How To Spot Shill Bidding on eBay

Welcome once again to another of my eBay artilcles. This week I have decided to take a look at shill bidders and what you can do to spot them. Shill bidding is a major problem on eBay and can cost you a lot of money, chances are that you have already been a victim of shill bidding without you even know it!

Anyway enough chit chat, here is my latest article below:-

If you are a user of eBay then the chances are, that you have already come across the term “shill bidding”. Shill bidding, is bidding that is used to artificially inflate the price of a certain item. Shill bidding usually takes place when the seller of an item wishes to increase the price, or generate interest in the item. The seller would usually get a friend or family member to bid on the item in question so that it looks like the item is more popular than it actually is, sometimes the seller may also use a second eBay account to increase the price of the item.

Shill bidding is prohibited by eBay and rightfully so. In my time I have been the victim of a shill bidding eBay scam. I was bidding on a digital camera and was surprised to see the price increase dramatically every time I made a bid, each bid that I made was followed by a new bid from an eBay user without any feedback. I thought this was very strange so I contacted eBay, they confirmed to me that the seller was using a second account to increase the price of the item, in the hopes that I would keep bidding and be made to pay a higher price. The listing was pulled by eBay and the seller had both of their accounts suspended. I was lucky but unfortunately many others are not so fortunate.

Shill bidding is a huge problem on eBay and you may have already been a victim of this scam without even realising it! Hopefully after reading this guide you will be able to spot if a shill bidder is bidding on one of your auctions.

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The first step to take if you feel you have been a victim of shill bidding is to look at the “Bidders List” for the item that you are bidding on. Usually an account that is used for shill bidding will have very little, if any feedback. The account could even have been created within the last 30 days with the sole intention of shill bidding for the seller, you can see if the member is new as they will have a small orange icon next to their user ID.

You should also do some research into the sellers other sales. Look at the sellers other sales via their feedback profile and see if the shill bidder was bidding on those items as well. If the shill bidder was bidding then the chances are that the seller is using a second account, or the account of a friend to shill bid.

Finally, another favoured method to spot a shill bidder is to look at how much the bids are increasing by. Usually a shill bidder will only place a “Nibbler” bid, this is a bid that is only slightly higher than your bid but then puts the impetuous on you to bid on the item again. The shill bidder will keep on bidding until you stop, they will then retract their final bid leaving you to pay for the item at a higher price than you should have paid!

If you believe that you have been a victim of a shill bidding scam or think that an eBay member may be shill bidding then you need to contact eBay. You can contact eBay using the contact form on their site, if eBay finds that the user has indeed been shill bidding then the all of the accounts associated with the shill bidder will be suspended.

The End 🙂

I hope that you liked the article, I spent a couple of hours putting it altogether. It was definatly one of the hardest subjects for me to research but I hope I have given you some valuable information. Pick an easier subject for me next time 🙂

As always I will be reading the comments you leave and will do my best to reply to them all. So if you have any feelings (good or bad) for my newsletters please let me know!

Until next week,

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10 Responses to “How To Spot Shill Bidding on eBay”
  1. lisa says:


    i had never heard the term “shill”, however the idea that someone would be so low down as to do such a thing was always in my mind when i bid. thanks for the ideas how to spot i will in future use them and hope other people use this information to help spot these idiots who spoil the whole idea of ebay.

    thanks again

  2. Dan (el_passo) says:

    Hi Lisa,

    To be honest I had never heard of the term “shill” before I started on eBay.

    I suppose giving it a correct term makes it sound better than just:

    “Bidding on your own items with the intention of raising the price for a legitimate buyer” 🙂

  3. Tom Fairley says:

    Hi Dan

    Thanks for your very informative article, lots of people use “sweetners” in market auctions etc, but the most dangerous and difficult to spot is the person who bids with no intention of buying, the few who are caught at this caper are just the tip of a dangerous iceberg, sure, they are inflating the price on an unsuspecting buyer and seller but killing the honest auction process. Just last week I bid a very fair price on a digital camera, the bidding stopped at double my valuation and a few days later the vendors of the article contacted me to say that they were putting the item on again because of non payment. Immediately one thinks of the many scams when contacted like this, but sure enough the item is on again. Thank you for raising and airing a very important ethical point.
    Kind regards

  4. Nick says:

    Thanks for the article, I have always known this but never knew of this having a specific name. Thanks again.

  5. alma says:

    Hi Dan,
    Nice article. I have been a victim of these schilling bidders. Now, that i have read your article, hmmm, watch out, schilling bidders!!!! I am learning 🙂 Thanks Dan and thanks for your many help. More power!

  6. mitch says:

    great article Dan,
    But i would like to point out one thing,I was an ebay seller , I even became an ebay power seller. What I do want to point out is even though I knew it was wrong i did it , now before anyones judges anyone it wasnt to make loads of money off any one person it was because I screwed up in pricing a couple of times and anyone here knows that once you set a price you cant change it once there is a bid. that was my case i was just trying to make changes with my girlfreinds account which she only used once in awhile to buy things. So beware if you set a price that isnt right you better hope there are no bids so you can change it, otherwise you could go broke. Just be carefull. Oh and just in case anyone looks and finds that blaisfamily is not running is not cause I screwed up which i did, its because i did comply with all ebays rules and regulations to reinstate my account , they suspened me indefintly because I let them know how long they take to get back to emails (weeks). Ebay didnt like hearing the truth.
    But yeah everybody here reading all this be careful what you put in your adds, you might not be able to change your mistakes.
    Mitch (blaisfamily)

  7. Hi Dan, Great Article, it’s good to know somebody out there (You) is letting people know of these “Low lifers” who pray on the naive.
    I have not heard the term “shill” before either – but every thing has a name I guess. It happened to me – not on ebay – but at a “Vehicle Auction” when we lived in Canada, the guy was standing close to me aswell and it did not even click at the time, shows you that when you want something so badly (as long as it’s within your budget) you’ll stop at nothing untill you get it! I didn’t find out untill a few months later that this guy was a “dealer” but it was too late by then. Life goes on!
    Keep up the good work Dan. All the best, John.

  8. Samira says:

    Hi Thank you for the article, i’m new to ebay, my husband and i were looking for a car to bid on, we started at £12000 and in a 2/3 minutes were up to £20500!! i looked at the bids and found myself bidding against an automated service, it just wouldn’t stop so i retracted my bid, which i think was fair if i wanted a car at 20k i would go to my dealer around the corner! it happened again with designer sunglasses but after bidding 2 times I stopped at the price that i could afford and i did get them as a second chance! So I guess shill bidders are there whether for expensive product or even small items, Beware!! A part from that happy bidding everyone, try be smarter than them…

  9. It’s hard to be smarter than those “Lowlifes” – but not impossible.
    We just have to keep our wits about us and be disciplined.
    Do not get carried away – You decide how much You want to pay for an Item (Check simillar products and what the final selling price was).
    Also check out their “About me” page – “Other Sellers Items” – “Feedback” etc… Godbless, John.

  10. ebuster says:

    Good news that the trading standards made it’s first conviction against Paul Barrett for shill bidding on ebay and to think it only took them 12 years so you never know they might just manage one fraud conviction this year and this makes you ask what are we paying taxes when the trading standards provides is allowed to provide such a poor level of service.

    eBuster has been asked to find members of the public that live in the UK who would like to take part in a live debate with ebay about shill bidding and can be contacted on the ‘Contact us’ page on eBuster,co,uk