasnost Says:

    Well Done! I Like it!

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