Consumer Alert

Don't be fooled by bogus "second chance" offers

Are you an eBay user? Have you ever been outbid on an item, then received a "second chance" offer to buy the item at your last bid price? The use of the "second chance" offer is a common form of internet auction fraud, and the Consumer Protection Unit warns consumers to be extremely cautious before responding to any second chance offers.

The elements of this fraud are simple. Scammers are constantly monitoring internet auction sites for sales of items that fit a specific profile. Higher priced items and items with lots of bids seem to be more attractive targets. After the end of the auction, the scammer will send you an e-mail, which will claim to come from the original seller, claiming that the high bidder failed to pay, or that the seller has more of the same item. The scammer then offers to sell you the item for the amount of your last bid.

To complete the transaction, the scammer will often direct you to a phony eBay site that looks official. This phony site will have all kinds of information to make it seem like this "second chance" is a legitimate offer. Usually it's not.

The official eBay site explains that a legitimate second chance offer must meet specific criteria, and how to tell if an offer is legitimate.

A seller can send a Second Chance Offer to any of the non-winning bidders if the winning bidder does not pay the seller, if a seller has duplicate items, or the reserve price is not met in a Reserve Price Auction.

To make sure a Second Chance Offer is legitimate:

  1. Go to www.ebay.com.
  2. Click My eBay at the top of the eBay Home page.
  3. Sign in and look for the Second Chance Offer in My Messages.

If the offer does not appear in your message box, it's not a legitimate Second Chance Offer. Also, eBay will never send a Second Chance Offer email with the subject line "Question from eBay Member." If you receive an email pretending to be a Second Chance Offer with that subject line, please report it to eBay.

Many phony Second Chance Offers can also be identified because the scammer will ask you to pay for the item with a wire transfer. This is generally an indication that the offer is a fraud.

You can set up your eBay account to not receive Second Chance Offers. Sign in to your account and under the "profile" section change your settings to not receive these offers if you have any doubts about how to separate the genuine offers from the scams.

Consumer Protection Unit
July 2006