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Don't Get Suckered by eBay Scams

Our expert explodes the myths behind all those "get rich quick" schemes targeting eBay sellers.

I'm getting a little put off (OK--very put off) by the hundreds of get-rich-quick eBay offers on the internet. Its seems like a day doesn't go by where I don't get an e-mail featuring a brand new, foolproof money-making system. Below are a few quotes from these tempting offers:

"I made $2 million on eBay, and you can, too!"

"Try this simple, foolproof system for making money on eBay."

"We have the hottest insider information for finding limitless sources of hot products to sell."

"Joe Schmo made $22,000 a day on eBay after downloading our guide."

There seems to be three main types of eBay scams: those that promise you big bucks, those that have a questionable testimonial from some unidentifiable person, and those that promise to give you the "inside scoop" on what it takes rake in the dough. Let's dissect each of these offers and expose them for what they really are.

Myth #1: "You'll Make Big Bucks!"
Let's think about those quotes I listed above. If someone actually made $2 million on eBay, do you really think they'd be spending their time instructing you? No offence, but if $2 million landed in my lap, I sincerely doubt I'd still be your humble columnist. I'd even question the legitimacy of the person making $22,000 a day on eBay.

Hidden in these promises for money is an important fact: There's a difference between gross and net sales--something, it seems, that many of the people making these claims can't distinguish between. Business 101 tells us that gross sales means the total amount of money we take in, and net sales equals the money we have left over after deducting our costs of doing business. Ah, there's the rub! An eBay seller can climb their way to $150,000 a month Titanium Power Seller status, but remember: that status is based on gross sales! After deducting all their costs, their actual net sales may be much less.

In addition to that, a Titanium Power Seller (or any eBay seller) could be losing money by the bucketful and not realize it. And often many are! The higher the number of listings and the more money comes in, the more of a chance there is of mistaking busy work for success. Many sellers follow the common theory that they'll grow their businesses by listing thousands of items on eBay and watch the money roll in. Sellers who actually run businesses in this fashion end up spending money as it comes in, rather than deducting their expenses, paying their bills and seeing what's left. What counts on eBay is your sell-through rate, or how many of your listings actually sell.

Myth #2: "I Did It, Now Let Me Teach You!"
Who is this person? Another thing that impresses me when reading these missives is that often the "instructor" is someone who has interviewed many successful eBay sellers but has only sold one type of item (and they've only been at it for a short period of time).

What's this person's eBay ID? Look over the e-mail or website. Is there a link to a contact phone number? A legitimate street address? I have yet to see one that does. These "instructors" hide behind websites hidden in links of other websites. Why would you give your credit card information to someone you can't identify?

They may even be selling chapters from popular books on eBay. Why not just buy these books that are published by legitimate publishers and sold at legitimate bookstores? (You can buy used copies on eBay from sellers with good feedback.) A footnote here: You should know that the author of these books often has no control of where their chapters show up. This is another way publishers make money, by licensing book chapters to almost anyone who'll pay them.

Myth #3: "We Have the Inside Scoop!"
If you had the real inside secret to success on eBay, would you be selling it online? I really doubt it. The true top power sellers that I've spoken to say they'd never, ever give away their secrets, not to mention give away (or sell) their sources.

The bottom line is, successful companies do not give away their trade secrets. Employees of big corporations who leak trade secrets can often find themselves being sued by their employers. Why do you think most employers have people sign a non-disclosure agreement? You can't even walk past eBay's lobby without signing one!

Warning!
One popular scam is an offer to download a portion of their super secret "deal" immediately. Once you do, they'll send the rest of your "free" package in the mail. You're asked to input your name, address, phone number and e-mail address. Once you input that data, you'll next find yourself at a page that asks for your credit-card number to cover a minor shipping charge. Before you figure that the $3 they charge to your card is no big deal, look for the fine print or privacy policy. I found on several of these sites that by giving away your credit-card number you're joining a newsletter list and will pay for a monthly membership! Also, you can't cancel this monthly charge to your card unless you contact them. Wait a minute--who are you sending all this info to? You have no idea!

These people are making a fortune off of decent people like you and I who just want to learn how to succeed. The only way to succeed is to study legitimate texts and to practice your business on eBay.

Remember: There is no golden Wonka ticket to success on eBay.

Let me close with one of my favorite quotes from one of these get-rich-quick sites: "He's had a successful eBay business for several years now, making as much a $50,000 a month." Yes, that's true...he now makes $50,000 a month selling his system to suckers like us.

Marsha Collier, a successful eBay PowerSeller, is the author of the bestselling eBay references, eBay for Dummies, 4th Edition and Starting an eBay Business for Dummies.

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