Identified Scam:

eBay Vehicle Purchase Protection Scam: Check Before You Buy

When buying a car via eBay, make sure you complete the purchase using eBay's system, or it won't be protected and you could lose thousands.
Updated 10 June 2021
eBay Vehicle Purchase Protection Scam: Check Before You Buy
Identified Scam:
Key Finding

Scammers ask for payment outside eBay's system, promising the transaction is covered by eBay's vehicle purchase protection.

Key Risk

Once you make payment, the scammer will either deliver a vehicle that wasn't as promised or fail to deliver a vehicle at all, and you won't be able to get a refund.

Sections on this page
  1. What Is the eBay Motors Vehicle Purchase Protection Scam?
  2. How to Beat and Avoid eBay Vehicle Purchase Protection Scams
  3. Examples of eBay Vehicle Purchase Protection Scams
  4. Fallen for an eBay Vehicle Purchase Protection Scam?
  5. Frequently Asked Questions

The biggest red flag to look out for in this scam is someone promising that your purchase will be covered by the eBay Motors Vehicle Purchase Protection even though you're not buying the vehicle on eBay. If you encounter this scenario, don't proceed with the transaction.

What Is the eBay Motors Vehicle Purchase Protection Scam?

When you’re shopping online for a used vehicle, you might encounter a seller who promises that the eBay Vehicle Purchase Protection plan covers your purchase. If you’re on a non-eBay site, however, the eBay guarantee does not apply.

Even if you met the seller on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, the seller might disguise their emails or messages to look like they’re from eBay. If you fall for the scam, you could lose thousands of dollars and never see the vehicle you thought you were purchasing.

Here’s how the scam works.

You Meet a Seller on a Non-eBay Site

You’ve found a car that you want to purchase, and it’s on a site such as Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. The vehicles used in these scams tend to be low-mileage, older models offered for an exceptionally low price.

The Seller Promises You That eBay Will Protect the Transaction

To entice you into buying the car, the seller informs you that eBay’s Motor Vehicle Protection plan will cover your purchase.

eBay Motor Vehicle Protection

eBay covers the online purchase of an eligible vehicle not exceeding $100,000 for items purchased on or after September 1, 2016. For items purchased before September 1, 2016, your eligible vehicle purchase is protected for up to $50,000 or the vehicle purchase price, whichever is lower.

Seller Demands Payment

If you agree to purchase the car, the seller typically sends a fake invoice designed to appear as if it came from eBay Motors. They might also ask for payment through a third party or in the form of eBay gift cards. The seller promises that you can get your money back if you aren’t satisfied with the car.

The Scammer Takes Your Money, But the Car Never Arrives

Once you send the money, your car doesn’t show up according to the agreed-upon terms. You try to contact the seller, but you’re unable to reach them.

When you try to file a claim with eBay, you find out that the transaction was never covered under eBay’s Motor Vehicle Protection plan, as the seller (i.e., scammer) promised. You’re left without your money and the car.

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How to Beat and Avoid eBay Vehicle Purchase Protection Scams

It can be tempting to fall for an attractively low price, especially when it’s paired with an eBay Motor Vehicle Protection guarantee. Scammers know you might be a little reluctant to make such a large purchase online, which is why they offer the guarantee and disguise themselves as eBay sellers.

How to Beat this Scam

To avoid being scammed by someone promising your purchase is covered under eBay's Vehicle Purchase Protection when it's not, there are some best practices you should follow when buying a car online.

Avoid Sites Without a Money-Back Guarantee

You have the best chance of finding a legitimate deal for a quality vehicle on an online marketplace like eBay, where the Vehicle Purchase Protection covers certain vehicle transactions completed on That means you logged into your eBay account and either submitted the winning bid, clicked “buy it now” on the listing, or sent an acceptable offer to the seller. As long as the sale was completed on eBay and appears in your eBay purchase history, you should qualify for the Motor Vehicles Protection plan.

Watch Out for Extremely Low Prices

If the price of a car seems too good to be true, it probably is. Do your research on Kelley Blue Book or Nada Guides, so you know the car's approximate value.

Check your eBay Messages

If you are suspicious about a message claiming to be from eBay Motors, check your eBay account messages directly within eBay. If you don’t see the same message in that Messages tab, the message you received is fake.

Research the Seller’s Background

A legitimate seller will have excellent feedback, ratings, and comments. To ensure correspondence is authentic, communicate with the seller by phone or through eBay’s Messages feature.

Shop for Cars in Person Before Paying

A used-car dealership is still the safest bet for purchasing a used vehicle. This is because you can inspect the car in person and take it for a test drive. However, plenty of legitimate eBay sellers will be happy to meet with you in person and arrange for you to exchange payment at that time.

Red Flags of eBay Vehicle Purchase Protection Scams

As soon as you spot the signs of an eBay Motor Vehicle Protection scam, it’s best to stop communicating with the scammer. These are the main red flags to watch for:

  • The seller offers an eBay guarantee, but the vehicle wasn’t listed on eBay.
  • Emails and messages have poor grammar, broken English, or misspellings.
  • Emails are sent from outside the domain.
  • Emails contain false information, such as fake invoice numbers, transaction case IDs, or VPP case ID numbers.
  • Seller wants you to pay in eBay gift cards or asks you to wire the money through an independent third party.
  • You cannot meet the seller or look at the vehicle before purchase.
  • The vehicle’s advertised price is well below its value.
  • The seller refuses payment via eBay's system.

Examples of eBay Vehicle Purchase Protection Scams

eBay scammers put in the effort to make sure their messages look authentic.

Example of an eBay scam posting

Although this invoice includes the eBay logo and mentions the Vehicle Purchase Protection, it also includes the tell-tale signs of a scam, such as a transaction ID number and a payment method in gift cards.

Example of eBay vehicle purchase protection scam
(Source: eBay Community)

This email has the traditional sad story to entice the buyer. Also, the car is listed on Craigslist, but the seller states that the transaction would take place through eBay, which would not happen unless the actual listing was on


Fallen for an eBay Vehicle Purchase Protection Scam?

If you’ve fallen victim to one of these scams, it’s essential to act quickly. Here’s what you should do:

  • Contact your bank
  • Contact the gift card or wire transfer service
  • Report the scam to the authorities
  • Report the scam to eBay

Contact Your Financial Institution

If you’ve purchased gift cards or wired money to cover the cost of the used vehicle, contact your bank or credit card company to let them know you’ve been the victim of a scam. There’s no guarantee that they will return your money.

Contact the Gift Card Company or Wire Transfer Service

If your bank cannot return the money, contact the gift card company or wire transfer service. Tell them the money was used in a scam and ask if they can refund your money.

Report the eBay Vehicle Purchase Protection Scam

The FBI is well aware of this scam and has released a public service announcement warning the public of its dangers. If you are a victim of this scam, you can file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center and report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Forward Fake Emails to eBay

If you’ve received any fake invoices from sellers outside of eBay, forward those emails to [email protected]. While you’re not covered under eBay’s buyer protection policies, inform eBay of these scams can help them shut down the seller’s profiles.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are vehicle purchases made outside eBay safe?

While it is possible to buy a vehicle outside of eBay from a private seller, be aware that regardless of what the seller tells you, the purchase is not protected by eBay unless you complete the transaction within eBay's system.

How can I tell if someone is trying to scam me using eBay's Vehicle Purchase Protection?

If a seller insists on you paying for the vehicle via a method other than via eBay's payment system, then it's likely a scam. Look for other tell-tale signs also, such as no vehicle listing on eBay, eBay emails that don't come from the domain, and pushy sellers.

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