There's a twist on an online scam that targets sellers, and while it's not brand new, the shipping switcharoo scam may catch sellers off guard during the busy holiday shopping season.
Typically the way the "traditional" shipping-switcharoo scam works is that a buyer asks the seller to ship their item to a different address. If the seller complies, they lose any Item Not Received claims opened by the buyer. (Here's a recent thread on the eBay boards
where sellers are discussing the risks of complying with such requests.)
Some sellers play it by ear anyway, wanting to accommodate their buyers' requests, especially during the holidays when people are buying gifts for far-away family and friends. As one seller wrote, "I change addresses for buyers frequently and in 23 years of selling here I have never had a buyer scam me by asking for such," though they qualified their response.
Another seller pointed out the "twist" on this scam on the thread, writing, "You know, sometimes those requests to change the shipping address are initiated by someone other than the buyer."
We have heard other reports of scammers who reportedly "watch" eBay listings, and once they see the item is sold, they reach out to the seller and say they just bought the item and want it shipped to their family member as a gift - but they are not the buyer!
eBay explains its stance on changing a shipping address after a purchase
. In a nutshell, eBay tells buyers that sellers generally can't change the shipping address that buyers provided at checkout. "If they haven't yet sent the item, the best thing to do is to ask the seller to cancel the transaction, then buy the item again with the correct shipping address."
The eBay help page goes on to say: "If you made your purchase in the last hour, you can cancel the order yourself. We'll ask the seller to confirm that they haven't sent the item yet. If it's been more than an hour since your purchase, you'll need to contact the seller and ask them to cancel it for you."
As if that wasn't disheartening enough, the Better Business Bureau recently listed the top 12 scams of Christmas
, including fake alerts about compromised accounts and fake shipping notifications.
Scammers are taking advantage of sellers' goodwill and the hectic season, so remain vigilant as a seller and of course as a buyer as well. And feel free to share your horror stories to help your fellow sellers look out for scams.