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Scamming Scalpers? eBay Vigilantes Sell Pics of RTX 3060 Tis

eBay scams that try to trick unsuspecting, innocent people into spending all their hard-earned cash on a photo or an empty box are nothing new, but what about when those same scams are aimed at scalping bots? That’s the latest anti-bot trend to rise out of the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti launch, which like other Ampere cards before it, sold out within minutes of release thanks to bots buying up all the stock to resell at a markup on auction websites like eBay and stockX.

If you haven’t been paying attention to the tech enthusiast scene lately, 2020’s taken its toll on us too. This year’s seen plenty of fancy new hardware come out, from the new best graphics cards to the new best cpus to the next generation of game consoles, but only technically. For the average buyer, most of it might as well still be in development. That’s because bots run by resellers (colloquially known as scalpers) are buying up all the new, reasonably priced official stock and immediately selling it on aftermarket websites for markups that are as high as double the MSRP or more. 

This problem’s been around for a while, but 2020 has only made it worse. The pandemic means that most people can’t make trips to physical retail stores that bots can’t camp (yet), plus it’s hampered the amount of product manufacturers can actually put out. No one’s quite sure how to counter the Skynet revolution yet, but a few stores have tried staggered stock rollouts and, despite everything, in-store only pickup. Still, these solutions only slightly widen the availability net. Stock refreshes still sell out quickly, and in-store purchases are limited by area and the health/vulnerability of prospective buyers. Worse, because bot orders still earn stores money, they aren’t incentivized to put their all into fighting them. 

No wonder enthusiasts themselves have started a new arms race against scalpers to try to get their hands on the RTX 3000 series and Radeon RX 6000 series GPUs at fair prices.

So far, we’ve seen gamers build bots of their own to notify them when new stock comes in, plus bots that use burner accounts to place bogus, ludicrously high orders on eBay auctions to try to get them taken down. But the latest strategy we’ve seen enthusiasts adopt co-opts an age old scam to try to turn it back against scalpers: false eBay listings.

(Image credit: eBay)

Since eBay’s launch in 1995, customers have had to carefully read listings and descriptions when searching for hot ticket items. That’s because plenty of major purchases come with a number of suspiciously cheap auctions that are actually just selling physical/emailed photos or empty boxes instead of the items in the listing’s picture or name. We’ve seen it with the PS5, the RTX 3080 and even the older Xbox 360. And now we’re seeing it with the RTX 3060 Ti, but in a different light.

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