What gives on eBay regarding shill bots?

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What gives on eBay regarding shill bots?

Postby mattysan » Sun Apr 21, 2019 8:39 pm

I think in the last month or two alone I have had the following happen to me on eBay auctions. I don't bid on much; almost all Transformers, but for me it seems exclusive to Transformers:

- Bidding happens early, I jump in
- Normal bidders leading up to the final hour or so
- All of a sudden I get beat, put another bid in, beat again.
- As the price gets close to what I am willing to pay, the other person bids higher than even some other listings are currently going for Buy It Now
- I look at the bid history and some jackhole with < 5 feedback is now bidding everyone out
- Auction ends, I lose
- A few days later either I get a second chance offer or the item is re-listed. Some have been re-listed 3 or more times

This is on the surface shill bidding, but it's happening on such a large amount of sellers with good feedback that I don't believe it can possibly be the sellers unless everyone has turned into a scumbag all at once. What is up? It's almost too calculated to be a person but rather a bot...but what the hell would anyone get out of this? Unless it's eBay itself. I've reported a few of these items but is everyone else experiencing this?
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Re: What gives on eBay regarding shill bots?

Postby Nathaniel Prime » Mon Apr 22, 2019 5:01 am

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I believe this is called "sniping", where at the last second, someone bids a larger amount to take the kill.

I know, it sucks, and it seems unfair, but eBay can't do anything about it.

I'm not sure if bots are involved. They could be, but right now, I know for sure that people do it.
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Re: What gives on eBay regarding shill bots?

Postby william-james88 » Mon Apr 22, 2019 8:40 pm

That is wierd, but I tend to avoid that by always placing my highest bid right away, days before the listing ends. if I dont get it, so be it.
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Re: What gives on eBay regarding shill bots?

Postby Burn » Mon Apr 22, 2019 10:12 pm

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Nathaniel Prime wrote:I believe this is called "sniping", where at the last second, someone bids a larger amount to take the kill.

I know, it sucks, and it seems unfair, but eBay can't do anything about it.

I'm not sure if bots are involved. They could be, but right now, I know for sure that people do it.

It's a little bit more than sniping. There's nothing wrong with sniping, if eBay wanted to do something about it they could set the system up so last minute bids extend the auction a little longer.

He's talking about accounts coming along and pushing the bids up, as they're obviously fake accounts, the sale falls through and the item is re-listed.

I'd be very surprised if the seller wasn't involved in those accounts in some way.
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Re: What gives on eBay regarding shill bots?

Postby ScottyP » Thu Apr 25, 2019 9:03 am

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If you get a second chance offer on something that went weirdly high, it could be shill bidding or it could just be some a-hole (or kid with mom's iPhone) that didn't have the money in the first place that made the bid.

william-james88 wrote:That is wierd, but I tend to avoid that by always placing my highest bid right away, days before the listing ends. if I dont get it, so be it.
This is what I did in the past, and it does not work. When you do this and aren't immediately outbid, you increase the chances of someone throwing in another buck or two more than they normally would have over the course of however much time is remaining. It makes no sense to bid outside of the closing seconds of an ebay auction. If you can't be online when it ends and it's so important you don't want to miss it, use esnipe.
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Re: What gives on eBay regarding shill bots?

Postby Glarryg » Thu Apr 25, 2019 9:34 am

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Well, I see the wisdom in what WJ does regarding setting your highest bid and leaving it alone. You don't want to get caught up in the excitement of the auction process and end up paying more than you planned, especially if it's not a "must-have" item. Let's face it, none of the stuff we collect is truly "must-have," and these things come and go all the time. I finally got my hands on a Timelines Chromedome just a few months ago, and that figure was made nearly five years ago.

In general, though, I tend to wait until the last day or two to bid, depending on what time of the week it is and whether I'm willing to out-snipe a sniper for something rarer. I mean, it is an auction, after all; there's no hard and fast rule for any of this, which--getting to the point of the original post--is why defending against shill bots is going to be difficult. I haven't experienced it myself yet, but lately I've been mostly looking for older figures. What types of items are you being out-shilled for?

