Generally speaking, I'm not a suspicious person. I like to believe that people are generally good and trustworthy. However, in the past week, I have read about two different scams within our rather small doll collecting community. In one, the scammer uses someone else's valid Ebay ID as a reference, and then sells dolls that he or she does not actually own, ripping off the buyer. If the buyer hasn't sent the money as a gift, at least she is covered by Paypal's protection program. But what's particularly bad is that the scammer is dragging perfectly innocent bystanders' names through the mud.
In another developing scam, someone has been using another collector's photos of limited edition Kim Lasher and Kaye Wiggs ball-jointed dolls on Ebay for outrageous prices (possibly including shell bidding, but you can't really tell, as the auctions are set up as private auctions), apparently without actually owning the dolls--at least not the dolls shown in the photos.
The doll collecting community is a small world, but that doesn't mean scams are uncommon. Especially when it comes to buying and selling dolls, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself:
- Ask for feedback references. Don't forget about the Doll Community Feedback Forum. When checking Ebay feedback, make sure you check the user's location. If they have current listings, you can also check their city (not just the country). Don't be afraid to ask for email references of a few people they have done business with in the past. Or ask on your favorite message boards.
- Don't forget to leave feedback on the Doll Community Feedback Forum (or Ebay) when your transaction is complete.
- Never send Paypal payments as a gift. You will lose buyer protection* if you do, and you can't get your money back if your doll isn't delivered. Cover the cost of the fees if you have to, but don't send the payment as a gift.
- If you're the seller, always insure your packages. It's only a little additional cost, and it will save you a lot of hassle. This way you can be sure your buyer indeed receives what she has ordered.
- If you are buying a one-of-a-kind or limited edition doll, it doesn't hurt to ask around about it on message boards. [The artist might recognize her work and notice that something isn't quite right.] Questions like, "Who did the face-up?" or "Who made the outfit?" will always help. Or asking the seller for additional photos (like of the BJD's signed head cap) might also assure that the seller is actually in possession of the doll.
*NOTE: I just saw some comments on a Yahoo message group I follow about Paypal's Buyer Protection. It's only valid for 45 days, and often when you buy a BJD, a doll preorder or a commission, you have to wait longer than that. In that case, it's wise to pay with a credit card (and not a balance in your Paypal account or your checking account), so you then have double coverage from your credit card as well.