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Bot Wars: Enthusiasts Fight eBay Scalper Listings with False, Automated Bids

Terminator head
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The moderators of Reddit’s r/AMD subreddit have had enough with cybercriminals disrupting poor, innocent scalper sales, and have posted a thorough PSA on how exactly to make sure you don't commit this heinous cybercrime yourself. It's complete with links to the tools you should definitely not use to cancel scalper eBay listings with very little risk or effort. Pinky swear.

Sarcasm aside, a post from late last week shows that enthusiast communities are now developing bots of their own to fight back against scalpers. And these aren’t stock notification bots, which arguably make things almost as difficult for the average person as scalpers do. No, these are bots that seek to delegitimize aftermarket CPU and GPU sales entirely by making absurdly high bids on gray market listings using burner eBay accounts.

Last Friday, the head moderator of Reddit's /r/AMD, which has 712,000 members, posted a sarcasm-laden announcement - more of a guide - with a list of VPN software and bot scripts, encouraging (or, depending on your reading, not encouraging) users to create false eBay accounts through a VPN, then use the provided scripts to make dozens of absurdly high bids on scalper listings for items like Big Navi graphics cards and Zen 3 CPUs.

The idea would be to force scalpers to spend time manually cancelling bids, or to get their listings taken down through bidding so much that scalpers can’t cancel enough bids in time before the system declares the auction over. Ultimately, it would populate eBay with so many false buyers on scalper listings that putting items up for resale on the site becomes useless.

Making a false bid, of course, breaks eBay’s rules and could get your account banned. But with burner accounts and a VPN, one person could, in theory, continually repeat this strategy for weeks on end with no repercussions.

We’ll have to wait to see if one Reddit post from an enthusiast forum can upend the entire gray market, but the tactic here is sound enough that it’s worked before. The r/AMD post opens with a link to an eBay auction that was derailed with dozens of bids ranging from $10,000 - $70,000. In this case, the false bids were almost all placed a day before the guide went live. The people placing these large bids clearly had no intention of paying them, and while three of the accounts behind the bids have already been banned, the other 3 are still active and more can be created on other listings without issue by following the guide.

We’re sure that when you pictured 2020 as a kid, these aren’t the kind of bot wars you were imagining would be happening now. But with the state of our world as it is, we guess even Skynet has to work remotely.

  • Math Geek
    well this looks like a good way to spend some of that free time so many people find themselves trying to use up.

    blowing up those sales won't stop them of course but at least it might drive them to sites with less traffic where they are less likely to be successful.

    and thanks for linking to the PSA itself. makes it easier folks that are no inclined to get started themselves
    Reply
  • caseym54
    The "winning bidders" should be sure to give negative feedback about products not being delivered.
    Reply
  • Math Geek
    caseym54 said:
    The "winning bidders" should be sure to give negative feedback about products not being delivered.

    LMAO

    Reply
  • husker
    Reminds me of the story of a farmer who put a sign in his watermelon patch to discourage thieves: "Warning: one of these watermelons is poisoned!" Next day farmer looks at the sign and to his chagrin, thieves had crossed out the word "one" and written in "two". Now nobody gets one.
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    caseym54 said:
    The "winning bidders" should be sure to give negative feedback about products not being delivered.
    Wouldn't they have to pay the absurd bid they made before that was possible? Why would the scalper not ship at that point?
    Reply
  • ThatMouse
    Ebay is full of scammers anyway. I'm not sure if I'd trust buying anything. Someone is selling a graphics card STOCK PHOTO for $900+
    Nvidia Geforce 3080 Founders Edition stock photo

    You will be receiving a digital photo of the Nvidia Geforce 3080 and nothing else.
    No refunds.
    Picture will be sent via email
    This auction is to combat bot purchases!
    Video card is not included!

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Nvidia-Geforce-RTX-3080-Founders-Edition-1-Day-Auction-stock-photo/143871028792?hash=item217f61ae38:g:PH0AAOSwcJhfyQha
    Reply
  • x_elusiv_x
    Admin said:
    A recent post from Reddit’s r/AMD forum proposes a new strategy for using bots to make scalping obsolete.

    Bot Wars: Enthusiasts Fight eBay Scalper Listings with False, Automated Bids : Read more
    Great article. Maybe next time you could actually define what your talking about before assuming that every reader here knows what you mean by scalping.
    Reply
  • sstanic
    Nice article (y)
    Reply
  • escksu
    spongiemaster said:
    Wouldn't they have to pay the absurd bid they made before that was possible? Why would the scalper not ship at that point?

    From what I know. you can leave feedback as soon as auction is over.
    Reply
  • Awev
    More years ago than I care to remember I took a class on lithographic offset printing. I learned why they call it laundering money - an experiment to try, throw some freshly printed 25% cotton paper into a dryer with a roll of quarters. My instructor wanted to make sure we knew what to look for, so we could notify the authorities if we saw anything that looked like that. Don't want your co-workers or fellow students passing counterfeit money. Just another public service announcement helping educate the public so they know what they are looking at, and can report it to the authorities properly.
    Reply