Both an oboe and a bassoon have been fraudulently listed for auction with the online marketplace, eBay recently. The seller typically refuses to respond to any inquiries about the instrument until the auction has ended. Computer problems or being out of town are the usual explanations given to bidders who are then offered the opportunity to purchase the instrument with a money order.

If you happen to belong to the International Double Reed Society (IDRS) and also subscribe to their listserv, you are lucky enough to have the watchful eyes of its members who notice the scam. Brian Charles of Charles Double Reed Company indicated the fraudulent bassoon listing on eBay was the exact description and picture of an instrument genuinely for sale through his website. “Thankfully, [someone] noticed … and let me know about it.”

Apparently the oboe scam has been listed several times over the past 6 months. The same oboe that appeared last month on eBay has appeared again. The same instruments are also showing up for sale through eBay in the UK .

There are some steps you can take to protect yourself from these scams, even if you don’t belong to the IDRS. eBay identifies the history of its users, both sellers and bidders, with a  series of colored stars, allowing any participant in the bidding system to check the history of the other party, together with verbatim quotes relating to the entire history. A seller with hundreds of satisfied customers are a good sign things will go well. If the seller has no significant history, you're certainly taking a chance.  Also, look at the usernames of some bidders. IDRS members who catch a scam auction often place a bid as “this_is_a_scam” or “fraud_alert-buyer_beware!!!” While many good, used instruments can be genuinely purchased on Ebay, take a moment to click the links to see who is selling you the item or merely a bill-of-goods.

eBay Instrument Fraud

“Thankfully, [someone] noticed … and let me know about it.”

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