Scammers are always trying new tricks to trip up their victims and get people to spend money on their schemes. One new shopping scam is making the rounds now, and many experts have warned shoppers to keep their eyes peeled for these phony listings.
The newest fake listings on secondhand sites like eBay involve resellers claiming they have early preorders for the new Steam Deck video game console. The scammers claim to have gotten their order in early enough that they’re “guaranteed” a December 2021 shipping date on the system. These listings are offered at rates much higher than the MSRP for the unit sold, with the scammers hoping to turn a tidy profit on the “preorder” they’re offering.
This is a shopping scam, not a preorder. Sites like eBay will take these kinds of listings down due to violating their terms of service. Preorder listings can’t be placed in eBay’s case unless the order will ship within 30 days. As such, these bogus Steam Deck listings will be pulled from the site in the coming days.
However, even if these devices weren’t half a year away from releasing, these would still be scam listings. The practice of purchasing sought-after goods and then immediately flipping them for much more money than they’re worth is called “scalping,” and it’s become all too common.
The practice of scalping has become extremely popular among internet scammers who want to make a quick buck. Most scalpers use automated scripts on their computers to buy sought-after items, like new video game systems, extremely quickly. These “bot” scripts can navigate through the checkout screens much faster than a human can, allowing scalpers to buy up tons of products before legitimate buyers can even load the webpage.
After soaking up all of the legitimate supply, scalpers then turn to secondhand sites like eBay to offload their haul. This can be a highly lucrative cycle for many scalpers, as they take in huge profits and then turn those profits to the next anticipated hardware release.
Avoiding scalpers is tough: buyers need to be ready to pounce on new hardware releases when their preorders go live. If you miss the opening window, the odds are good that you’ll be unable to find items like Steam Decks or PlayStation 5 systems in stock. While these scams are frustrating, they’re not technically illegal, which makes combating them extremely difficult.