A scammer selling items they never had is a far too common occurence on eBay and will probably be a problem that can never be fully eradicated.
However, eBay, are proactive in terms of making things harder for the dishonest on their site. In the past, as now, a scammer needed to build up a good feedback profile before being “trustworthy” enough to “sell” his high value item(s).
As times have changed so have the procedures involved in making purchases, making it slower for those determined to build a quick feedback total. The way the scammer gets feedback remains the same – buying items for a penny from the multitude of sellers who are basically selling feedback in order to boost their own credibility rating on eBay.
However, instead of quickly going through listings by hand they now employ “bots” to do it for them. The bot will trawl the site, automatically purchasing all the buy it now penny listings it can find.
Funnily enough, a lot of the sellers offering these deals are also operating their own bots in order to process the deal and leave automatic feedback. So bot 2 bot feedback trading allows the scammer to build his feedback in next to no time, often with multiple accounts at a time.
He then uses this credible account to offer high value goods he doesn’t have at low prices, walking onto the next user id as soon as he has collected on his scam.
Whilst nothing is proven, it may well be that the feedback giving bots are also controlled by a network of scammers, thereby making it a highly organised ring of co-conspirators.
Personally, when buying anything of value on eBay, I always research the seller’s feedback, looking at what exactly he has bought and sold before. If it is solely penny or other low value items then alarm bells are going to be ringing!