eBay fraud: How to spot the hacked account scam

These are just a fraction of the fraudulent listings on just one hacked eBay account…


Thousands of motorcycles, scooters, cars, caravans and other vehicles are being listed on eBay and Gumtree under hacked accounts. This scam is costing some unsuspecting buyers a huge amount of money, but with a few simple checks you can be sure you’ll not be a victim. And by reporting those listings, you can reduce the chances of others getting caught out.


Is buying a motorcycle or car on eBay and Gumtree safe?

Yes, it should be. But only if you stick to the rules; that means carrying out the process entirely within the app or website.

Make sure all your messages are sent via the app or website, never to a private email address. And while it should go without saying, check the vehicle out in person. The usual basic rules apply to buying any vehicle, however you found it;

  • See it in person
  • Check the V5 is in the seller’s name and the address on the paperwork corresponds to where it’s kept
  • Make sure the frame and engine numbers on the vehicle match those of the V5
  • Run an HPI check to ensure there’s no outstanding finance
  • Beware of fake IDs being used by sellers

For a more in-depth guide to buying, click here.


Thousands of motorcycles, scooters, cars, caravans and other vehicles are listed on eBay through a hacked account scam. Here’s how to spot the fraud…

Looking through the seller's other items in a hacked account can show dozens of vehicles with low prices


How is this new eBay scam working?

Sadly it’s not that new, and it’s not limited to eBay, but it is big. It works by a fraudster hacking someone’s well-established eBay or Gumtree account and adding hundreds or sometimes thousands of listings, using images they’ve stolen from other advertisements. They then encourage potential buyers to contact them outside of eBay, usually via an email address in the description. From that point, even if the listing is removed, the criminal is in contact with an interested buyer and can work on extracting a deposit or more from them.

The point is that they do not have access to any of the vehicles being advertised, and if asked they’ll likely say they’re somewhere inaccessible or a long distance away. They might offer to deliver it, but all they’re trying to do is extract some – or all – of the money.


Thousands of motorcycles, scooters, cars, caravans and other vehicles are listed on eBay through a hacked account scam. Here’s how to spot the fraud…

This is typical of the type of description you could find in a hacked account listing for a vehicle


How to recognise a hacked account and fraudulent listing

Because these are hacked accounts, you can’t go by what is very genuine good feedback; the account owner has often spent many years building up their reputation as a trusted trader. But fake listings typically follow a fairly obvious pattern, so here are your main clues…

  • Very low starting price – usually just £1 – or a ‘too good to be true’ low classified listing price
  • Often only one image of the vehicle
  • Little to no detail in the description
  • An email address for you to contact outside of the platform
  • The sellers ‘other items’ contain multiple listings for vehicles, caravans etc
  • Those listings use pictures that are all from different locations

If you want to delve deeper, you could try Googling the registration of the vehicle if it’s shown in the pic; some genuine traders include the reg in their adverts, and they may well have had images stolen and used in fake listings.

Equally, try Googling the description of the vehicle, or drag the photo into a Google image search; there’s a chance you might find the original listing, if it’s still active.


How to spot a hacked account

We found a hacked account and show you what to watch out for…


How can I report a scammer on eBay and Gumtree?

It’s very easy to report a listing to eBay – just scroll down to ‘Report this listing’, then select the relevant options:

File a report section

Drop-down option to select

Report category

Listing practices

Reason for report

Fraudulent listing activities

Detailed reason

You suspect that a listing is fraudulent

Then simply click ‘Submit report’; it’s as simple as that, and it could help prevent someone else from getting caught out.

To report a listing on Gumtree, click the ‘Report’ button in the seller details, then choose ‘This is illegal/fraudulent’. You can also add some more information before hitting ‘Send report’.

You can find out more about scams, and how to help report them at www.facebook.com/groups/GroupEVSA.


Thousands of motorcycles, scooters, cars, caravans and other vehicles are listed on eBay through a hacked account scam. Here’s how to spot the fraud…

Reporting a fraudulent listing is easy


How do eBay and Gumtree prevent scams?

eBay does of course try to keep on top of new scams, and works with law enforcement around the world, but there will often be a period during which a new exploit is used by the criminals. You can read more about eBay security advice by clicking here, and get safety advice from GumTree here.

A spokesperson from Gumtree told us that “We take fraud very seriously and are committed to tackling scams and educating people about how to avoid them. We invest regularly in new technology which is designed to combat the evolving techniques used by scammers. For example, Gumtree automates the detection and removal of sites pretending to be part of the platform, using keywords to filter and block offending adverts. We also use data to identify fraudster patterns, links and trends, with automatic blacklisting of IP addresses taking part in suspicious activity.

“In our vehicle category, any vehicle being sold for less than £50 is deemed too cheap and therefore must be posted under the parts category. For more information, buyers can visit The Inside Track, our guide to buying and selling used vehicles, and our Staying Safe in Motors advice page on how to spot a scam. We actively encourage users who think they may have come across a scam to report it to us immediately and if you have any doubts about a potential transaction, walk away and seek our advice before deciding to go through with the sale. Our dedicated safety team can investigate and take action such as blocking the offender from the site. We are constantly working closely with the police and other authorities to ensure all our users have as safe an experience as possible.”

An eBay spokesperson said that; “Millions of people use eBay safely every day and cases like these are extremely rare. We invest heavily in measures to protect our users from privacy and security threats, including investment in teams dedicated to safety, customer service and law enforcement liaison.

“Fraudsters use very sophisticated methods to try and circumvent trusted website security and we continuously enhance and update our security infrastructure to tackle new fraud trends.

“We have systems in place to protect both the buyer and seller in a transaction. When an item is not received, the buyer is refunded as per our eBay Moneyback Guarantee policy.

“From enabling two-step verification, to regularly changing your password, we encourage all members to take precautions that will improve the level of security protection on their accounts.”


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