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Re: What gives on eBay regarding shill bots?

Postby william-james88 » Thu Apr 25, 2019 9:41 am

ScottyP wrote:
william-james88 wrote:That is wierd, but I tend to avoid that by always placing my highest bid right away, days before the listing ends. if I dont get it, so be it.
This is what I did in the past, and it does not work. When you do this and aren't immediately outbid, you increase the chances of someone throwing in another buck or two more than they normally would have over the course of however much time is remaining. It makes no sense to bid outside of the closing seconds of an ebay auction.


Maybe things changed, but when I was more active on e-bay in 2014, this is the technique I used and it always worked for me, both in terms of deals and less frustration. Basically I purchase all the possible deals. No one but me will get this product at a price I consider a deal. I may pay more than I would have but I never pay more than I want to and thats what matters most to me.
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Re: What gives on eBay regarding shill bots?

Postby Burn » Thu Apr 25, 2019 3:19 pm

Motto: "Freedom is the right of all sentient beings to randomly click things in the Admin Panel to see what it breaks."
william-james88 wrote:
ScottyP wrote:
william-james88 wrote:That is wierd, but I tend to avoid that by always placing my highest bid right away, days before the listing ends. if I dont get it, so be it.
This is what I did in the past, and it does not work. When you do this and aren't immediately outbid, you increase the chances of someone throwing in another buck or two more than they normally would have over the course of however much time is remaining. It makes no sense to bid outside of the closing seconds of an ebay auction.


Maybe things changed, but when I was more active on e-bay in 2014, this is the technique I used and it always worked for me, both in terms of deals and less frustration. Basically I purchase all the possible deals. No one but me will get this product at a price I consider a deal. I may pay more than I would have but I never pay more than I want to and thats what matters most to me.

But what you're doing could still be done in the last few minutes. It's how I snipe.

I pick a value of what I want to pay (including postage) then in the last minute or so I put that bid in. If I get outbid, so be it.

It's still the same, just the timing is different and I increase my chances of winning.
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Re: What gives on eBay regarding shill bots?

Postby D-Maximal_Primal » Thu Apr 25, 2019 5:52 pm

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If I am not going to be around, I set a max I will pay for that listing, and if I lose, so be it.

But my preferred tactic is to wait until 12 seconds left, enter my max bid, and go, it gives the other people involved almost no time to react if they are outbid.

As for the listings going back up, is there a minimum bid required? I have won a few auctions where there was a minimum that needed reached, so the item was relisted since we didn't reach it.
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Re: What gives on eBay regarding shill bots?

Postby mattysan » Tue Jun 18, 2019 10:02 am

bad_bids.png


So here is a much better example of what I am talking about. I really don't understand the point in having an outside, unconnected party doing this. See the attached photo. This is all from a single seller...all Beast Wars items..Ultra Meg, Ultra Tigerhawk, Ultra Rampage, Transmetals (Meg, Dinobot, etc.). Some of the prices are just crazy. Are people hiring some outside party to have bots that do this? You'd think you'd set a reasonable max bid limit in order to make it seem realistic. This has been happening more and more frequently on Transformers auctions over the last 6 months. Super annoying...I hate to think its the sellers but what other explanation is there? How is this a *fun* hacky thing to do?

Anybody else seen this trend or had this happen to them? Again, in the past, when this has happened to me I very frequently received a "Second chance" offer afterward. I reported all of these as suspicious today.
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Re: What gives on eBay regarding shill bots?

Postby TF-fan kev777 » Tue Jun 18, 2019 12:28 pm

mattysan wrote:Anybody else seen this trend or had this happen to them? Again, in the past, when this has happened to me I very frequently received a "Second chance" offer afterward. I reported all of these as suspicious today.


