“Can I sell my eBay Account?” Yes, but you shouldn’t. Here’s why….
“Can I sell my eBay account?”
Theoretically, yes, you can, but the correct question is “Should you?” and the answer to that is a definite “NO”.
I got scammed massively after selling my account, but there are lots of potential problems you can have if you sell your eBay account.
Reasons NOT to Buy or Sell an eBay Account
- It’s against eBay T’s & C’s and they can delete the account (read more here)
- eBay accounts contain a lot of personal and financial information about the owner
- eBay is frequented by scam buyers and scam sellers
The buying and selling of eBay accounts is prohibited by eBay policy, but the buying and selling of businesses is allowed, so if an eBay shop is part of a business, it can be transferred from one party to another without violating eBay policy.
I have read elsewhere on the web that if you buy a business which includes an eBay account, eBay will even help you to transfer it into your name.
I haven’t verified this for myself and this is slightly off topic, because buying an account is one thing, but selling an eBay account is much riskier.
I recently made the mistake of selling one of my old accounts and it caused me a lot of problems, particularly:
- Unable to sell anything on any of my eBay accounts for 2 months
- Caused eBay accounts of my family members to be restricted for selling
- Destroyed the rating of an 8 year old account with 700+ feedback
- Landed me with a £900 bill for eBay fees
- Had nearly £500 taken from my bank account when I could least afford it
How I Came to Sell My eBay Account
I was first approached around five years earlier (2015) by someone wanting to buy the eBay account which I was using to run my coin shop. At that time I was very active buying and selling old coins and I didn’t really want to part with it.
The hopeful buyer was well spoken an introduced himself over the phone as someone who bought and sold eBay accounts for profit.
I had a business eBay account with a registered UK Limited company for that business and I was allowed to list over 5,300 items up to £132,000 in value per month, which ever came first.
He explained that people in retail were often looking to expand on to eBay and didn’t want to build up their business slowly online and were willing to pay a premium for an account with high selling limits and good feedback ratings.
I decided against selling on that occasion because it was my first ever business and probably the most successful it had been at any point. I had no idea at that time it was so dangerous or against eBay policy.
Five years later, during the Covid lockdown I got a text message along the lines of:
“Hi, I contacted you a few years ago about buying your eBay account – are you still interested in selling?”
At that particular point in time I had just been furloughed and was facing a very uncertain financial future. The rear suspension on my car had just broken and I was desperate for cash, but also needed to buy a car.
I had not used that account for years and it also had a different name, after I had used it for another project. The business it was attached to no longer existed and none of my payment information was still in the account (or so I thought).
It seemed as if all my prayers were answered! After a day or two the buyer paid me by Bank Transfer, once we had agreed terms and how it would all be transferred.
What Happened After I Sold My eBay Account
The buyer said that they would not change all of the personal / business information in the account over straight away as it was a dead giveaway to eBay that the account had been bought.
They said that a couple of details would change on the first day and then a few more over the next few weeks.
Then the buyer listed two items.
One was a collectable trading card, another was an activation code for Microsoft Office, only in German.
The sales soon started flying in – I wasn’t logged into that account on eBay anymore, but it was still connected to my email address, which wasn’t part of the sale.
By the time eBay restricted the account, I counted more than 500 sales of around 6 Euros each.
The buyer had set up an auto-responder of some kind to email a Microsoft office key to a buyer as soon as they paid.
I did a little digging and found that the autoresponder software could be set up for less than $1 per item sold and the MS office keys themselves could be bought in bulk for $2 each.
The person who bought the eBay account had turned it into a cash machine, making 50 sales per day at it’s peak.
In less than two weeks he managed to turn over nearly £3,000 worth of sales, mostly from one listing, the MS Office activation key.
I reckoned that after costs and fees, he had made about £1,000 of profit, apparently on autopilot.
As the sales notification emails flew in, I started to notice more and more questions from eBay customers, in German, asking for refunds, or replacement keys because the one they bought didn’t work.
Amongst the alerts were also negative feedback notifications and poor seller performance notifications.
A few times the item was taken down by eBay, seemingly because it was getting a lot of refund requests, but it was quickly replaced and would begin generating sales again.
After two weeks the sales stopped and I saw a notification from eBay for a MC011 notice – every eBay sellers’ worst nightmare – this is when eBay puts a restriction on your account and prevents you from selling anything.
Worse than that, it will also affect any account that eBay deems to be linked to the affected account.
In this case, it was my other two accounts, my wife’s account and even my Mother-in-Law’s account, despite her living in an entirely different country!
If it had just been that account which had been affected I wouldn’t have minded because I had sold it fair and square and those problems were now his problems; but that wasn’t the case.
