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I bought a small piece of electronics for around 200€ on ebay-kleinanzeigen, the german equivalent of craigslist. The seller seemed honest and we agreed on him shipping the goods and me paying through PayPal. A day after I had paid, he said he packaged everything. Since then, I have not heard back from him.

About a week later, when I asked him when my package would arrive, ebay-kleinanzeigen emailed me back saying they banned the seller, but they will not tell me why.

I contacted the seller through PayPal but he hasn't responded in 4 days. Tomorrow I will contact the PayPal team to get a refund.

What is curious to me though is, why would someone try to scam people but accept payment through PayPal? Is there any way for him to profit off this?

Update: It is now two weeks after I bought the piece of hardware and it just got here. No comment from the seller, just a small box with the electronics in it. It works just fine, too. I closed the PayPal case and still am a bit in disbelieve but oh well, I can't complain much :)

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The seller probably already transferred the funds out of paypal to something that paypal could not reverse. Your refund from paypal will be at paypal's expense and the fraudulent seller is gone with the money.

This is why paypal charges fees.

  • This wouldn't be sustainable for the seller though, right? PayPal would ban him and his bank account immediately. In Germany it is not very convenient to create bank accounts and they are closely linked to personal information that will unambiguously identify him. This doesn't seem like something somebody would pull off for a mesely 200€. Possible though. – AMindlessBuyer Jul 19 '18 at 6:47
  • Seller probably used a quasi or completely fake identity. – quid Jul 19 '18 at 7:00
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    Or an account owned by one of the many people who come here to ask "Someone [I've never heard of] wants to put some money in my account... is this a scam?" – TripeHound Jul 19 '18 at 8:02
  • @quid , in Germany you can't open a bank account with a fake identity (unless it's CIA quality level. People that can accomplish that have easier ways to make money) – Aganju Jul 19 '18 at 12:00
  • @Aganju Do you know whether German eBay insists on only linking to a German account? I suspect they might, but if they don't, the scammers could possibly use accounts in a less stringent country (or, as I said above, simply use other people's accounts). – TripeHound Jul 19 '18 at 14:34
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No way to know without a thorough investigation, but I'd guess that you're not the only victim. He scams a bunch of people for a few hundred each, gets non-trivial money, and then disappears.

As to where he goes with the money ... He might buy something of value from a legitimate seller using that Paypal account and get the merchandise before he disappears. I have no idea how difficult it is to get a bank account in Germany. Maybe he's figured out a way around the safeguards you discuss. Maybe he transfers the money to an account in a country with fewer safeguards. Maybe he's got a scam going on the other side to get someone else to launder the money for him.

People sometimes devote incredible amounts of effort and ingenuity into scamming others. I often wonder if they couldn't make more money with a legitimate business if they put the same amount of effort into it.

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