The latest Chinese eBay scam; a Chinese Seller operating 36 eBay accounts, has 25 VAT numbers and prices that are too good to be true.
We noticed this best selling Desktop Mobile Phone Stand on eBay for £3.99 including delivery. This product would be impossible to sell for £3.99 if the correct VAT, postal rate, fulfilment charges, import duty & import delivery was charged. A second class stamp alone would cost £2.71 to send it because it is “packet” size. So we did some digging and here is what is going on:
Item location: Liverpool
It’s not from Liverpool at all, it’s dispatched from China. We know as we ordered one. It took 9 days to get here, it had a CN22 Customs label on back & a Royal Mail LVCR Label.
eBay’s estimated delivery time for this item is 8 to 12 Days. Our order took 9 days to arrive. The seller offers a “Next Day” delivery service for £200.00. eBay’s estimated delivery time on that is 6 days. So its not really a “Next Day” service.
Postal Service & Rates:
Royal Mail offer Chinese Sellers a super cheap bespoke mail service where orders are picked up in China in bulk and fast tracked by plane into Heathrow, where Royal Mail pops them in the mail system at their international sorting depot at Heathrow Airport. The package is now treated just like it has been posted in the UK. It also gets a tracking number when it arrives in the UK.
Royal Mail will not provide any information to us on what price they charge for this service. Whatever it is, we feel it amounts to state aid financial help that distorts fair competition. which is illegal under EU Law (https://www.out-law.com/en/topics/eu–competition/state-aid1/-introduction-to-state-aid/).
Due to recent changes in regulations an Overseas Online Retailer listing items located in the UK must display a VAT number. So for the scam to work the seller needs a VAT number. Luckily HMRC make it very easy for Chinese to register for VAT. In most cases the VAT number will be registered in a persons name rather than a company name. This allows the seller to register multiply VAT numbers. They will normally register the VAT numbers in their staffs names.
Because the item is actually sent from China using Bulk LVCR, no VAT is charged and the seller gains a 20% price advantage. When it comes to making VAT returns, zero declaration will be made.
We took a look at similar items sold by different seller accounts; all were too good to be true prices.
We noticed that all the items had the same item location, estimated delivery times, exactly the same descriptions & images. All the listings had exactly the same spelling mistake; “1. We ship to your eBay adress.We only ship to United Kingdom.”
Here are the items:
Most of the sellers eBay accounts have completely different contact details & VAT numbers. However what did strike us is that all the VAT numbers were registered to 3 addresses
- 25 GOODLASS ROAD LIVERPOOL MERSEYSIDE L24 9HJ
- 24 GOODALL ROAD LONDON GREATER LONDON E11 4EP
- HM REVENUE AND CUSTOMS RUBY HOUSE 8 RUBY PLACE ABERDEEN AB10 1ZP
Seller Negative Feedback:
Together the sellers accounts get over 70,000 feedback a month, with over 2,500 being negative. Some accounts are getting over 200 negative feedback a month.
This seller is doing a serious amount of business to gain 70,000 reviews a month.
The feedback is littered with eBay customer complaints like this:
- Yet another company claiming UK based but not China? Sort them out Ebay
- Item was sent from china despite saying Liverpool
- Buyer beware items from china not UK as stated in listings long long wait
- DO NOT BUY FROM THIS SELLER, NOT IN UK BUT CHINA, SCAMMERS!!
- Stated located in Liverpool UK However located in China.
- Rabbit toy made out of glue and polystyrene? And shipped from China!!
- Items do not come from UK, they come from China and take almost two weeks!
- Scam, Not UK based seller, took 3 week to arrive from UK, came from China!!!
- Not in Liverpool UK as listed. Sent from China.
- Item not dispatched on time and it was not shipped from UK but from China
We purchased several items from different accounts and several of the payments were being sent to a Hong Kong based company called CHINATERA LIMITED. The PayPal business details didn’t match the eBay business details.
36 eBay accounts & 25 VAT numbers:
Here is a list of all the seller’s eBay accounts and VAT numbers:
magicangels – GB 259420887
chaoliuline – GB 259420887
defuline – GB 259420887
weekseight – GB 259420887
wonderfullife2016 – GB 268527762
lidadawu_5 – GB 280720416
amazing-jin – GB 281004931
fantacy-jin – GB 281004931
vitawinter – GB 294474857
glenmady – GB 294475266
arilyales – GB 294480963
decforhouse – GB 295296357
kairun806 – GB 295299740
kang-xiaoming – GB 295301795
beauty-lady-uk – GB 295342384
fullhouse2017 – GB 295588242
lidingsale-1 – GB 295717949
shellaccessories – GB 295728158
houcity17 – GB 295768828
seacity17 – GB 295768828
licity17 – GB 295768828
yajadag – GB 298123675
aqpog – GB 298207372 – No Longer trading
apyzall – GB 298207372 – No Longer trading
sawseety – GB 298509351
xaoongy – GB 299063364
nicetype2016 – GB 299553147
fashioncenter2016 – GB 299619532
guofang86 – GB 300851346
zhuqinling – GB 303932720
limitay – GB 304066245
grazle – GB 304066245
sunseln – GB 304066245
front-tech – GB 305332542
ontop-tech – GB 305332542 – No longer trading
kairun806 – GB 295299740
We reported the seller to eBay but eBay has decided not to take action. eBay is happy to let this ‘bad actor’ to continue to dupe customers & put UK sellers out of business with their scam and too good to be true prices. UK sellers simply can’t compete on price when no VAT is charged and Royal Mail funds their post.
What we can’t understand is why eBay doesn’t do anything. This is exactly why eBay gets such a bad reputation.
What needs to done:
It is very obvious that we can’t rely on Online Marketplaces like eBay to take action against ‘bad actors’ on their Marketplaces.
The government needs to step in and ensure that legislation is put in place to stop this sort of bad practice by Marketplaces and scammers alike.