What I'm seeing may actually be just normal bidding, or it could be a shill bidder, it is really hard to tell without knowing if the winning bidder for the auctions you showed ended up paying or not. If you do get a second chance offer, then I would assume it is most likely a shill bidder that drove the price up. But I would highly doubt that someone would hire an outside party to do this. All they have to do is simply create another ebay account as sort of a burner account that they don't mind if they get flagged for not paying.

However, keep in mind that many people (myself included) use a strategy of only bidding within the last few minutes of the auction. This can lead to someone pushing it higher and higher if they don't have a maximum in mind and get caught up in the rush of having to "win", been there, done that. From the very limited info you can access about the bids, this strategy will look just like most of these auctions will, so it can be very tough to tell just from the bid history whether or not someone is shill bidding the price up.

Using your very first auction as an example, you made your max bid on June 17th. _***l made their winning bid on June 18, at 7:51. If there was a shill, it would have been m***h who made their multiple bids last out of the 3 of you. However, what we don't know is how high _***l made their max bid. They won the item for $255, but could have had a much higher max bid, we'll never know, the seller won't even know.

Now, after _***l outbid you, the auction price would be at 102.50, not his winning bid. Once m***h entered their $150 bid, _***l automatically went up to 152.50 or $155 (I'm not sure when the minimum changes from $2.50 to $5). All 5 bids from m***h would have pushed _***l's winning bid up to the next bid over m***h. So the winning bid can be made earlier and the bidder driving up the price.

The more I look at all the auctions you've posted, I think both m***h and _***l are probably legit. Keep in mind you are looking into rather niche collectibles. Chances are anyone else looking at those items are also looking at a similar range of items and are basically your competition for all the auctions you posted. So you will generally have the same 4-5 people bidding on the same items you are looking at.
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Re: What gives on eBay regarding shill bots?

Postby mattysan » Tue Jun 18, 2019 1:03 pm

I typically bid the same way as you normally, but I'm telling you, this is a trend and this is shill bidding. The $255 one in the top left corner is a Beast Wars Ultra class Megatron. There are currently 2 others listed for $165 in the same condition. I see these auctions frequently grossly overpay and then get re-listed.

I did not post all of the listings from this one seller here; there are a few others. Right now it looks like that one bidder is buying $1500 worth of Beast Wars items all at once? Why not wait for a lot and get it much cheaper. Also, like I said, vastly overpaying. You said these were niche items...so I would assume only knowledgeable buyers would be trying to purchase them. Why would a knowledgeable buyer overpay like that? It doesn't make any sense.

Also, this is not an isolated incident. This is my new bidding process that I have adopted since seeing this trend 6 months ago:

1) If it's not a super popular item, I do what you do; I wait until the very end when there are 0 to 1-bid and try to snag it at the last second
2) If I think it might be popular item I lay a small stake in early
3) If it is popular and has a decent Buy It Now, I bid early so someone else doesn't snag it with the Buy It Now.
4) When I do #2 or #3 and I get outbid, I look at the bidder list. If I see these accounts with 0-10 feedback I immediately go to my max...and I get outbid. I then sometimes take a risk and bid $10-$20 more because I know it's a shill bidder...and sure enough, it goes well beyond even my max.

Something is definitely up. Whether its the sellers or, even worse, eBay doing this to get people to move to doing more Buy It Now auctions...something is up. I guarantee you these will get re-listed and that with a little effort I could go find a bunch of listings getting re-listed after these bidders show up (I thought I showed that in the OP).
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Re: What gives on eBay regarding shill bots?

Postby mattysan » Sun Jul 28, 2019 9:17 pm

https://www.cio.com/article/2369962/att ... rices.html

This seems to pretty much validate what’s been happening to me although I suspect these days it’s a bot doing the work and the cost is far less.

This is still happening to me left and right. I reported about half a dozen auctions from a single seller where all auctions had the same zero-feedback user put an extremely high price on the item after normal bidding had started and towards the end of the auction. Sellers like this should just price fairly according to market demand and use Buy It Now rather than put up these stupid fake auctions that waste everyone’s time.
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