Tech

Fake RTX 3000-series eBay listings claim they’re targeting bots, but is it a scammer’s excuse?

Facepalm: As everyone who’s desperate for an RTX 3000-series card knows, pretty much the only way of getting one right now is to pay an obscene amount on eBay. However, there are quite a few RTX 3080/3090 listings with prices lower than the MSRP, but make sure to read the descriptions: these will almost certainly be an image of the card, or an item just as useless. Although some sellers claim this is a revenge tactic against scalpers, a few are likely using the excuse as justification to rip off consumers; all auctions state “no refunds, no returns.”

RTX 3000-series cards, the Radeon RX 6000s, Ryzen 5000 CPUs, and new consoles have all suffered availability problems, due in no small part to scalpers grabbing them to make huge profits on auction sites. A report from January showed that scalpers had sold over 53,000 new Nvidia/AMD cards worth $65 million, figures that will now be even larger.

There are numerous RTX 3080/3090 cards on eBay selling under their MSRPs, but it should go without saying that buying one will lead to disappointment; most are for nothing more than images of the products.

These sort of shenanigans have long been present on eBay. It was widespread when the PS5 launched, tricking many desperate parents into paying a fortune for a digital photo of the console. What’s different with a lot of the graphics card listings is that they warn people not to buy, claiming to be a trap set for bots.

“NO HUMANS ALLOWED!” states one auction. “DO NOT BUY UNLESS YOU ARE A BOT OR WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE A DIGITAL ART PIECE OF THE CARD AS A MONUMENT TO CURRENT MARKET CONDITIONS.”

Anything that punishes scalpers should be welcomed, but it’s easy to imagine that plenty of these listings include “bots-only” messages as a way of covering sellers’ backs, especially as they have “no refunds, no returns” policies.

It’s not only images of cards that scammers are pushing. PCMag notes one person selling an “NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Founder’s Edition,” though the description reveals it’s a “New 3D PRINTED PLASTIC MODEL.” There are other auctions for empty boxes.

If you are willing to buy an RTX 3080 on eBay, expect to pay more than $1,000 for the real thing—and make sure to read the description.

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