Scalpers love sites like eBay, because it means they have somewhere to peddle their ill-gotten gains. But it looks like eBay is becoming a new battleground against scalpers and their bots, with fake listings that look too good to be true.
And that’s because they are too good to be true. That bargain Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 you’re about to buy isn’t a graphics card at all, it’s a picture designed to confuse bots.
Selling pictures of in-demand products is nothing new. We’ve already seen scammers attempt to sell photos of the PS5 for outrageous prices, and that’s exactly what’s happening here. So you need to be careful and make sure you don’t get scammed.
A lot of these listings are being put up to try and catch bots. Because if scalpers are tricked into spending thousands of dollars on photos, which are completely worthless, the logic is that they won’t have that money to spend on a genuine GPU.
Take this listing, for instance, which currently has over 5 days to go and has already clocked up 14 bids. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you’ll see that the listing is actually for a hand drawn image of the 3090, not the card itself. Another listing, which has amassed over $1,400 in bids at the time of writing, promises a high quality photo of the card and not the card itself.
Several of these listings warn humans that they should not be bidding on this stuff, and that it’s designed to catch bots. It’s not restricted to the 3090 either, as this listing featuring the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 shows. Despite the fact the image is very clearly a picture of a printed picture, and the warnings from the seller, it’s still amassed 23 bids totalling over $1,000.
How to avoid getting scammed
While these listings may have noble intentions, they are still scams. You may well be able to get a refund if you fall for it, provided you bought through PayPal or some other service that offers robust buyer protection, but it’s not guaranteed. Your best option is to not fall for them in the first place.
The main thing to remember is that if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. The RTX 3090 has a $1,499 MSRP, and is basically impossible to find. So any listings under that price are automatically suspicious. More so if they’re quite close to ending.
The second thing to remember is to check the listings’ title and description for any indication that it may not be a real product. A lot of the descriptions I’ve seen are fairly upfront about that fact in the description, even if the rest of the listing suggests that it’s a brand new and unopened graphics card.
The title may also contain clues that this isn’t meant for legitimate people, such as claiming it’s a print, image, or something of that nature. One listing we saw even referred to the 3090 as a “jpegedition”, though it doesn’t have any bids right now.
If you do think that you’ve fallen for a scam and bid on a dodgy listing, try and cancel your bid. eBay has instructions on how to do this, so read through them and do everything you can. In a worse case scenario where you can’t cancel your bids, and you end up winning, don’t hand over any money. Message the seller and tell them the situation, At best they will cancel the sale, at worst they will send you nasty messages. Either way it’s better than giving them your money.
Your best bet to avoid scams is to ignore all the aftermarket sites altogether. Not only does that make it harder for scalpers to profit from their actions, it means you’re not at risk of some random seller scamming you for an entire month’s salary. So make sure to check out our guide on where to buy Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090, and keep your eyes peeled for legit restock news.