I frequent the saddle listings on eBay, looking for those great deals on saddles that I’ve always wanted to try. Sometimes the deals are too good to be true — for a reason: they are scams. Mostly, these are people who don’t have an item to sell but have pirated the photo from another auction. Sometimes a scammer has hijacked a seller’s account, using their positive feedback to trick people into bidding. And occasionally, people are selling a saddle that is not as represented.
How can you tell if an auction is legit? Here are a few ways:
- Only buy from sellers with positive feedback.
- Look at the seller’s other listings and past listings. Do they have a history of selling equine-related items? If the only thing they’ve sold is antique coins or car parts, chances are their account has been hijacked.
- Only pay through Paypal, using a credit card. If there’s a problem you have more avenues of recourse.
- The photos should of the actual item being sold, not a retail shot. Ask for additional photos if they don’t show all the views that you want to see. A legitimate seller will take them for you.
- Ask questions. A legitimate seller will have answers, a scammer won’t know.
- Ask specifically if the tree is sound or if there is any damage to the saddle.
- Never buy from someone with private feedback.
- Always correspond with the seller through eBay — if they list a separate email or phone number the account has likely been hijacked.
- If you don’t win the auction but get a “Second Chance” offer, make sure that it is from the original seller. It’s a common scam for third parties to make these offers.
- If you think the auction is fake, try doing a search for that saddle using the “completed” items search. You might find the same photos used in a previous auction.
- If a deal looks too good to be true, it generally is.
If you think an auction is a scam, you should report it to eBay. I hate to see people taken in by schemers. It’s hard enough to come up with the money for a saddle; you should at least get what you’ve paid for.