His problems were now affecting me and my family, so I messaged him and he played dumb, then stopped answering any messages.
Uncovering the Scam
I decided to try getting back into the account and found that the buyer hadn’t even changed the password. Virtually all of the information was as I had left it, apart from a post code which the scammer had changed to match his real one, to stop him falling foul of eBay / Paypal fraud detection.
I also found that I he had accrued £896 worth of eBay fees in my name, nearly £600 of which was from promoting listings, which can add up to 20% of the sale price when maxed out, which it was.
The buyer had not entered his own information into the eBay account info and had clearly never intended to do so, hence why the fees foe each item were so high.
He paid me via a UK business bank account so I looked it up on Companies House to find that it had been bought by him in April of 2020 and sold the day after the MC011 restrictions were issued by eBay.
This convinced me that he had been out to scam me from the very beginning and that I had to take matters in to my own hands, so I decided to phone eBay.
Getting the MC011 restriction lifted
The MC011 restriction can happen for several reasons, but it comes in the form of an email within the eBay messaging system and gives you reasons why it happened and a way of getting it lifted.
The MC011 stated that my selling activity had been unusual and that I needed to submit tracking numbers for the items I had sold and provide some evidence / receipts to prove that I had bought them.
At this point I phoned eBay and I was completely honest with them and told them that I had sold the account and they put me through to a member of the security team, who told me the following:
“Selling your account is a violation of eBay policy and we can’t help you with this. You must contact the person who bought your account and ask them to rectify the problem.”
Obviously I was completely devastated by this because the buyer (scammer) had ghosted me and was never going to help me in a million years.
I still had 2 major problems – effectively a life-time ban from selling on eBay for me and my family – plus a £900 bill which I couldn’t afford to pay.
As I still had control of the account I went back in and started to refund or cancel every transaction, as each time I did it, the amount owed to eBay reduced a little, and the refunds were coming from the source (the paypal of the scammer) not my account.
This worked for some transactions, but less than half of them, so I decided to ring eBay again.
This time I omitted to mention that I had sold the account, but still told the truth in that I had been scammed and that someone else had made all of these listings.
eBay were a lot more helpful this time and started the process of recovering the account and cancelling the transactions.
This was not a straightforward process and it took 10 phone calls over a period of two weeks. Each time something would happen, but not everything and I would need to call back again.
One problem was the size of the amount – almost £900.
eBay customer service is partitioned into many different units and spread over several countries, so sometimes I was speaking to the USA, Ireland or India.
Most of the customer service responders could not or would not make refunds for more than $100, so I found myself being ping-ponged around the internal eBay phone system, between people who had authority to do things like that and people who were actually in the right department to do it.
I was assured that no money would be taken from my Paypal account ( I also believed, incorrectly, that it was no longer connected to that eBay shop) but when invoice time rolled around I had £410 taken from my account by eBay for fees incurred by the scammer.
I phoned eBay again and managed to get the money refunded just in time for the start of the month when all my bills go out.
Another few phone calls finally got me to someone in India who was willing to go through 63 pages of invoice, deleting every transaction. It got to the point where he said he would have to finish it offline and phone me the next day, which he dutifully did!
Eventually I got there and my MC011 restriction was lifted.
I then had to go back into each affected account and phone eBay to ask for the restriction to be lifted on that account too, which was easy by comparison, but each account only had half of the selling limits it previously had.
Things I Learned From Selling My eBay Account
- Selling my eBay account was one of the stupidest mistakes I’ve made (related to money and business) and one I will definitely never repeat
- eBay can track your identity in lots of ways and link eBay accounts by postal addresses, payment info and even IP addresses
- You can log into regional eBay sites as a business and sell there (eBay.de in this case) like a local
- You can link autoresponders to eBay sales and they will send out activation keys to customers instantly
- MS Office keys can be bought in bulk and sell really well
- There are some shady looking websites that will sell you eBay accounts for hundreds and even thousands of dollars
- ‘Stealth’ eBay accounts are a thing
- Virtual credit cards are a thing
One of the few silver linings to this whole experience is that I actually learned about new ways of selling things – I had already tried selling activation keys for games – but the scammer who bought my eBay account had a very slick set-up with tutorial videos.
Probably the most frustrating thing about the whole ordeal was that the scammer didn’t need to scam me – he was making a mint – he could have paid all of the fees off and refunded the 20% or so defective items and still made good money.
If anything this has inspired me to try selling license keys like he did, but to do it better, but that is a project for another day.
If it hasn’t become apparent while reading this post I will say it one last time – DO NOT SELL YOUR EBAY ACCOUNT – EVER!